An Ode to Crushes

A request: can we all just pause and take a moment to celebrate the simple, delightful pleasure that is having a crush?

Because sometimes, I fear, we forget.

Sometimes it’s been a while since you’ve been like, really, truly smitten with someone in the way that makes you smile all big and involuntary when you think about them and you’re not totally sure why, or whether it’s requited, but it doesn’t really matter.

It’s one of the only fair–and I’d say underappreciated–facts about romantic love: you don’t need someone’s permission to think about them. (Perhaps more appreciated but equally fair/dangerous: you don’t need them to know when you’re looking obsessively at their Facebook page.)

Clearly there are a range of crushes: minor ones, baby ones, silly celebrity ones…and of course, the Epic ones.

I bet I’m not alone in that I can demarcate periods of my life by the Epic Crushes that went with them.

(Note: I’m going all out with the full names here–if these guys don’t know by now, it’s about time.)

The first–the very first–was David Nelson: a good high school friend of my brother’s. He was eighteen, I was two and a half. Things never worked out. He’s now married to a beautiful blonde and has a daughter older than I was then.

Then there was Jonathan Kelly, a tubby but charmismatic kid a year ahead of me in junior high who grew more mean as he got less tubby. By the time he went off to high school I heard folklore transmitted about his football stardom and sexual escapades on schoolbuses. Once, he hugged me in the cafeteria.

In high school it was Josh Bernstein: another funny-but-slightly-chubby kid with a shock of red hair and a generous ability to act aloof toward my obvious infatuation. He’s been dating the “hot girl” from our group of friends for the past five years.

During college, there was Andy Manners: a senior when I was a freshman. I made out with his roommate a few weeks before making out with him at a party–both encounters took place in the bed they alternated use of. We kissed a few more times after that, but he never wanted anything more. One of my most triumphant moments was, finally–years later–walking past the music store on Snelling Avenue where he worked hand-in-hand with a boyfriend.

It’s slightly saddening to admit that I can’t recall any Epic Crushes since then. There was the married bandmate of my ex who I always harbored an affection toward, in that sweet totally unrealistic sort of way. There was the college friend who I spent about five minutes convincing myself I should definitely marry, until I realized I probably shouldn’t.

But for the most part, I’ve ruined most of my adult crushes by actually becoming involved with them.

(Or perhaps I’m just not ready to divulge their identities on the internet.)

But the whole point of an Epic Crush, I’d argue, is it’s impossibility: I mean, how can you ever find satisfaction in a real relationship with someone who exists so perfectly in your imagination?

It’s exciting, even sometimes thrilling, to idealize someone–but it doesn’t usually bode well for dating them.

Fortunately, these affections do not always have to be so grand: it’s possible to feel crushed out on someone without putting them on a pedestal so high you can’t reach.

It’s just not quite as much fun.

But–as someone who feels, finally and thankfully, in the throes of a minor, maybe requited crush–I can sincerely report that it’s still pretty great.

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