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October 4th, 2017

Crushes. I've have a few plenty. Oh, have I had many of them. Going back to sixth grade in the mid-80s. I can still name many of the women I felt that way towards: Nicka. Kathryn. Carmen. Lori. Lori was my first college crush, and a strong one. She also was someone I had no chance with, and I struggled with Not Becoming A Jerk About That. I was occasionally a jerk; I realized that quickly, and stopped.

(One day in spring 1993, during my first year in college, I finally had to tell myself that nothing could possibly happen between me and her. That was needed, but emotionally wrenching. Then I saw a film for a class, The Night of the Hunter, and that was a different kind of emotionally wrenching. And then I went that night to a gathering at the Honors College I attended, where we were encouraged to read poems and lyrics that Meant Something to us, and I dealt with the emotional extremes I'd been through that day by quoting Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet." "And all I do is miss you..." The song didn't parallel my emotional journey that time, but I could put a lot of weight behind those lines. Anyway. An emotionally hyped day.)

Crushes, as long as you don't use having a crush as an excuse to behave badly, can be nice. They can mean you're appreciating someone, and seeing why others would appreciate them. I had a strong crush, maybe my strongest ever, in 2008 and 2009. No, I won't name her. I reached the point where I felt the need to tell her, and that's usually a bad idea, so I did so very carefully via email after a lot of thought. What I told her, boiled down, was I'd be unfair to you if I ever acted on this; I won't; but you can remember when you're feeling low that I, and other people, think you're absolutely fantastic. And I hope you find someone you find fantastic, too. You deserve that. Again, without naming names, she did. I'm proud of her. And relieved I didn't become a jerk because I had a crush on someone.

I'm writing this because I realized recently: I haven't had a crush in a while. I certainly still find plenty of people attractive — I think I have a reasonably wide variety of "types," so I'm not the straight equivalent of The Simpsons's Waylon Smithers, whose type is "basically one person on Earth" and is thus kind of a tragic figure — but I know to nip this in the bud. Again, I want to avoid Being A Jerk. (I did recently admit to a friend that I think a co-worker of hers is really cute, but I added "I know she's too young for me, and I won't be the jerk who hits on the staff." And saying that helped to nip in the bud any of my inclinations toward doing that.)

I hope that, when I date again, I feel stronger towards whomever I date than a crush.