All teenagers go through a period where they have a “crush” on someone, oftentimes a startling strong desire or affection for a single human being, whether a boy or a girl, whom they just can’t stop thinking about, no matter what their friends say or the small detail that the object of their affection doesn’t even know they exist.
This was mine.
He was tall (aren’t they all?). For the sake of this article, let’s call him “Brad”, even though his real name is far more scintillating and handsome.
Brad was extremely tall, dark-haired and dark-eyed, and drop-dead gorgeous. He had this way of walking, slouching a little, that made him seem look so skinny yet masculine, and I loved him with all my heart throughout the course of my high school years.
And, in a typical shy-girl fashion, I never even spoke a word to him. Never.
In fact, the thought of saying anything to him made me want to simultaneously explode and implode at the same time.
I snuck glances at him.
I wrote stories about him, in which he always featured as the dashing handsome prince.
I pretended to be Brad’s wife, using his last name as my own, smiling at the way it sounded, the “ring” to it.
Whenever I passed him by in the corridors, or I sat in front of him in class, I concentrated on the beauty of his laugh, bursting forth from that beautiful mouth, and prayed every night to one day be his girlfriend.
It didn’t happen.
One day, I got the chance to sit next to him in the library. I just sidled up to him and sat down. I don’t know what made me do it. Probably blind optimism and a measure of desperation, because I’d been crushing on him for 5 or 6 years and barely spoken a word to him except when he asked me for my marks on an English test to compare his score with mine (I was the class nerd back then, and took my studies very seriously, and tended to score the highest mark in the class on most tests) and just sat there, my heart beating fast, my brain feeling as though it was about to ooze out of my ears, concentrating on a book so hard I wouldn’t have noticed if it had been upside-down.
He said, “Hello.”
I looked up.
My cheeks crimsoned. “Hi,” I said.
He proceeded to launch into an ordinary conversation about the upcoming prom or graduation night. That was it. I was gone. It was as if none of his words were registering, as if I were hearing it all underwater; and a moment later, I was staring at him like a gaping fish, and he was waiting for an answer to a question I hadn’t heard. I smiled, quickly, and said, “Sorry, if you’ll excuse me for a moment…” And I fled.
For the rest of highschool, believe it or not, I didn’t speak to him. Not once. Ever again. I just watched him from afar, and gradually, my feelings dissipated, and I realised he wasn’t as great I’d thought him to be.
Seen without the rose-tinted glasses, he was quite proud and arrogant, and although friendly, tended to be friendly with other people only when the other popular kids weren’t around. When they were, he focused on them, on being part of the “in-group” and other, less popular kids suddenly became invisible.
He ignored me on two counts after that, when a pretty, popular girl was around, not replying to my question entirely and turning away to speak to the pretty girl, leaving me gobsmacked and hurt. I got over him, eventually, and now I hear he is dating this girl who was in our year, popular as heck and just as beautiful. Well, let bygones be bygones, right?
I wish there was a good ending to this, or that I learned something really great or special about people or myself from this, but the truth was, in retrospect, it was just a silly crush, on a silly boy, and once I looked at things with a bit of perspective, I realised I hadn’t been attracted to him at all, but simply the idea of him.
I was crushing on a fabrication of my mind, which, I’m sure, is prevalent as heck in one’s teen years (if the manic pixie dream girl trope is anything to go by). I can’t believe, when I think back on it now, that I was so besotted and afraid to speak to an ordinary, human being for 5-6 years, just because I thought he was popular, gregarious, good-looking and therefore completely out of my league, and if I could go back in time as I am now, mature and understanding, I would’ve been able to speak to him without skipping a beat and look him straight in the eye.
These days, I’m the one getting propositioned by men, receiving the attention I never did in my high school years, but deep down, somewhere, I still feel like an ugly duckling, the shy girl who was too afraid of sticking up for herself when the boy she loved paid no attention to her at all.
And I’m not sure if that’s ever going to go away.