Eleven years ago, there was a person who believed in love more than anything else in the world. More than anything. Love mattered more than anything, and this person was willing to do anything to fight for it, earn it, hold it, nurture it and protect it.
Eleven years ago a fantastically silly movie arrived in theaters, and it was like it was tailor-made for this person. Because it put love on a pedestal and for 127 minutes the audience got to fall in love with love, and adore love, and worship love, and just fucking love love. Above all things, love.
Eleven years ago, this person—let’s call this person “Whiskeypants” for the sake of brevity and clarity—knew what love was. Whiskeypants knew all the facts about love. And how it worked. And how it was supposed to go. The more impatient among you may be tempted to suggest that Whiskeypants was an idiot, and that would be fair, but the more generous and tolerant may be thinking that maaaaybe this Whiskeypants person just had a lot to learn. A lot. A LOT to learn. Maybe. (Hint: YES. OMFG. A LOT.)
And as time passed, Whiskeypants did, in fact, learn. A lot. Fucked up. A lot. Loved a lot. Lost a lot. Lost more.
But never once lost faith in love. Until.
There’s always an “until” in these stories.
I watched Moulin Rouge last night for the first time in…I don’t know. I don’t know how long it has been. And I found myself mourning that person with the enduring, unshakable faith in love and all it had to offer. And I don’t mean any kind of gentle, “awww, what the hell happened to my younger idealistic idiot self” mourning. I mean tears-running-down-my-face-wtf-happened-to-that-essential-core-belief-in-love kind of mourning.
In the last few years I let that Whiskeypants slip away, and I never went looking.
Tonight I pinpointed that moment when I let it happen. That moment when love—my faith in it, my belief in it—stopped being a factor. The moment when that part of me just…separated and went its own way.
And I…I just let it happen.
Eleven years ago I stepped out of a movie theater, blinked my eyes against the sunlight and a world that seemed bleached of color. I felt stunned, I felt vindicated. I was pretty sure that getting on my bicycle and riding home was just going to be fucking impossible, so I went into the pub across the street, closed my eyes, nursed a beer, and loved love.
Eleven years ago I had a lot of necessary and painful lessons and experiences ahead of me. But losing that essential part of me, that love of love, should never have been one of them.
I never went looking.
I’m looking, now.
So, not too long ago, I posted this status on Facebook: “In a weird turn of events, I might be about to start dating somebody who actually likes me.”
While to my delight this post received a surprisingly high number of “likes”, there was also some concern (both on Facebook and off) that if somebody were busy making me happy, this blog would become, as my friend Mike put it, “all fluffy bunnies and hearts.”
Gentle Readers, don’t worry.
This fantastic, amazing girl may be making me pretty stupidly happy thus far, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a million things to be angry or frustrated about in the world. Privilege and privilege deniers still abound. Wall Street is still fucked up. The Republicans are still waging war against women, minorities, and the poor. The queer community in general is still comprised of second-class citizens in some way or another. Black kids are being murdered by racist fucks, who seem to be getting away with it. I remain constantly teetering on the edge of being unable to support myself. I still suck at guitar. I still work at two clubs. I still ride public transportation. I am still surrounded by other human beings because the stupid zombie apocalypse is late.
I could go on. But you get the point: This blog will never, ever be all fluffy bunnies and hearts. Or fluffy bunny hearts, because I want to keep the five or six readers I have.
I promise: if I have accidentally found actual romantic happiness, almost nothing will change here. The irritable snark is alive and well at terminallysnarky.com. And while I would find it extremely disappointing, this girl could always decide to dump me in some horrible way that includes kicking me in the shins and laughing while I’m down. It seems unlikely, but for those of you who are still worried about the potential for this blog’s descent into cheerful bliss, you can always hope for the worst.
Some girls get roses.
Others get cactuses, and cactosaurs that have been, after extensive thought and consideration, named “Francois.” (Francois was just barely chosen over a sturdy, loyal-looking buffalo who was obviously named Ted, but it turns out buffalo don’t like to frolic among cactuses like cactosaurs do.)
I’ve been informed that they are both quite comfortable in her new apartment.
Nice! Simple, uncomplicated, not in the least bit stressful. But that never lasts, does it?
However, lately things are looking like this:
For Science: The first part of the post was written after margaritas, a pint of Jameson and ginger, and some number of old fashioned—what the hell is the plural for “old fashioned”? “Old Fashioneds”? I mean, when you are sober. When you are drunk, the plural is something like, “Ol’fashenz”.
Okay, Whiskeypants, let’s reel it back in. For science:
Almost nothing in the title is relevant to this post. But that’s the title I came up with on my midnight walk home from BART, and I’m stickin’ to it. Mostly because I have had too much whiskey not to.
Wait, that’s not true. The crush part is relevant. And the separation part. And the Part III part. But not the church and state thing, ‘cept maybe metaphorically. And the crush bit is not 100% relevant, since this post is mostly about desire—but crushes apply, too.
On the plus side, I just found a glass of cranberry juice I left here Monday morning. It tastes fine. So here’s to hydration.
One of the social skills I have repeatedly refined over the years is the ability to be 100% cool with being friends with women I desire. It’s a more or less invisible social skill that, in my drunker moments, I think is totally underappreciated. I think it is a skill more people ought to develop, honestly. It brings perspective in to the relationships I cultivate because I want, allowing me to realize that I can cultivate them much better because what I want is merely a facet of somebody much more interesting and complex.
That does not, of course, make it easier to deal with actively and determinedly being friends with women I’d like to throw against the wall and kiss until one or both of us just can’t breathe anymore (especially if I already have and can remember what it feels like to do so). It just makes it possible and, in most cases, preferable. When you take a look at the hotness of the women around me [From here on, writing sober:] (and it’s really rather remarkable), the need to separate desire from friendship and to box that desire up becomes apparent. So does the difficulty of doing so. But I don’t think I could be friends with these women if I couldn’t do it. Not and be a real friend.
Which is, I suppose, the long way ’round of saying: I don’t think it’s possible to be a true friend to somebody you also happen to want to fuck if you lead with your dick (real or metaphorical) and not your head and your heart.
So then it becomes a matter of priorities—are you hanging around because you hope he or she will eventually open up to you, or are you sticking around because you hope he or she will eventually ,,open up,, to you? And how honest are you being with yourself about that? And how honest with her or him?
And now the real question:
Have you ever stood in front of some unbelievably gorgeous and compelling work of art and wanted to just stare at it, try to take it in, try to absorb it? To try to make your brain comprehend what you are seeing and what you are feeling when you see it?
I will do that in museums, when I am struck by the vision and talent of an artist, when I feel that there is nothing I can do but just appreciate the hell out of a piece of art. Sometimes, I do the same thing with women.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good stare.
Say you think some individual is totally hot. Like, devastatingly hot. The kind of hot where your eyes want to follow him or her everywhere. The kind of hot where, even if he or she is no longer in the room, if you picture him or her, you still have to brace yourself against something until your blood pressure returns to something resembling normal. And, given the absence of ability to touch him or her (which may be total or may be temporary), you wanna look at that person—as much and as often as possible. You want to take in every detail, every angle, appreciate everything you can. Because regardless of what flaws that individual may or may not have, he or she is fucking stunning.
And if you do get to (and he or she doesn’t call the cops on you for being a creepy stalker, and good luck with that), it’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store. Or even an adult in a candy store. You ever been to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate it. But that’s beside the point. I think. Mmmmm. Candy.
Sugar is good for you, right?
Anyway, lately I find myself staring. Like, chin resting on my palm, all thoughts gone from my head, eyes like malfunctioning tractor beams, staring. And yes, for those of you keeping track at home, I am talking about the hotness ninja. I’ve been staring, trying to avoid loud, wistful sighs, and enjoying the hell out of the view.
It’s a simple pleasure, and one of which we should all take advantage whenever possible. Gentle reader, if the hottie(s) in your life are receptive, and you aren’t a creepy stalker (<–IMPORTANT) don’t forget to take some time and just stare at them. Watch them move, watch them work, watch them cook or do dishes or reorganize their bookshelves. Appreciate every angle, every movement. Every moment where they are thinking of something, singing, reading, or dancing.
It’s an entirely worthwhile way to pass the time.
Here is a short list of things to remember when you have a crush—I’m listing them here because in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been forgetting these tools, making the crush I currently have much less manageable. Which sucks, because frankly, it’s bad enough that I don’t get to touch her as it is.
1. Crushes are temporary. Temporary!
They are even more temporary if you don’t entertain them in your head. But who am I fooling? I don’t just entertain my crushes—I make them tea, play them songs on my guitar, do interpretive dance for them, and invite them to stay indefinitely. But they don’t.
I know it seems like it’s gonna last forever. And I have had crushes that have lasted years—before, during, and through other relationships. So I understand if you are shaking your head right now and fervently disagreeing with me because you’ve been into that one girl since kindergarten. But really, I swear, it’s temporary. Or you’re actually in love, and therefore SOL. Sorry. I bet he or she’s adorable.
2. You are not what she or he is looking for right now.
And maybe he or she ought to be looking for you. The way my crush could really do a lot worse than settling on me. However, let’s face it—if he or she doesn’t think of you romantically, no amount of showing him or her how awesome you are is going to change that.
That is to say—it’s out of your hands, gentle reader. If your crush wakes up one day to the realization that you are awesome in a romantic sense, then you are one lucky motherlover. You may also discover you are in a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston.
3. If you find yourself in a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston, don’t panic.
Seriously, this happens to me all the time. Just try to remember your lines and collect your paycheck later. It will be okay.
4. If you know what he or she is looking for, don’t try to turn yourself into that.
You are what you are, my friend. That doesn’t mean you should not be constantly working to improve yourself—however you choose to do so. Improve yourself for yourself.
Don’t try to turn yourself into a mountain goat because she likes to climb, do it because you want to, because you love it. Don’t try to read all the works of Pynchon because your crush is a snobby intellectual hipster. Read them because you are a snobby intellectual hipster.
5. Don’t assume it’s because of your shortcomings.
Don’t assume it isn’t, either. But that’s not the point. You have to remember that just because she or he doesn’t see the great qualities for which she or he is searching, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, or that there aren’t others that ought to be considered.
This is a good opportunity—not to focus on all the things that you are not (to him or her, anyway), but to focus on all the things he or she is missing out on. There may be a million reasons why he or she should be seriously considering you. Focus on those—theoretically eventually somebody will come around who wants all of those things. It just might not be your crush. The confidence this helps to create makes you even more attractive.
6. Be cool, Sodapop.
Don’t get yourself all worked up over this. Given that it is out of your hands (with regard, anyway, to doing anything about your situation—any entertaining of the crush itself may lead to things being very much in your hands), you have to remember to belt in, sit back, keep hands, feet, and elbows inside the car—and enjoy the ride.
Crushes: simultaneously wonderful and awful, powerful and weak, illuminating and shortsighted. They are entities that have a symbiotic relationship with love, that often camouflage themselves as love, that have the potential to open the door to it—but most often do not. Sometimes they hurt like white fire.
That is to say, occasionally they are unicorns that lead you to romantic comedy-like bliss, but most of them are puppies you don’t get to keep. And they’ve shit on your floor.
I have been trying to figure out why I enjoy them so much. I must be a romantic. A sarcastic, scarred, cynical, bitter, and pessimistic romantic, but a romantic all the same.
Crushes used to be crushing for me. They used to involve long days and nights of wishing fiercely, desperately. They used to involve hours, days of making mix tapes (actual tapes, folks), writing godawful poetry, obsessing. But then pragmatism set in. The realization that I am always going to be surrounded by beautiful, crushworthy people could have led to a certain amount of despair. Instead, I decided to enjoy them (and to learn to make mixes for friends).
I love noticing the inconsequential details that crushes bring to light. The way she moves the hair out of her eyes, the way she cocks her head when she thinks, mutters to herself when looking at recipes. I enjoy the way my eyes want to rest on her for longer than is socially necessary or acceptable. I enjoy those moments when I can make her laugh or smile, make her eyes light up. I enjoy knowing that, while all of these details remain—as will my appreciation for them—, the feeling they create in me is temporary. And that if I play my cards right, she may never be a lover but she could always be a friend.
In the end, I get to play with the puppy. So what if it isn’t housetrained?