Crush Crazy

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“I have about 112 crushes right now,” a friend going through a particularly lively bout of singledom told me this week. “Let’s see, there’s ‘laundromat girl,’ ‘tall, cute waitress chick,’ ‘neighbor babe’…”

The list goes on.

Who can blame him? Crushes are a wonderful spring sport, especially if you’re single. How many times have I heard single people who aren’t in the market for a full-fledged relationship, say, “I don’t mind being single, I just want to have a little crush on someone.”

Nothing like a good, healthy crush to get the juices flowing after a long, hard winter. And the fact that everyone is finally showing skin again makes it so easy, like shootin’ fish in a barrel.

Crushes are great because they prove you still have the capacity to feel emotion toward another human being without having to do anything about it, except grin like an idiot and make a fool of yourself as you try to come up with something clever to say when you run into your crush.

But that’s why it’s so fun. You get all the adrenaline-boosting, fluttery-heart effects of a new relationship without having to worry about silly things like whether or not you’d actually get along. You can spend your time daydreaming about your crush, wondering whether there was hidden meaning in the waitress’ question, “Would you like fries with that?” and imagining what the person looks like naked.

There’s nothing like having a crush on someone at work to help get you up in the morning. (This is sadly one of the downsides of working at home; the best I can hope for is a cute courier guy.)

Now, a crush is not to be confused with an infatuation. A crush is usually more fleeting; it may strike you when the cutie handing you your latte holds your gaze one second longer than usual and it makes you giddy.

An infatuation, on the other hand, usually triggers complete paralysis when faced with said cutie and finds you soon drinking 17 cups of coffee a day just so you can go to the coffee shop and enjoy another moment in his presence.

While somewhat less psychotic in nature, a crush, like an infatuation, is often more about the pursuit than the goal. Some of the best crushes involve people who are entirely unavailable and oblivious to your crush. It’s wonderfully self-indulgent.

That’s not to say that a returned crush isn’t welcome. In fact, there’s nothing like having someone return your stupid grin and come up with an equally awkward response to your not-so-clever comment to make your day. Then you get to enter into full-on flirtation. And that’s just too fun.

Every once in a while, a good mutual crush can even be the launch pad of a full-blown relationship.

This brings me to the subject of what to do about crushes when you’re in a relationship. Of course, you could just stop having them, but who wants to deny themselves this lovely little pleasure. Sure, when you’re in the first flush of a new relationship, your paramour usually provides all the necessary distraction. But after a while, we all crave the occasional crush — some proof we’ve still got it.

Sometimes we give crushes way more attention than they deserve, especially if we’re trying to avoid scary stuff in our relationship. It’s easy to invest tons of emotional energy into a crush because it’s non-committal. The fact that the cute waitress is completely charmed by you and doesn’t know what a mess you really are can be a refreshing break from a partner who knows all your warts. It’s tempting to take it more seriously than we should.

Then we go and do something stupid like tell the person about our crush, even if we have no plans to act on it, which is really unfair. While it might feel good for the ego, it can screw with the other person’s head to continue to deal with you on a regular basis or if the crushee never thought of you in that way.

It’s not that I want to take the fun out of a perfectly pleasurable pastime. I just don’t want to see anybody get crushed out there.

I think I’ll go get me a latte.

Fine Josey Vogels at www.joseyvogels.com