So, since spring has decided to make an appearance in this part of the country, the dudes and dudettes have gotten exponentially more frisky. Gone are the snorkels and sweaters that did not betray the weight gained during the winter months. Gone are the looks of pinched dejection as people scurry to and fro, hoping they don’t move in any way that will expose their skin to the bitter chill. The days are warmer now; bright colors abound, sandals are (unfortunately) prevalent and, if you listen very carefully, you can hear the rippling of skirts snapping like sails in the breeze. Spring, when it truly arrives, is one of the greatest times of year. Literary types note that spring connotes redemption and rebirth. I prefer to think of it as something more even more essential to the human condition. It is Crush season.
While I have been known to be a lewd fellow from time to time, let me make clear that Crush season is not the time of year when the youth throw caution to the wind and engage in licentious physical activities to sate their carnal appetites. As far as I’m concerned, fuckin’–also known as “going to Pump Town” in the more formal nomenclature–is a year-round thing. No, friends, Crush season is that wonderful time of the school year when you wake up, see the sun, and make a point to actually leave your room–people with jobs don’t really count in this, but they can shake their heads sadly and dream of yesteryear if they want–because every sunny day not spent in your dwelling is an opportunity to develop a crush. The people no longer are bundled up or tucked away in the library writing papers they don’t have actual theses for. No, they are out and about, picking up their mail, going to grab coffee or merely strolling to enjoy the cosmic rays being bestowed by Mother Nature (word to American Gladiators).
Crushes are great. I can’t really explain why, and I would feel bad about that, but then I consider the fact that I can’t explain the taste of water but I can tell you it’s a beverage that hits the spot. The best reason I can come up with is that crushes are like safe sex, except more satisfying. By that I mean crushes are pleasant, generally uncreepy fantasies that only you and whichever of your buddies you choose to tell knows about. Unlike real life, there’s no fear of rejection or disappointment; indeed, crushes are utterly fulfilling until the wick of that candle has naturally burned itself out or that person shows themselves to be an ass and puts out the candle prematurely. In those situations, the only disappointment is of the crush variety; you’re less mad that this person put the fire out and more mad that they did so before you were ready. Still, nobody gets hurts, there’s always someone else to come off the bench. And in some healthy crush scenarios, you have a crush on that person for the rest of your natural life and every time you see them is like flipping through the channels and seeing that your favorite movie is on.
Crushes bring us back to more simple times when looking at or interacting with someone gave you a pleasure that wasn’t steeped in smut. Now, of course you would engage in smuttiness with a crush if the opportunity arose, but that opportunity is not the point of a crush. In the world of man, woman, chaos, crushes are that element that makes us hopeful about the love emotion despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary. Crushes are powerful in their simplicity: They are pure and make us feel good without asking anything of us.
Now, in my many years of research, I’ve found there are only two types of crushes: The Unattainable and The Random. The first is easily recognized and even easier to explain. The Unattainable is that person that you feel is out of your league or you feel is shackled by some social circumstance–friend group, age, height–that makes the possibility seem preposterous. No matter if you are the worst of the worst or the best of the best, you have an Unattainable. These people are critical to the crush realm, because they help to balance out the people who you think you have a legitimate shot with (who also happen to be the people most of the tragic follies of love occur with.) They are the exception to the general rule that life is too short, that we should go out on a limb and take our chances. That logic doesn’t apply here, because the second you do, these individuals are no longer a crush. They are an agenda. While neither the Unattainable nor the Random should ever be brought into the realm of reality and possibility, it is of the utmost importance that this never happen to the former. If you do, not only have to upset the balance, you’ve probably also gotten your feelings hurt.
In a quirky, WTF sort of way, the Random is the more fun crush to have. While the Unattainable makes you swoon, the Random makes you grin dumbly. More often than not, the Random is not your type. In fact, they are often your anti-type and nothing about them should set off any alarms whatsoever. They’re often goofy-looking or some form of oddly attractive that doesn’t work for anyone else but them. More often than not, Randoms are personality picks. In fact, their personality makes them a lot more attractive than they probably are. (Sidebar 1: The above is not to say that Unattainables don’t have good personality. Rather, it’s to say that their personalities are of little consequence because, more often than not, you don’t actually talk to them. In this context, they can really only survive on their looks.) They’re fun and personable and funny and you can sit there having a genuine good time while simultaneously crushing. Sure, they’re the people that make your buddies raise their eyebrows, but you could give less than a fuck. You can close your eyes and they still brighten your day, which is stellar. Again, neither Randoms nor Unattainables should be brought into reality, but with Randoms there’s not only more of a chance, there’s a good chance that the risk will be worthwhile.
The casual and hypothetical romantic interest known as the crush makes life worth living. They bring a bit of joy, however fleeting, to a world where bad timing and “it’s not you, it’s me” seems to perpetually prevail. Crushes are pure and mostly they are kind. So if it’s sunny where you are, turn this machine off and go check your mail or grab a coffee or stroll around, basking in the Mother Nature’s cosmic rays. ‘Tis the season. Peace to…
Penultimate Thought: YouTube is still amazing.
Final Thought: I’m officially a Greg Oden fan.
So, the other day while standing out in the cold afternoon air with some Blacks, a buddy of ours came boppin’ across the courtyard on his way to dinner. Hugs, daps and greetings were exchanged as we are wont to do in such interactions, and as we drew this particular pal in for not-too-long embraces, we noticed on his lapel the pin given to newly-tapped society members.
For those of you that do not know what society is, it is essentially a group of the most select and most awesome culled from a pool of the already select and awesome that gathers twice a week to learn about and celebrate each others’ select awesomeness as individuals and as a collective. They have secret rituals that only its members know about and they tell each other secrets, which creates something of a close bond due to, at the most , mutual respect and friendship and at the least, an ability to blackmail one another at a later date. No one except basically everyone knows who is in what society because it’s a secret that no one in a society tells unless:
They are talking about where they are going on Thursday or Sunday
They are belittling other societies for being some form of lame
They are recounting a funny story that happened at society
They are openly pondering the secrets they’ve heard–with no names of course
They are discussing the people in society they like, dislike, or don’t think should be there
They are bemoaning the woes of the tap process
They are explaining why they just warmly greeted someone they would otherwise have no reason to cross paths with for any reason at all.
Anyway, ole boy was wearing his pin and the three of us, his elders if you will, sort of took note of it, and continued our conversation in the cold. People don’t really wear their society pins around. It’s something that just isn’t done, mainly because it calls attention to you for the wrong reasons. The only response anyone that sees it can really give is “Hm. He/She’s a douchebag.” Since our boy is no one’s d bag, we let it slide. A few minutes later, another buddy comes up, a buddy with similar affiliations to our young friend, takes one look at his lapel and says, “What are you, class of 1905?” Here, my friends, was where the levee broke. The heckling was on. The four of us basically spent the next several minutes clowning the life out of our boy. It was vicious and thorough, replete with firm hand shakes, cackles of “Class of ’61, damn glad to meet ya,” and harassing inquiries into why he would dare think that was acceptable. He tried to redirect, but it was too late. The rout was complete. Having had the will heckled out of him, he removed the pin and took a seat on the bench while we continued to have our conversation in the cold.
Even while this well-deserved heckling was taking place, I couldn’t help but feel a little bad for my man. I could detect a small bit of dejection in his eyes as people who had cheered him in the days leading up to his tapping–we like for Black folks to get into these things. Story ended–now sat and cast lots for his dignity. Our boy was proud, as he should be, to be considered select and awesome and we greeted that feeling of pride with some good-natured hate hate hate. My feelings of remorse were not long-lasting though. The hecking felt good, real good for a simple reason: We love the kid.
In the general, daily basis sense, I will always prefer heckling to expressing solemn sentiments of love, admiration or respect. Telling someone they ain’t shit, or that they have long ass fingers, or that their forehead is big is much more preferable than misty and heartfelt communiques of adoration. Why? Because you can heckle every day and that person will know they are loved (Sidebar 1: If you heckle people just to be mean-spirited and have no actual good feelings or respect for that person, you’re just a jerk and you should not continue to read this and nod your head in agreement). That is not to say serious sincerity has no place in the lexicon. It is to say that such demonstrations of affection have a time and place. Those moments show themselves, so there’s no question as to when they happen. It’s a beautiful thing to look in someone’s eyes and thank them or express feelings of love. It’s certainly one of the nicer parts of the human condition, but it’s also like a good filet or a good bisque. Not only can’t you have it every day, you don’t want to have it everyday. If you did, it would be just soup or meat. Same goes for expressions of love. If everything is a Bittersweet Symphony moment, it’s not too long before it’s just saccharine.
But there’s more to it than that. Heckling also has a timelessness about it. While repetitive, it is also seamless. There are no beginnings and endings; indeed, there are just well-meaning insults and personal jabs that wouldn’t be acceptable coming from other people. On the heckle station, the hits just keep on coming. No commercial interruption. Solemn sincerity is different. Because it is less frequent, it clearly delineates moments on our timeline. To be honest, there is a certain mortality to it. Goodbye dinners, from-the-heart toasts, that one last hug before someone you care about puts that last box in the car…The solemn moments, while they enrich the soul, also remind us that we have precious little time to take advantage of them and that every one of those moments must be seized. You’ll never hear someone say they wished they’d heckled more. But those moments of tenderness or heartfelt warmth? That’s why the symphony is bittersweet.
Perhaps I’m just a prick who likes to knock people down so I can feel taller than I already am. Or maybe I’m just a young man coming to the end of some roads who tries to cheat the finales of life through heckling, telling people he loves that they mean a whole lot without all the timefulness that usually involves. I don’t know. I guess lapel pins have that sort of effect on me. Peace to Young Cake.
Penultimate Thought: Satellite radio is not that tight.
Final Thought: I need to visit Argentina again.