|Steve from the movie Welcome to the Dollhouse. His band was called the Quadratics. Image from nestledinnostalgia.com.|
What is it about crushes? Under the influence of a crush, everything becomes more intense. The blue sky isn't just blue, it's a Technicolor hallucination of blue. The cloudy sky isn't just gray, it's hopelessly stark, like the feeling in your heart when you realize you won't see him again until next drivers' training class. Ah, ye gods, life is so cruel.
I attended an all-girl Catholic high school, which is the perfect place to cultivate one's skill at crushing. Graduates of all-girl Catholic high schools are among the best crushers in the world, and most likely remain so for the rest of their lives. Your best friend's older brothers, other competitors at academic decathalons, football players from the brother school across town--boys were hard to come by, and when you came by one who was even passably cute, you didn't just like...you crushed.
Crushing in a pre-Internet world goes something like this.
1. Research. Ask around, but try to be cool about it. Get your hands on old yearbooks and school newspapers. Find out his name. Then find out everything. Zodiac sign. Shoe size. Dog's name. Ex-girlfriend's name. Ice cream preferences. Every piece of information is important. You must win him over, and to do so, you need to know what color his socks are on Tuesdays.
2. Adopt his ways. If you learn he likes Black Sabbath, make a copy of your cousin's Black Sabbath cassette and listen to it every day like some kind of holy meditation. Memorize the lyrics to "War Pigs." It doesn't matter that you like Mariah Carey way more. The thought that one day you'll sit on a park bench with him discussing the finer points of Wicked Wichita is enough to keep you going.
3. Speculate + prank call. Your best friend, provided she is a trustworthy sort, is the perfect person to speculate with. She is probably crushing on someone, too (hopefully, not the same poor kid) and as such is usually a willing participant in the act of speculation. "What do you think he's doing right now, like right now?" is a popular question to ask each other, as is, "I have his number right here. Should I call him?" To which the answer is always "I dare you." This inevitably leads to giggling, phone-grabbing, a heart-rending game of keep-away, furious dialing, and then, when someone answers,...hanging up, followed by accusations and recriminations. This is before the invention of caller ID or *69. All things considered, a magical time.
4. Be as awkward as possible around him. When you finally get to be around him in person, squander all that research and agony by being yourself--but an extra-awkward, extra-spazzy, extra-creepy version of yourself. Lose complete control of the modulation of your voice. Extra points if you lose control of your bodily functions. In short, completely forget how to be a human being.
5. Break your own heart. He doesn't know you're alive or, if he does, he wisely stays away from you. Love is a cruel mistress. Keep listening to Black Sabbath. Allow an entire relationship to play itself out in your head (a la Cecily's diary in The Importance of Being Earnest). Drop a flower in the ocean. Think of what could've been.
6. Hey, who's that? He's cute. What's his name?
7. Repeat steps 1 to 6.