I envy serial crushers. The ones who can go from crush to crush quickly, frequently, wearing glasses both rose-tinted and rhinestone-glammed. I’ve envied them ever since I found out that they exist, that is – that not everybody pines or pledges precincts of the heart as intensely and uncommonly as I do. That it’s possible to want people the way one wants edible things: in a cycle of steady cravings, regular fulfilments, perennial appetites. I’d like to be that way. I’d like to be so often and so easily swayed.
I’d like to be infatuated, always, with one or another among a sequence of sugarpuffs. I’d like my face to light up at the mere mention of their names. I’d like to have sudden interests in topics I don’t care about. I’d like to be pleasantly ruffled each time the phone beeps. I’d like just the thought of seeing them be enough to make me shave my legs.
I’d like to like – a lot.
“Why are you glowing?” asked my friend, the last time I was overcome so deliciously. “Did you…?”
“No!” I laughed. We hadn’t had to, for me to turn to hot buttered toffee. The idea of it, and its attendant cues – flirtation, finding everything really funny, the piri-piri brush of fingertips – were more than enough. A crush is a surf that lets you down softly, all froth and no crash.
The beauty of a crush is that it is often best unreciprocated. You can smile to yourself all day and yet never feel disappointed. Or the best kind of all: when they crush on you too, but can tell a spark from a flame – just like you. You can gush over someone you’ll never meet, or someone you’ll meet just briefly. Briefly being the operative keyword – a crush is not an obsession. A crush is not dangerous. A crush never crushes you, to put it very artlessly. All it does is make you buoyant and blushing, and if nothing else, then amusing to those around you.
And love, that old louse?
You can crush on someone you can never have, and it can be a secret sweetness you carry like a charm or a spritz of fragrance. You can crush on someone and forget. You can crush on someone and tingle a little to remember. But if you love them – oh, if you love them, if they make you cry as well as smile, then there’s no other way to say it – you’re screwed.
I’d be lying if I said I can’t remember when I last had a crush. I know exactly when, and that’s the dispiriting part. I wish I could say, instead, that I can’t keep count. That it could have been yesterday, that is probably is today, that it certainly will be (someone else by) the day after tomorrow. But my affection, unfortunately, is a valuable thing. And I waste it on the worst of them.
Which is why I wish there were more objects of frivolous, fleeting fondness in my life. I’d waste less on each. It’s so much easier to walk away when there’s something new and sparkly and hypothetically kissable to walk towards.
A crush is basically a hypothesis. A crush is a high, and the stakes are thankfully so very low.
But so, unfortunately, are the stats. I desperately await my next crush. I’d take it over money. I’d take it over glory. I’d even take it over love itself, because I’ve been on the scenic route a long time – and another detour or few would do just fine.
An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express on November 23rd. “The Venus Flytrap” appears on Mondays in Chennai’s City Express supplement.