Two of my best friends since high school, Joe and Noah, have a connection that fascinates me. Despite all of us going to the same school for four years their worlds never quite overlapped (outside of yours truly). Joe had a focus of math and science classes and was a cross country runner. Noah was a creative type, playing in a number of bands and enrolled in theater and creative writing classes. But when their paths did cross, they got along famously. The two of them could go on about movies, music, and more with such a genuine interest and respect for one another. At one of my birthdays, they played ping pong continuously for hours and chatting throughout. For months after they would both tell me how much fun they had had that night. To this day, if I bring one up around the other there is an apparent fondness for each other. If you ask me, I think they have a crush on one another.
I say “I think” because both of them are straight, so it wouldn’t be romantic (presumably). This begs the question though, does a crush have to be romantic? When most people think of crush, its usually googily eyes, big stupid smile, and hearts popping up around your head (the typical Charlie Brown lovestruck look). A crush seems to be a romantic aspiration. Someone you want to be with but maybe can’t. Whether they’re dating someone else, you’re not around them enough, or they are a celebrity and you spent that past three years working as a tour guide (come on Rooney Mara, what does Joaquin Phoenix have that I- oh right, the oscar... and massive amounts of talent). But do crushes have to be romantic? If not, how should they be defined?
For some time, whenever I spoke to Noah and Joe about the other, the fondness grew to: “I should really reach out to him. He’s such a good dude.” Or something to that extent. Any time I heard this, I said “You should!” They’re great people, I love them both, and if they’re both such good friends with me, they would be great friends together. Am I crazy?! Cut the middle man (says the middle man)! And yet, it has never happened. They went to different colleges in different states so naturally there’s a challenge. But we share a hometown… I see both of them every holiday season. Come on Joe, Noah, be friends already!
A certain longing is key to a crush. You see something in someone and you just want to be around them more to find out what it is. That doesn’t have to be romantic though. Often, it’s something physically attractive, but isn’t that just lust? Like if you see someone you’re attracted to from across the room, you wouldn’t call that a crush right away. A crush involves a little more personality, or character. You have to know someone a little bit for that crush to develop. Think back to crushes you’ve had. It’s not just how they look, it’s what they do and say too. There is affection there, but is that romance?
I may just be splitting hairs here, but must a crush be limited to school days of like-liking someone. Noah and Joe have this certain compatibility that they’ve experienced in too small of doses. Neither want to date each other, but they see something in one another that they respect and admire. Someone once told me a crush challenges you, and that it’s that being challenged that draws you to them. This friend was describing not only how she connected with her husband but also people she grew close to in college. Maybe it’s precisely that Noah and Joe are from such seemingly different worlds that the differences just to more to enhance the common ground they do have.
I wonder if things had worked out differently, we went to a smaller school, they were in more classes together, they hung out socially more, they could have had a great friendship that would last to this day. But maybe crushes are unrequited by nature. For it to truly be a crush it has to be from a distance. I know I’ve had a lot of crushes that haven’t panned out (really Rooney, the Joker?!) But I’m still rooting for this one.