Step One: Pay attention to me. It doesn’t matter what kind of attention. Watch me, even when you are talking to someone else. Bump your leg against mine. The rule is: if you can’t look away from me, I can’t look away from you. This might get awkward for the people around us, but tough shit.
Step Two: Read my writing, or lie, and tell me that you have read my writing. It makes me shiver to see your comment on my page, the way it would if you put your fingers into the waistband of my pants. I know that you will read this and it’s like standing in front of you naked, refusing to look away.
Step Three: Sit close to me on the couch and tell me about how broken you are. The more broken you are, the more I will want you. The likelier this is to land me amid broken dishes and things burning, the harder I am breathing. I love a fabulous disaster.
Step Four: Laugh with your mouth open at things that I say. Let me see your straight white teeth. Let me imagine them on my skin. I like that I can make you laugh so that your head goes back and I get a moment with your exposed neck.
Step Five: Tell me I am pretty, tell me I am sexy, let me believe for a moment that I am wanted. I am so afraid that I am not any of these things that if you tilt the mirror to the right angle, and explain to me what it is that I am seeing, I will fall deeply and instantly into a narcissistic infatuation with your ass.
That’s it! Instant crush. I will sit home and think about you, I will talk about you to my friends like you are magical, I will put you in my blog, I will doodle your name in the margins of my notebook, drawing hearts penetrated by arrows, dripping.
Crush is the language of people younger than me. I hang out with younger people, and my language has taken on their florid hyperbole; I speak fluent twenty-something as a second language. I’m not interested in things, I am obsessed with them. I’m not uncomfortable, I am literally going to die. And of course things, lots of things from my new t-shirt with the alpaca printed on it to the banana and marshmallow dessert we shared last night in Bushwick are awesome. “What will you say when you see the Grand Canyon?” Sketch’s dad once asked. I will say it is fucking awesome.
Speaking of fucking, it’s been two weeks without sex, and this is probably why I am walking around so crush-prone that my pelvis tilts at you like a radar dish, trying to pick up your signals. A crush: it feels very seventh-grade– intense but the stakes are low enough that I could totally get over it by eighth period if I wanted to. But instead of stamping it out, I nurture these crushes, the way you can blow on a flame and feed it little sticks. I feed it, clocking my phone for the next text, and the double vibration of your incoming text is the purr of the Want Monster finally getting fed. Getting fed makes the Want Monster bigger. Also: hungrier.
All these relationships I have had, one overlapping the next: they are like when you slap on successive layers of nail polish over the old chipped coat, leaving digits thick and bumpy with old mistakes. I can never wait until the polish dries, and I leave tracks behind me like a trail I am daring you to follow.
Follow me, I dare you, I freaking WANT you, I blog at you as hard as I can. I can’t stop thinking about touching you. You will read this, and maybe you will know it’s about you and maybe you won’t, all my sentences pointing at you like an erection, just like all sentences, everywhere. How much writing gets done in the name of infatuation? Longfellow wrote that poem about Paul Revere because he was dating one of Revere’s descendants, and he wanted to impress the girl’s mother. The other midnight riders got completely forgotten. Had things gone differently, school children might memorize “Listen my children and take a pause / at the Midnight Ride of William Dawes.” Totally could have gone down differently in our collective memory.
We trivialize a crush, but crushes, man? Crushes drive the words across the page, and words have power. Words change things.