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The Taxonomy of Crushes

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Recently I tweeted about a funny guy crush, this being a crush on a funny guy.

“What other kind is there?”

this man demanded, daring me to write a blogpost about it. So here’s presenting the taxonomy of crushes.

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress and not comprehensive.

Type 1: The Normal Crush

This crush happens as a result of a steady diet of fairytales, romcoms and heavy doses of parental pressure to get married. The crushee may be:

  • Adarsh Bharatiya nari: Cooks well, prays, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher
  • A Good boy: Works for a prestigious company, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher

Type 2: The Refinement of Tastes Crush

This crush happens when the crusher is a bit older and has a sense of what he/she likes. Alternately this crush could happen early and set the tone for future crushes in his/her life. The crushee may be:

  • Funny man: This crush specifically occurs because the crusher is laughing hard and mistakes the surge of ‘happy’ chemicals to the brain, for love. That, plus a man on stage is hawt.
  • Independent woman: This crush may occur because the crusher unconsciously believes crushee will take care of him, the way mama did.

Type 3: Inaccessible Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher experiences a distance from the crushee and mistakes ensuing disappointment for affection. The crushee may be:

  • Hot Guy: Chiseled cheekbones, firm butt, broad shoulders – these always belong to a stranger who inhabits a different world from yours (usually a place of male facials, assistant directors and auditions). As crusher, you have nothing to say to him; you don’t have to. He is an object of beauty. Enjoy him.
  • The Celebrity: See above and add that they’re only ever visible on a digital screen. For the snooty intellectuals among you, your version spews words only on the digital screen or occasionally on paper (you old-fashioned thing).
  • Teacher/Boss: How kinky of you, you authority-loving crusher!

Type 4, Level 1: Forbidden Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher has been told to stay away from the crushee and confuses curiosity/rebellion for interest. The crushee may be:

  • Married: Specimens of this type surface ONLY after marriage (their marriage, that is). Maybe they were born married. But they’re cool, good-looking, loyal and….attached.
  • Partner/Ex of friend: Take the above and add an extra knife through your heart, because he’s married or in a relationship with your best friend. Now, even if they don’t work out, you’ll never be able to hit on him because he’ll become your friend’s ex.
  • Family member crush: Cousins, uncles (or aunts)….namely every member of the family tree except your own parents. Why the last disclaimer, you ask? Because that’s not a crush, that’s Oedipus and Elektra.

Type 4, Level 2: Bad idea Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher tells himself/herself to stay away from the crushee, has developed mild split personality disorder on account of excessive self-restraint and begins rebelling against himself/herself, thus confusing it all for interest. (see Type 4, Level 1 for an earlier stage of devolution). The crushee may be:

  • Frenemy: You *hate* them. You want to tear them apart. You want to sink poisonous fangs into them and crunch their bones. And umm…maybe you want to do them. Sigh, the drama of it.
  • Friend: NononononoABSOLUTELYNO! your mind is screaming. This is the stuff of romcoms. And regretful memories years later that began with ‘We used to be friends until umm…’. Beer should not be mixed with tequila or vodka.
  • Friend’s crush: BFFs share everything, don’t they? Not the man, uh uh. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Or bid your friendship goodbye.

Type 5: ‘WTF just happened?’ Crushes

This crush happens because life is random.

  • Hormone overdrive crush: Women can blame this on PMS (post and pre) and the period. Men blame this on, well, being men. *Shrug* It happens, that’s all.
  • Same sex crush (if you’re straight, the other way if you are): You were checking that girl out! Admit it, you have a man-crush. You’re left wondering what part fits where. Don’t bother. It’ll pass before you figure it out.
  • Sudden crush on familiar, mundane person: Hollywood could earn a third of their romcom revenues from this one situation alone. Cue a bright spotlight or sunlight that mysteriously shines only on one person in the entire street. They’re just saying hi back to you. Why are they shining so brightly? Maybe it’s just too much white balance or maybe they fell into a fairness cream ad.

Type 6, Level 1: Social Media Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers don’t get out enough, thus experiencing Vitamin D deficiency, which messes up their emotion-rationale processing system. The crushee is:

  • A Display Picture: The reason women’s profile picture changes get SO many likes is that women have figured out way ahead of men what their best angles, their most come-hither looks and flattering poses are. Men can do it too. Really, I’ve had dozens of DP crushes.
  • Tweets: Maybe you have to be a word lover for this but don’t you just lurrve, lurrve, lurrve some people’s tweets? Each new pearl-of-wisdom/wisecrack/random reflection brings on a fresh surge of happy chemical in your brain. For the non-verbally inclined, there’s always Instagram, Imgur, Flickr and Vimeo.

Type 6, Level 2: Ulta Crushes a.k.a. Backward Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers have reached the ultimate urbane lifestyle and are about to implode Fight Club style. (see Type 6, Level 2 for earlier stage in devolution). The crusher becomes inordinately obsessed with the attention of people who already provide him/her attention and mistakes this for attraction. The crushee may be:

  • Commenter/Liker: The reverse social media trail has been followed up; the fantasy is complete. Being liked is addictive; you want to be liked more and you like them for liking you.
  • Secret Santa: (This, I heard on the social media) They’re sending you gifts! How many crushes do that in real life???
  • Service Provider: He fixed your internet connection when it was down. She served you just what you were hoping for, in your dabba, twice last week. They’re always there! *Sigh* Isn’t that the stuff of happily-ever-after?

* Image courtesy stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.

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The Friendship Frisson

I like to call it a frisson in friendship, not even something important enough to merit beginning with capitals and being preceded with a ‘the’. It’s that elusive sense that you can’t quite catch. If it had tangible form, it would be the thing that you seem to catch from the corner of your eye but when you look for it, it isn’t there. It only turns up when you don’t expect it and the minute you begin to think about it, it turns into something else or vanishes altogether.

Say there’s this friend you have. For simplicity, let’s assume this friend is of the opposite sex (though I think the frisson happens with same-sex friendships too, sexual orientation notwithstanding). You’re comfortable with each other, if you think about it, which you probably don’t do much; that’s part of the comfort level. Then it sneaks up on you.

Like a faint whiff that came up on you as memory first (because the memory-center is very close to the olfactory sense center in the brain, so smells trigger off instant memories). You can’t quite smell it just yet, even if you really strain your nostrils. But it is there, unmistakeably. The next time you notice it even more, perhaps because the last time threw you off a bit.

“四種男與女的吻 Four kinds of kisses between men and ...

“四種男與女的吻 Four kinds of kisses between men and women” #BW #Life / SML.20130116.Montage.20091001.10D.55055.P1.L1.BW.SML.20091220.7D.01633.P1.L1.SQ.BW.SML.20100202.7D.02686.L1.C45.BW.SML.20091129.SD850IS.03537.P1.L1.SQ.BW (Photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

It’s not insignificant enough for you to ignore. It’s there, the slight tremble that runs through you when they – your friend, you have to remind yourself – say your name. Or the tingling warmth in your cheeks that you’re aware will turn into a blush if you don’t clamp down on it by saying something very intelligent – and all because they paid you a compliment.

It’s also not big enough to be able to tell what it is – sexual, romantic, both or neither. All you know is that it’s there. You see your friend in a new light. Then you start noticing them noticing you. Wondering if they feel those things too. Deducing perhaps that they don’t. But then, recalling a funny look in their eyes a few months ago. Then remembering that the two of you didn’t speak for about a month after that. But that was because they were out of town. Wasn’t it? You’re thinking about it. It’s that frisson that’s making you think all this.

I think the frisson happens in all male-female friendships at some point of time. Perhaps even all male-female relationships. It’s a sudden crystal-sharp awareness of the other person’s sex. Maybe it’s a natural balancing out. If you’re used to seeing each other in a ‘purely platonic’ manner, nature throws at least one such frisson your way where your brain thinks of nothing but the opposite, if only for a brief minute.

If you’ve been very close for a long time, it can be confusing. If one or both of you are in committed relationships to other people, it can be destabilizing too. I think it sometimes happens as a result of loneliness, horniness or one person going through a difficult time and the other one being there for them. Many of us tend to desperately attach onto the person that’s good to us, during tough times.

The frisson may not be harmless. It’s probably what causes cheating in relationships that are going through rough patches. But it is also probably where longtime friendships that turn into love, begin. Frissons aren’t always permanent or reciprocated at the same time. I think it at least adds a little spice and flavour to an already nice relationship – friendship. And like most other things to do with human emotion, they can be managed with cool heads and communication. Or perhaps not, a frisson is probably the one thing I wouldn’t want to discuss with a friend that I otherwise talk to about everything, precisely because conversation could make it bigger than it actually is.

Well, who knows? The frisson defies definition.

Chick Lit

My new literary obsession is Chick Lit. Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes keep me in chocolate-box mood while Meera Syal and Advaita Kala add the desi tadka. Why, even fellow-blogger/’I-know-this-girl-friend-acquaintance’ Compulsive Confessor flashes her characteristic grin at me from my bedside bookstack.

I found this rather interesting piece on the internet, describing Chick Lit:

“Chick lit” is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties.

Now, I know I’m doing an about-face, especially after such rabid commmentary. I’m coming to this acceptance with much prior reluctance. I still have trouble accepting the term ‘chick’ to describe me or any woman I know. It’s degrading. However, I’m willing to lay down my shackles and admit that I’ve been reading (and enjoying) the genre called Chick Lit.

Chick Lit is the new Romance Novel. And it isn’t. As a genre it certainly is finding as much favour and spawning as many writers (and books) as the ubiquitous M&Bs. On the other hand, one may argue that romantic fiction was a genre built on common women’s fantasies while Chick Lit inter-twines what we consider our ideal life along with the proverbial gang-cribbing that each of us indulges in with our galpals over men, weight loss problems, career concerns and PMS.

Chick Lit, as most of the definitions state, is usually about twenty-something women, career-minded or not, married or not, successful or not. One thing they all are, is discontent with their lot. The careerwoman struggles with loneliness and jerky boyfriends, the beauty queen is slapped around and paraded as a sex toy/trophy partner and the housewife is wistful about missed opportunities. The Chick Lit heroine is Superwoman who survives on a steady dose of galpal advice, gay friends, alcohol-and-career swings and roller-coaster relationships. Friends are family, chocolate is the manna for all evils and the root of all evils can be summed up into one word – MEN.

Bosses, colleagues, friends, lovers, ex-boyfriends, flings, husbands of friends, partner’s buddies, friends’ partners, gardeners, milkmen, grumpy old men, uncles, teachers, fathers, cheery grocers, lecherous neighbors….men in every possible shape, size and relationship are examined back and forth. It is the Chick Lit’ter’s favorite hobby – Men.

If the Indian versions are different, it is only in that they’re usually set in Mumbai/Delhi instead of London/New York. The protagonists gorge on chicken tikkas and grab their capuccinos from Barista instead of M&S or Starbucks. Their mothers want to see them ‘well-settled’ instead of ‘settled down’. The men are just as committment-phobic, the careers just as unsatisfying, their bosses are just as demanding, their married neighbors consider them just as flighty and sluttish and their credit card bills are equally long.

Why do I like the genre so much? Simple. Because it is about me. That’s my life, my friends, my mistakes and my victories that are getting written about. Every page brings a, “Don’t I know it!”, an “Aha! You got ‘im there, girl!” and a “Bullshit, I heard the same thing from my second boyfriend when he was cheating on me.” It’s almost like having a new set of friends with every book.

You might even say it’s the modern, literary woman’s Soap Opera in a book format. If the women of yore wanted fantasy to keep them entertained, at least this I can say for my generation – we’re thriving on reality…or some warped version of it. Who needs a perfect fairytale when our own messed-up, vodka-spiked, overstressed lives are so much more interesting?

Chick Lit is empowering in a very strange way. It tells me that other women are having a hell of it too. That having a zero social life at twenty, in favour of slogging away at work was not a mistake. That getting married at twenty-three would not have spelt ‘happily ever after’ either. That my smug married, whiz-in-the-kitchen housewife friend acts superior to me but also thinks I’m living the glamourous, carefree life she only reads about in magazines.

It tells me that it’s okay to not feel diva-like at all times, to nurse worries over weight gain and cellulite. That it’s even okay to worry more about these than a missed deadline. That bad temper, unreasonableness and pukey-head-feeling are permissible once a month.

Chick Lit tells me life isn’t perfect (yes, I know someone said that long ago but catch me listening?). I mean look at the titles – The Undomestic Goddess, Life isn’t all Hahaheehee, Shopaholic, Almost Single. It also tells me that each of us is figuring out a new way of perfect. And who knows? Maybe Perfect will be the way I do it – My perfect!

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