S/He’s just doing that because s/he has a crush on you.
Pushing my way through crowded pub a few months back, I found myself in a bad mood, frustrated with slow bar service, rude patrons trying to knock me down or pat me down (I’m sorry, did your hand just ‘fall’ on my ass?) and other standard Friday-in-the-West-Village-isms. I finally pushed my way to the front of the line and turned around to grab my partner-in-crime R’s drink order when someone caught my eye for a second. He looked at me like I was an idea, curious yet disengaged from the pseudo-reality of the warzone that is Village Tavern. After staring for a half-second longer than socially acceptable, my attention was directed to R, who tossed me her credit card and loudly proclaimed “Drinks for them too!” ‘Them,’ it turns out, included him, and through a blur of PBR tall boys and duck hunt, the dulcet sounds of badly-mixed Britney and woo girls became the backdrop to something I hadn’t experienced since college.
When someone is mean to you repeatedly before puberty, the Adult Handbook dictates that children are told the sentence at the top. He pushed you in the mud? It’s because he likes you. She won’t stop pulling your hair? She thinks you’re cute. Simple words like this are drilled into us at a young age, an introduction to a lifetime of misunderstanding, misreading, and straight-up missing signals from the desired sex. We learn what this is before we can even understand the all-encompassing, wild, unrestrained whirlwind of emotions that accompany the oft-maligned Crush.
It’s an odd term to use to describe the confusing flurry of emotions that arise when you see the person, especially because the actual crushing of something doesn’t generally happen. Sorting through the tangled chains of “I think he likes me back!,” “He definitely doesn’t like me back,” “OMG IT’S HIM YOU GUYS WHAT DO I RESPOND” and “Ugh, I’m so not trying to deal with these games right now” isn’t crushing, it’s exciting. It’s an unknown adventure with a new person, like a quest to find a truth in the patterns of the butterflies on permanent flutter in your stomach since that first chance meeting. It’s having your heart broken just a little bit, enough to remind you that it’s still there and still healing. It’s just enough of an emotional roller coaster to be fun without actually interrupting your daily life.
As they often do, that first crush faded after a while, a blip in my misadventures in single life. But it reminded me how lovely it is to have someone make you smile like that. Having a crush is like summer vacation. It’s lazy and easy, it’s exciting and adventurous. It’s smiling, first inward and then for everyone, as you try to remember your first conversation, joking about Snapchat, distracted by his smile. It’s trying not to overanalyze anything and overanalyzing everything, telling yourself you’re being silly as you debate the merits of “lol” vs “haha” when he finally texts you. It’s scary, and new, and exciting, and wonderful, and weird.
It’s exactly what it needs to be. It’s just a Crush.