It turns out that there are many things that I thought were so universal and obvious that they didn’t need to be discussed, but in this particular instance, and many others, I am wrong. Given the general trend among people to be willfully illiterate I suppose it is not surprising that Literary Crushes are not as common a phenomenon as I thought. As the name suggests, a Literary Crush is a romantic infatuation with a fictional character. This is not to be confused with the insanity associated with Twilight characters which I can only term as emotional cultdom. I am talking about a normal, healthy, I-really-wish-this-was-a-real-person-so-we-could-meet-and-fall-in-love-and-be-happy-forever crush. What may not be quite so healthy is that I have considerably more literary crushes than real person crushes, but I’m going to attribute that to spending more time with books than people.
It was also recently brought to my attention that there are far more crush options available to women than men- varying of course depending on the kind of person you are into. Assuming you are into dynamic character-people you really can’t get invested in traditional romance novel characters and for some reason the women in fiction tend to be accessories to the story, and not nearly so confident, strong and sexy as their fictional male counterparts. Of course there are exceptions, otherwise guys would have no idea what I’m talking about (I hear Daisy Buchanan is popular) but I get their point overall.
Ladies on the other hand, we get to take our pick from the likes of Mr. Darcy, Rhett Butler, Matthew Clairmont et cie(which is only the tip of a very large iceberg). And while there will always be criticism of taking fiction too seriously, I highly value and encourage a nice literary crush. It can help you figure out what you like and don’t like without the messy fallout of actually experiencing it and hurting some very non-fictional feelings. It can help you assemble a blueprint, as it were, to match real people up against when looking for specific traits you know you adore (though this can definitely be taken too far). Best of all, your literary crush is always there in your head when you want to spend time with them- which is also the worst of all, since they can’t actually exist outside of your head.
There are some very clear pros and cons to any crush, but I can’t recommend a good Lit Crush enough. The nature of that crush is entirely up to you, and you don’t have to tell anyone how serious you are about them… until the wedding and/or hysterical pregnancy.
Most of us have an ex, or two, or twelve. Whatever the case may be chances are not everyone from your past falls into this category. You went out a couple times, but were never really exclusive. You hooked up, but to even call it a friendship would be overstating things. You hung out everyday for a little while, but the exchange of bodily fluids was at an absolute minimum. These are the people (in my particular case, guys) who I put into the “Almost” category.
They had the potential to be an Ex, had the stars aligned and things turned out differently- but they didn’t. And now when you’re telling your friends about that time with the guy from the place you can accurately refer to him (or her) as an Almost. Despite the obvious advantages in retelling stories since there is no longer that awkward pause where you try to explain the exact dynamics of your non-relationship, the simplicity of the word naturally leads to a simplicity of the emotions involved. Much like calling a rejection a work of fate. It puts the whole experience in perspective. If he wasn’t really your boyfriend then you don’t really need to plague yourself with doubt about your oh-so-charming attributes when he doesn’t call. There is no breakup with an Almost, only a drifting out of your life. If he was so boring you’ve tried to block those hours out of your memory then you never have to admit to anyone that he was your boyfriend again. If your girlfriend went to parties without you and made out with random strangers, you would be understandably upset, but when your Almost does it you can happily hope that at the end of the night they will come home to you sloshed and half-naked. You know, or not.
This restructuring of titles and pigeonholes opens up some new options for the future, too. Go ahead and go out with the guy that no one you’re related to or friends with should ever meet- he can be an Almost and you can get a good night out of it. Since an Almost is a total absence of classification you can do what makes you happy and non-awkwardly introduce each other to people without confusion.
This is not to say that an Almost can’t become a proper, exclusive, significant other since, as the name suggests, that person was almost something and could possibly still have the potential to be. But commitment is entirely at your discretion.
Since I am currently fairly occupied with being very busy and important I may spare an evening sometime soon to go find myself a new Almost- so much less work than a boyfriend…
Honorable Mention: Man in the cafeteria, I very much enjoyed my ball point landscape portrait. “Hola,” to you, too.