It’s been years since I got that teen-crush feeling. When I was younger my walls were plastered with celebrity crushes – mostly thanks to pages cut from Just 17 magazine (which, incidentally, was perfect for a thirteen year old but by the time I hit 17 seemed childish and disappointing). There were guys I fancied, guys I vaguely thought might be decent boyfriend material, and guys I’d stare at for hours imagining exactly how they’d come in for a kiss. Taj out of 3T had the best pre-kiss build up, if I remember my youthful fantasies correctly.
I remember the ache most – the longing. The knowledge that there was absolutely no way I’d ever get to meet my celebrity crushes, let alone have the courage to say a wobbly ‘hello.’ At the time it was borderline painful, and it gives me pangs of sadness to this day when I see youthful One Directioners begging for a Harry Styles follow: they know they probably won’t get it, but every atom of their crush-filled being pushes them to chase this impossible dream.
Adult celebrity crushes
I have a million and one crushes as an adult, but most of them lack that same passionate desperation. Although my youthful crush fantasies revolved mainly around kissing the object of my desire, when I grew up a bit, despite understanding the sticky delight in going much further, I still didn’t usually think about fucking the celebrities I loved. This was probably due to the fact that the vast majority of my crushes were on comedians. I’d see guys on stage being hilarious, and all I could imagine was buying them a beer, having a chat, and exchanging jokes until we were both pissed and hurting with laughter. Crucial to the fantasy was the reciprocal laughter. As a kid I wanted mutually desired kisses – boyband heartthrobs who were as excited be kissing me as I was them. Slightly older, and I dreamed of meeting a funny man and making him laugh. I think they call it narcissism.
Unfortunately, I met one of my adult crushes once: a brilliant stand-up who looks uncannily like Rik Mayall on growth hormones. He was gigging at a club I go to a lot, and after his set it looked like he was staying around for a drink or two. I stared dreamily at him from across the room, until eventually a friend of mine nudged me in his direction.
“Go and talk to him, you dick. You’re supposed to be good at this.”
“Slander. I have never ever claimed to be particularly good at ‘this’. I have, in fact, frequently expressed surprise at how lucky I am given that I have wobbly confidence and a mortal fear of showing myself up in front of hot guys.”
“Just go and talk to him. Buy him a drink or something.”
So I did. I screwed up every ounce of my courage (Dutch and otherwise), and sauntered over to him as casually as you can saunter when all your limbs are trembling and you’ve forgotten how to speak.
“Hi,” I said, wittily.
“Hi,” he replied, with a friendly smile.
“I… umm… I think you’re great.” He smiled again, and my brain forgot how to do things. “Can… can I buy you a drink?”
He looked at me for quite a while, as if trying to work out what to say. I had no idea what he was thinking – it could have either been something awful “how do I get rid of this stuttering super-fan?” or something amazing “how do I respond well enough to put this lady at her ease so I can have her sitting on my lap by the end of the evening?”
Unfortunately, what he was actually doing was working out a polite way to point out that I was an idiot. As I smiled at him, hoping against hope he’d say yes, he broke eye contact with me, looked slowly downwards, and stared at the brim-full pint sitting in front of him.
“I’ve already got -”
I ran away. Before he’d even finished his sentence I was halfway across the room. I ran without saying anything else, because my throat had closed up and my tongue wouldn’t move. I grabbed my coat and my friends and rushed to the tube before anyone could try to change my mind. On the long journey home I alternated between waves of nauseated panic that I’d made myself look like a dick in front of one of my heroes, and triumph that I had at least managed to say a couple of words to him.
It’s lucky I never met Taj, after all. I’d only have disappointed him.