When I was in middle school, I had a boycrush on my big brother’s best friend. He was tall, blonde, and dimpled. He smelled like “man” and when he smiled I thought I could fly. I crushed this boy so hard that my brother paid him to take me out on a date (I found out later, but honestly, wouldn’t have cared either way). I don’t remember anything about that date except for when he dropped me off. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we didn’t French or even peck. Once I left his car, he was halfway down the street before I reached my front door.
Why do I remember this boy crush?
This dream date morphed into a nightmare. This perfect person whom I had placed on a pedestal didn’t even make sure I was safely in my house before he peeled out. That’s not how Prince Charming behaved. He worshipped his princess and rode in on a white horse. Hadn’t this guy read the books and seen the movies? Didn’t he know that if he was fulfilling my fantasy he needed to make sure no wolf attacked before I entered my castle? Apparently, he wasn’t the one who messed up. It was me. I painted him perfect.
Who is this crush?
You know him. He’s every dream boy outside a girl’s grasp. Even though she’s desperate to be seen by him, she’ll go unnoticed. In Never Been Kissed Drew Barrymore takes on this role to a tee and even shows what happens when you get who you think is your teen crush. The thing is you don’t need to see a picture of the boy from my past to remember the one from yours. He was in your school, that boy you woke up hoping to see; the one who left you empty inside when he skipped. If you were lucky enough to get to know him, you wanted him even more. My teen crush is your teen crush and that’s the experience I retell when my characters fall in love in my books. But in all of those cases he isn’t real.
How do we learn from crushes?
In writing as in life, people are flawed. When someone is too good to be, they will eventually let us down when we see their humanity, like my crush did as he Indie-500-ed down the street. We think we want someone, like the celebrities who make us starry-eyed on the big screen, until we read about their lives in the tabloids and suddenly, we’re not interested anymore. The real test is when those flaws surface and we see what’s in our hearts through our characters’ reactions. Building flaws into love enables relationships to grow because we see ourselves in those flawed characters. We find hope in knowing love’s possible because we’re imperfect. That’s why 50 Shades and Twilight work so well. Regardless of the story or the storytelling, we know that boy. We have loved that boy. And in YA, we get to create that boy, even if he breaks our hearts.
Here's a great clip from Never Been Kissed, where Josie (Drew Barrymore) sums up my points much better than I ever could:
Jaimie Engle writes dark fiction where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She's a cosplayer, podcaster, entrepreneur, and speaker at schools, conferences, and colleges across Florida. She published 7 books and now works with Saritza Hernadez of the Corvisiero Literacy Agency on upcoming projects. Check out her story-scented candle line Wick Books™ and follow her at www.theWRITEengle.com. Stalk on social media @theWRITEengle & support: www.Patreon.com/theWRITEengle.