Only, I didn't know it was a crush, I mean, how does one distinguish thinking someone is the shit to actually realizing you want to go home and have their babies? I should explain also here—my reading material was Judy Blume and Louisa May Alcott. And even the Judy Blume I read was pretty tame—Superfudge and Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, none of the preteen angst of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. And everyone knows Lousia May Alcott, who liked little girls to be little girls. I was a quiet sort of child, sat in the front row with round spectacles, read my books behind textbooks, and he was the loud sporty kind, who always returned from Games or Lunch smelling of sweat, and sat in the back row and laughed really loudly. But, even though all my better instincts told me that he was so not my type (well, not in those words of course. I didn't even realise I had a type. I didn't know what this type was. I still wore an undershirt for god's sake), the sight of him sauntering into class, usually late, usually with his hair carefully parted in the middle, all messed up, would cause my heart to start pounding wildly. Keep in mind, this was also before I was a smoker, so this was all biological.
Then, I got pneumonia. And, stay with me, this is important. I was very, very ill for quite a few months, I don't even remember much of it, except endless doctors visits and blood tests and then, as I was recovering, I got pneumonia again and bronchitis to go with it (and here is also what my mother tosses at me whenever she suspects I've been smoking: I have this weak lung, apparently. It feels pretty strong to me, so I think she's making it up). They thought I had AIDS, even, because it took me so long to get well. And after one of my many doctors visits and so on, my mother took me to a bookstore to cheer me up and the bookstore lady said, "Here's a new series that has become very popular these days," and pointed me to a rack filled with these shiny books all called The Sweet Valley Twins And Friends.
Those twins epitomize my preteen years. They told me how to tell if I had a crush on a boy, how you should prefer to be like Elizabeth, the smarter, more level headed twin, but how it seemed like Jessica was having so much more fun. I think I even remember the standard opening line, something about how they both had ocean blue eyes and long blond hair and dimples in their right cheeks, but Elizabeth was the older by four minutes and this seemed like four years. Anyway, so through my reading of the Sweet Valley Twins, I realized I did indeed have a crush. And according to Jessica and Elizabeth (well, not so much Elizabeth because she had this steady boyfriend called Todd Wilkins) the only way to deal with a crush was to do something about it.
But I wasn't a California blonde with ocean blue eyes and so on. I didn't even have a super cool club I could belong to. And forget wearing purple every day, school uniforms were designed to make you look as unattractive as possible. And besides, when I returned to school, the object of my affection had taken up with this other girl, a sporty type herself, tall and slender and with a way of sucking on her Orange bar that made you realise you could never be like her.
As luck would have it, both became my friends later on. And though the two of them "broke up" (when dating is just about saying you're dating, or sitting together at a movie theatre, it's not such a big deal) I found that my friends had more Sweet Valleys. Only, Jessica and Elizabeth were now in high school and way beyond our comprehension. They did everything in high school. I remember a couple of years ago, actually freaking out when I saw some people doing lines because I remembered the Sweet Valley High where Regina Morrow, poor deaf Regina Morrow, who was still very beautiful and dating the reformed "player" of the school, died because she did Coke. Her heartbeat skipped apparently. The subtle don't-do-drugs-kids worked on me, for sure.
When they moved to University (although it's always puzzled me, if Elizabeth was so smart and so ambitious, why would she choose a state university like Sweet Valley? Why not Harvard or Yale or some such?) we pretty much grew out of them. Who were they targeting now anyway? If they were planning on roping in the twelve year olds who loved Sweet Valley Twins, they should have also realized that the former twelve year olds were only fifteen, and not quite inclined to read something that read like an adult soap opera. Plus Sweet Dreams came
out around then too, and suddenly it was about Romance and candlelight and not someone marrying someone else. Teenage romance. Stuff we wanted and never got from the boys we knew.
Therefore, at the end of this fairly meaningless post, I'd like to say two things:
a) we read a lot of junk. But I'm curious, was there a boy's equivalent? Did you have a series, more mature than Hardy Boys, full of love and intrigue?
b) One day, when I was in class nine and walking back with two of the girls who had dated former Object Of Affection, one of them said, "Ya, he's a damn sloppy kisser." This did not make me feel better then, because I wanted to be able to say that myself, but in retrospect, I'm glad my first kiss was non-sloppy and rather fun.