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The Thing About Crushes

October 24, 2011

Timothy Hutton and Natalie Portman via: Beautiful Girls

I remember when I was a newlywed, I had an old camp flame coming into the city. The one that always made my heart beat a little faster. The one I would kiss every time we got together. I was newly married and he was coming to the city. It’s not that I wanted to kiss him, but it was then that I realized. Oh…marriage is… everyday.

One night, while sitting at home, not using the Cuisinart we had registered for for our wedding, I started to think about all the people I never quite got around to making out with, who I would have liked to make out with. One in particular came to mind. Brady Reardon.

I met Brady when I was younger. Way younger. Way too young for Brady. I was 16 years old the last time I had seen him. He was 26. He spent his summers right down the street from me. My relationship with Brady was similar to that of Natalie Portman and Timothy Huttons relationship in Beautiful Girls, only I didn’t wear overalls at 16. I was guilty of wearing inappropriate dresses and tops from Betsy Johnson. Truth be told I was 16 going on 26. It was a sweet, innocent relationship, that felt like more to me. Maybe because I had wanted it to be. But I was sure, in some way Brady liked me too, even though he ever acted on it (except for the one time he grabbed my cheek and kissed it softly, to which I vowed never to wash my face again. At least until later that evening. I mean, come on. I was a teenager and obsessed with Sea Breeze.)

Brady and I would flirt. Or rather, I would flirt with Brady. I know it sounds odd but it always felt like Brady flirted back. He treated me like a little sister but I always had a hunch, even then, that there was more to it. He was never inappropriate and always treated me with respect. Brady was from the south and had a hot southern accent that I didn’t get to hear much of in the Northeast. He was big and strong and just…dreamy. I hearted him completely.

The summer had ended, and it was my last summer with Brady.

Brady moved to Texas, or Atlanta. Possibly Alabama. Even though I lost him, I never forgot him. From time to time I would look him up. But never found him. Until one day, after my divorce, I found his parents. On the internet. Like a crazy stalker. Or like my mother. (see: My Mom The Stalker). I called them and asked for Brady’s contact information. Including his e-mail. I didn’t think I had the nerve to call, but I emailed him right away.

When I saw his name in my inbox I was psyched. It turned out, Brady was living down south still, he was divorced and had two children. We caught up quickly and I told him to let me know if he was ever in town. He promised to, but life got in our way and took us in different directions. Brady never came to town, that I knew of, and once again we lost touch…until Facebook.

Brady and I became Facebook friends, and exchanged a few e-mails back and forth. He was settled in his life down south, and I was in New York City. We talked about a visit soon, but it never came to fruition. Over time I would see his updates, though there weren’t many, and it appeared he had a girlfriend. Good for Brady. Bad for me. But enough about me…let’s talk about me.

I woke up one morning to find an e-mail in my Facebook inbox from him.
“Darcy, I am in the city if you want to meet up give me a call.” complete with his cell phone number.
My stomach dropped. It didn’t take one minute before I shot him a text, “Absolutely!”
Later that evening we picked a place to meet up for a drink.
I was standing outside waiting for Brady when I suddenly spot him walking toward me. From a distance he still had the same walk. I think I squealed like a pig from excitement, but kept it all inside. As he got closer I realized he wasn’t as tall as I remembered, but back then I didn’t wear 4 inch heels. He was still taller than me and that’s all that really mattered.

He approached and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He still felt the same. He had gone a bit grey and his stomach was a bit rounder than it used to be, but his smile was the same and so were his eyes. He let out a little laugh. Yep. It was Brady.
“Look at you, all tall…” He said.
“It’s the heels.” I said, as I flashed my foot at him.

We walked into the restaurant and grabbed a seat at the bar. I couldn’t believe I was sitting with Brady. His thick southern accent took me right back to my 16-year-old self. We talked about everything from our kids (his were teens now), our divorces, our careers, where we had been and where we were going. He told me about his relationship that had been going on for 2 ½ years.
“You are older than my girlfriend.” He said.
“Wow. That’s cool.” I guess? Or you are calling me old? Not sure.
Brady seemed pretty distant. Like he was out for drinks with a business associate.
“Brady, do you remember me?” I finally asked.
“Yea I remember you.” He said. It didn’t sound convincing. I mean, of course he remembered me. Enough to be my Facebook friend, and meet for drinks when he was in town. But that’s not what I meant.
“But do you remember me?” I asked again.
“Darcy, yes of course I do.” But there was no feeling in his answer.
“Do I look different?? Other than being 20 years older than the last time you saw me. Do you recognize me?” Okay, I was fishing. For something. Anything.
I realized in that moment, while as a teenager, I thought my crush on Brady was reciprocated in some way or another, it wasn’t. I was surprised. I could have sworn it was. Really, truly. Even my closest friends who watched our interactions would have guessed otherwise. But I could tell by his indifference he just thought of me as any other kid. Regardless, I was excited to see Brady and it was nice to catch up and talk about old summer memories we shared. Even if he hadn’t been wondering about me all these years and we had completely different memories of what our relationship was.

Feeling slightly deflated, fatigue was starting to set in. I had a really long day and had a very early meeting the following morning. I let out a yawn. I tried to hide it but failed miserably.
“Am I boring you?” He asked.
“No. I just had a long day, and I have an early meeting tomorrow.”
“I can’t believe you are yawning.”
“It’s not you. My brain is tired, but I’m not tired.” I carried a watermelon.
“You have the tiniest hands.” He said, placing his hand next to mine on the bar.
“I guess i’d prefer that to man hands.” I said and smiled.
“They are half the size of mine.” He said, pressing his hand to mine. The thing about Brady is he was always so rugged and strong. Still was. Even though he was looking a little softer around the edges.
“Want to get out of here and go somewhere else? Want to grab something to eat? Head to another place?”
“Whatever you want. You are the tourist in this town tonight.” I said. The truth is, while I was so excited to see Brady, and his smile made me feel about 20 years younger, I was bummed that my crush wasn’t reciprocated, and my adrenalin about seeing him and started wear off since it seemed I was just another random friend to him. I figured it was time to call it a night. Plus, we had already covered the fact that he was probably going to marry his longtime girlfriend.
“Let’s head out of here and find another place.”
He tipped the bartender one last time and put his hand on the small of my back (for a millisecond, not that I was counting) to escort me out of the restaurant.

We walked out of the bar onto the quieter city street.
“Where to?” he asked.
“Lets just walk and figure it out.” I said.

Suddenly, I felt a strong arm around my waist. It was so sudden I wasn’t even sure it was Brady. But it was. He whisked me to the side of the sidewalk and pulled me close. He kissed me. Hard. Good hard. Not bad hard or creepy hard. Just…passionately. It was so quick I could barely balance myself.

“Um… What was that?” I asked.
“Oh SHIT.” He said.
With that he kissed me again. Harder this time.
“FUCK.” He said, as he took a few steps back running his hands nervously through his hair.
“What?”
“Darcy. Damn you are beautiful.”
“What??”
Brady suddenly clenched his fists tight. He put his hands behind his head as though he were literally trying to hold himself back.
“UGHHHHHHH. Damn it.”
Great. Did Brady had Tourette’s? Had I missed that?
“Whats going on here? About 20 minutes ago I was wondering if you even knew who I was or that I was even a woman.” I asked.
He covered his face with his hands and slid them back through his hair.
“Of course I know who you are. I was just trying to be a gentleman, but then I couldn’t let this night go by without letting you know there was attraction. Man Darcy, you are sexy and you are beautiful. Look at you.”
I looked at him. Stunned. It was the moment I had always waited for and it was finally here.
“I kept asking you, all night, if you remembered me, because it seemed like you didn’t.”
“Darcy, of course I remember you. I thought you were beautiful then, I knew when you grew up you’d be this. But you were so young, and I would have never crossed that line. But of course I thought about it, you know, about when you were older. From the minute I showed up and saw what you look like now I knew I was in screwed.”
I knew it!
“I thought about it too. A lot.” I felt like a teenager making this disclosure. Not a grown woman with a child.
He leaned in to kiss me again. He held my face with his hands and looked into my eyes. Then he took a step back and started pacing around. He might have even walked away and came back. Here was this strong, tough guy who had lived in Iraq and fought in Desert Storm. And I was making him nervous.
I laughed nervously, “What’s wrong?”
He let out a deep sigh.
I knew what was wrong. He didn’t need to tell me. For as great as this moment was, he had a girlfriend. A long-term girlfriend. Who was everyday.
“Don’t make this mistake. You will regret it. And I don’t want to ruin us, and your memories of me, with feelings of guilt or regrets.” I said and took a healthy step backward.
“In two and a half years I have never come close to crossing the line. I don’t know what is going on Darcy. I just….” He made the clenched fists again.
I got it. We had been waiting for a moment like this for 20 years, literally, but life got in the way. First I was too young, then he was married, then I was married, now he had a girlfriend. Sometimes timing is everything.
“It really says something about chemistry.” He said.
“What do you mean?”
“We had it 20 years ago. And we have it now.”
“I know. But this isn’t our time. Again.” I smiled.
“When I saw you, you blew me away, and then you said you were 35, and I realized you were older than my girlfriend. You were a woman now. And I realized, you weren’t a kid anymore.”
“Sadly.”

In that moment I realized what was so amazing about Brady was that he would remain my crush. Crushes were perfect. They were flawless. Because they aren’t real. You don’t get to see people’s flaws. They are insulated in bubble wrap made of wishes and fantasies. You don’t know if they leave dishes in the sink, or don’t call when they say they will. You don’t know if they don’t handle conflict well or make terrible boyfriends. You do know that you think they are good-looking, funny and you are attracted to them in several ways. But a crush is a picture that you take, a snapshot that stays with you unmarred by reality. Sometimes a crush… is better than the real thing.

“I’m going to go before you make a big mistake.” I said, kissing him on the forehead.
“You’re killing me Darcy.”
He wanted to say he would call me, I wanted to tell him to. But for now, there was nowhere to go from here. He called me the next day to tell me how special he thinks I am.
“Likewise Brady.” I said, and silently thanked the universe he lived many states away.

And just like that, Brady was re-shelved in the crush archives of my mind. Maybe I would check him out of the library one day and take him for a spin. Life is unpredictable. You never know…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Katrin permalink
    October 24, 2011 4:26 pm

    I love this story. I think we have all been there. I love your writing Darcy! Keep it up! I always look forward to new posts.

    • October 24, 2011 4:30 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and your compliment means so much! I always like hearing from readers.

  2. Kate permalink
    October 25, 2011 7:10 am

    It was a nice story,well written.

    • October 25, 2011 8:32 am

      Thanks so much Kate ! I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting. Stay tuned!

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