How ‘Bout Them Transparent Dangling Carrots?
by H D Thompson
As children we all aspire to the absolute unobtainable, our budding imaginations running riot and we believe even the most fantastic things to be true. Kids believe in things we as adults don’t, like mythical creatures and the like, because the idea that they exist is so exciting, so thrilling that believing they aren’t there is unfathomable. As a child you are allowed this imaginative liberty and you don’t even know it. Much like the unreciprocated hum of a crush.
As a child, a dragon was my first crush. Not a crush in the way we derive it, I didn’t lust after a beast, but that warm unobtainable feeling you get from crushing on someone. I loved dragons so wholly that I honestly didn’t think I would ever do anything but one day own a dragon. I am sure other kids feel the same about a lot of things.
On a slightly related almost therapeutically relevant topic, I have now a nasty habit of crushing on unobtainable men. Almost every single man I fall head over lanky feet for has been that dangling carrot ever a metre from my grasp.
My first celebrity crush didn’t come till I was in my late teens, and it was as pathetic as it sounds. I would watch the TV show he was in and honestly believe we would be together one day. I would wrap my arms around him in a dream and wake up lighter than the night before. I wrote a letter to him once, but by the time I realised I had never gotten a reply the crush was gone. So fleeting the feeling.
My first real crush was on a friend in High School, as a lot of us are want to do, but this friend was a straight boy. I would follow him around with puppy eyes and laugh full heart at his jokes – that wasn’t really faking, he was genuinely funny. I would look at the schoolyard riddled with boy and girl couples all around, holding hands, leaning on one another or even swapping spit here and there and the pangs of hurt that I wouldn’t have that would be there, but for then the warmth of a crush was just enough to push out the cold bite of reality. I had a crush on him for the last couple of years of school and the thought I wouldn’t see him any more was devastating. I was losing him and there was nothing I could do about it. The dangerous thing about crushes is that they trick you into believing they are something more than unreciprocated desire. You believe that you two are together, entwined by fate, even though it couldn’t be further from the truth.
In every job I have ever had, I have crushed on straight workmates. It’s childish, even going so far as to swap shifts with someone to work with them if I was deprived of the opportunity. Nothing ever happened; I just wisped about light and happy in fantasy love. Sometimes just having my crush near me, agreeing with my opinion or laughing at something I said would be enough to clear the slate on what might have been a horrible day.
The first time I had a crush on a gay boy was the scariest – something could possibly happen, the dangling carrot suddenly swinging within my reach. Of course, for a good while he was in an untouchable stable-relationship-bubble which no doubt sparked the initial flame, but the second he wasn’t, the mercury shot to the top of the thermometer, burst out and erupted throughout me.
One day, something did happen and we ended up fooling around a couple of times. I was ecstatic and glowing and light and happy. People even commented, remarking on this stranger before them with no fleck of darknesss whatsoever to be found. What had he done with Harry?, they would ask. I would shrug with gleeful ignorance and skip off into the sunlight to the internal beat of an Icehouse song. Of course, that light didn’t last. What do you do when you get the carrot? My only thoughts for years were on reaching it, and now I finally held it and not the foggiest of what to do with it. It turns out I needn’t thought about that for too long, for he was on another level and I was nothing other than a play thing. He told me this, but I was too far gone and couldn’t help myself; I kept taking dangerous bites. These feelings had lingered so long they had taken over. When he shut me down completely, I broke a little. That was a new shade of hurt for me, and as silly as it seems now in reflection, loving him in my head was much safer than real tangible actual feelings. I now know that crushes are clean but the true thing is dirty and hard; a lesson I’m sure everyone learns at some point.
That’s the interesting thing about the unobtainable, once in your grasp they become real. These stars aren’t pretty five sided glowing things decorating the sky, they are balls of gas and they have imperfections and individual thoughts like everything else. I hear stories of young celebrities dating older ones they had crushes on when they were younger, and I pity them. How horrible it must be to be the older, having to live in the shadow of the poster pin up you used to be and not being able to live up to the younger’s expectations.
I believe that a crush is nothing more than just a dream, a cloud to build around you until the real thing comes along. Something to hug you while you sleep alone in your double bed, to tickle your lonely dreams, but they have the power to turn toxic and it’s that power we learn to control the farther we fade from the happy ignorance of infancy.
If I was to ever get a dragon as a child I would have been over the moon happy, the kind of happy that brightens the world and lifts you up over mountains high. The dragon could have been the nice friendly thing I had made it in my mind – letting me ride on its back, bonding with my soul and being my best and truest friend. Some kids dream of a pony or a car or a video game. I was smart to dream of the impossible, because more likely, it would have been a wild untamed beast, and it could have eaten me alive, or, at the very worst, tore out my heart with its indifference to me.