The older I get, the more I run across people who bear a resemblance to people I used to know. The lastest occurance has been at the downtown Nashville Y. There's a woman who works out there who bears a striking resemblance to a girl I knew back in high school named Diana Sallaceti. I know this woman at the Y is close to my age because she was on an exercise bike a while back talking to another woman about her upcoming 32nd birthday.
Now, some of you are wondering--well, why don't you just go up and ask her if she is the person in question from your past.
Well, the thing is that while Diana Sallaceti and I had a bunch of classes together in high school, we were never really what I'd close personal friends. Certainly we knew who each other was, but we were never the closest of friends. Part of that was because I was buddies with a guy named Ryan Flynn during my sophomore year of high school.
Ryan's father was in the military and he also liked to watch Star Trek
. So, Ryan and I became friends on that basis. Ryan was a nice guy--he was pretty smart and got into some of the advanced classes our high school offered. Ryan also had a major crush on Diana...one that pretty much was totally unrequited.
The thing was, Ryan was pretty much very vocal about his undying love for Diana. To the point that it got embarassing. Ryan didn't quite get the clue that Diana had no interest in him. It was really kind of sad some days. For Christmas, he went out and bought her this expensive present and put it on her desk in our English class. He'd angle to get assigned to group projects with her so they could work spend more time together. We did a project on Shakespearian play and Ryan felt sure it was true love at last because he and Diana were cast in the role of some of the lovers in the play.
Needless to say, things didn't work out.
Ryan's family moved in the summer of our sophomore year. We kept in contact a bit after his move to the Washington state area, but in the days before everyone had e-mail it was a bit harder to maintain contact. We lost touch and I haven't heard from him in years.
I have no idea if he ever got over Diana and his unrequited crush on her. I feel certain probably did, though who knows--he may still carry that torch for her.
Unrequited love. When I think about it, I have this image of Charlie Brown from the old Peanuts cartoons and his pursuit of the Little Red Haired Girl (who I think does have a name, but I can't recall what it is). Poor ol' Charlie Brown--he suffers in silence all those years, loving the Little Red Haired Girl from afar, but never quite able to work up the courage to go over and talk to her. He send her a Valentine but never hears anything back. He takes hope in a glance over his way and hopes that maybe, just maybe someday, the Little Red Haired Girl will see him as something more than just a bald guy with a yellow shirt and a zig-zag black stripe.
A more modern example is the Ross and Rachel story from Friends
. Ross suffered in silence a long time, pining for Rachel. Rachel, for a long time, never saw Ross as anything more than a friend--a cool guy to hang out with but she never saw his as potential dating material until Chandler spilled the beans in the infamous season one finale. Eventually, we know that Ross and Rachel get together, then break up, then get back together, then break up and then finally end up together at the end of the series. Because they're destined to end up together...or at least the magical world that is TV romance tells us that.
Unrequited love. Or an unrequited crush. It can one of those unbearably awkward things that happens to us in our lives.
Driving around this weekend, I got the urge to listen to my Fleming and John CD. I "discovered" them a couple of years ago with the amusing song, "Ugly Girl." It's part of their CD "The Way We Are" where each songs charts the many stages of relationships--from the initial meeting and the giddiness you feel at meeting someone that could be someone special in your life to the relationship that just keeps hanging on, despite the fact you both know its over but neither of you will step up and do the break-up thing for fear of feeling like the bad guy. And, of course, there's "Ugly Girl" which is the--holy crap, you've replaced me with THAT person?!? song.
One of the songs on the CD is called "Shhhhhh!" and it's all about the unrequited love thing. It goes like this: You had the prettiest blue-green eyes Id ever seen And I got a kick out of the way they looked at me, Like I was a two-headed creature from another planet That thrilled and excited you, But you couldnt understand it Chorus Dont tell my ears, Cause theyre not listening. Dont tell my heart, It doesnt know what it is missing. Dont tell my eyes, I know they wont believe, That youre not in love with me We were inseparable, You followed me around, And I got used to this new friend that I had found. I pictured us together, I pictured us apart, And I knew from that moment, You were capable of breaking my heart.
ChorusSix months of being friendsWas all that I could standSo I worked up the courage To hold your handYou were bedazzled ,bewilderedI guess it was just too soonAnd when I worked up the courage to kiss youYou walked out...of the room
I have to say that I like this song a lot. The line "I pictured us together, I pictured us apart and right then I knew you were capable of breaking my heart." How many of us haven't been there? I have to admit I've been there far more often than I'd like to admit.
One of the things they say about a relationships that last and work is they are built on a friendship. And I can't tell you the number of times in my life I've gone for being friends first and see where things go from there. But, like Ross, I will quickly get assigned the role of "friend" and then never seen as anything more. Meanwhile, the object of your affection will go out with a series of really bad choices, all while you suffer in silence. The worst is when they come to you for advice on the relationship. (Hence why I never offer friends advice on relationships. I make it clear that I am offering what I think based on what I know, feel and what they've told me. In the long-run it helps keep the friendship stable).
I will also admit that at times, I've known women who I've had a crush on from afar and who probably barely know I exist. Or that I barely register on their radar of people who come into their lives on a regular basis. And just like Charlie Brown, I lack the courage to get up off my lunch bench, go over and take a risk. I think the thing is--I am concerned about looking foolish or embarrassing myself. A lot of times, I see that withering look Diana gave Ryan when he plopped a huge wrapped gift down on her desk. That horrified look of--what the hell do I do here? This guy is definitely so far past a line but I don't know what to do! She'd told him so many times she was interested but he just couldn't get the clue.
So, when I see this woman at the Y who looks like her, I think about my buddy Ryan and his crush. And then I think about the women in my life I've fallen for and who either didn't know or we were friends and that cut off that avenue of romantic pursuit before it began. And as I get older, I keep hoping that maybe I'll learn from the past, be bold when I need to be and not miss opportunities.
But sometimes, I have to admit, I'm as bad as Charlie Brown or Ross about these things. I get a bit paralyzed by fear--not only of rejection but also of what if it succeeded? How often do we pursue someone so much that once you get that first date or into a relationship, you have no idea how to react now? You've put some much time into the pursuit that you never once thought--now what?
Shakespeare says it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I wonder if he ever had a unrequited crush? Becuase if he did, he might see things a bit differently.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/18/2005 07:56:00 AM