Unrequited crushes are unavoidable for someone like me. The French have a saying—avoir un coeur d’artichaut: to have an artichoke heart. If you have an artichoke heart, pieces of your heart can be stolen away as easily as leaves are plucked from an artichoke. I have an artichoke heart, but I am also a tad chubby with masculine features and a deeply insecure nature. In other words, I am the guy’s best friend who cracks jokes at inappropriate times, all the while pining for said guy while he comments that he’d like to borrow my shirt sometime.
By high school, I was so used to crushing out on the boys who were busy crushing out on my friends that I began to search for more unavailable men. Specifically, gay boys. My high school romance was one long string of gay boyfriends, or gay best friends that I was secretly in love with. One time, a gay friend and I were crushing out on the same slender, shaggy-haired boy who scooped ice cream at the downtown parlor. My friend was certain that the ice-cream scooper was gay and I was very hopeful that he wasn’t. So we made a bet, and ice-cream scooper became my tentative boyfriend for about 3 weeks, before ditching me for a third gay friend. I lost the best. My rolodex was filling up with hot, groomed guys to get dressed up and go dancing to ABBA with, but my personal dance card remained empty.
If you have a couer d’artichaut, you need romance in your life. The zing of a crush is a vital, necessary energy that fills you with inspiration and joy. And true love, even better. I would go so far as to say that once anyone has experienced true love, it becomes the ultimate experience that we hope all things will eventually turn into. I experienced true love with my first serious boyfriend, Gabe. We were together for 11 years. And even though we parted ways because I wanted children and he didn’t, he remains the love of my life. He is my ultimate, eternal unrequited love. Zing. How’s that for being a romantic?
But sometimes we love people who aren’t right for us, and life goes on. I have gotten very good at moving on over the years. Frightfully good at it. So here, for your enjoyment, is my Gallery of Unrequited Crushes: