Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

Orange Crush
by Adrienne Martini

Oh, the shame of it all.

Before I show you one of the many sooty smudges that mars conscious like so many spots on a dalmatian, let me say this: I am happily married. My husband is exactly the man I am meant to be with. While I am full of fist-chewing doubts about so much else in my life, our suitability for each other has always been as reliable as an atomic clock or the tides. What I am about to confess to bewilders me as much as the next gal, given my professed contentment with the mate Iíve chosen.

My most recent crush has found himself a girlfriend and I find myself irrationally brimming with jealousy. And I have no idea what to make of this sudden flood of inappropriate emotion.

Crushes and girls have skipped hand-in-hand from the first day a caveteen swooned before a hunky fireside crooner. My own infatuations started the day I first clapped eyes on Leif Garrett, who was introduced to me by my best friend Denise, who was herself madly in sweaty-palmed lust for Shawn Cassidy.

(An aside: my best girlfriends and I were divided on the Garrett/Cassidy issue, with each of us falling firmly in one camp or another. Tina D. and I chose the future balding junkie who would cripple his best bud in a high-driving debacle. This (and my later attraction to Trainspottingís Renton) says something, but my head gets all swimmy when I try to divine exactly what this says.)

Once puberty really took hold and MTV made it to my part of town, my crush easily transferred to Duran Duranís John Taylor. Soon, my bedroom was literally wallpapered with posters snagged from Tiger Beat and Teen, two publications I single-handedly kept in business. Scary as it is, I would still trade a major body part to spend ten minutes in the same room as Taylor, much less get to actually speak to him.

As I got older, my crush webwork spun out further, spinning beyond candy-coated pop stars to snare boys that were actually attainable. Although "attainable" may not be the best word, since I crushed hardest on the boys that were way out of my league, from the skiing sensation (who, in later life, would actually make it to the Nagano Olympics) in my drama class to the college sophomore debate coach (who I would make a drunken pass at during an out-of-state debate tournament my high school senior year, only to be rebuffed, which was heartbreaking at the time but, in hindsight, a very good thing). I hardly dated at all during these years, preferring, instead, to dream about the boys who would never have me than spend time with the ones who were actually interested in me.

I have now had enough therapy to bandy about words like "defense mechanism" and "transference" and "wacko" with ease and confidence, and fully realize that the objects of my imaginations hinted at some larger, unresolved issues about men. Still, Iíd like to point out that these relationships, while purely fictional works, were much more interesting than the real-life relationships I was actually having. Which, again, says something.

My crushes would phase themselves out as I got older, I reasoned, since, to a teenager, everyone over the age of 25 is too old to think about boys and sex and stuff. Only they didnítĖand have moved from unattainable men (although, I still harbor a few clammy fantasies about a certain Scottish actor and a certain barely-legal tennis phenom) to single men that, if the universe were just the tiniest bit different, I would have little problem at least getting a date with. Which is scary, but for a new reason. Am I unhappy with my long-term relationship on such a subconscious level that my eye keeps casting about for a back-up plan? Am I that afraid of admitting that Iím committed to just one guy than I feel compelled to have a pinch hitter warming up in the dugout? Or does everyone do this?

While I do suspect that most women have similar imaginings, itís not something we talk about during dinner parties or sewing circles. Itís not the easy topic to broach, either, without looking just the tiniest bit trampyĖnot that thereís anything wrong with that, but, still. To complicate matters further, one of my best girlfriends is now married to one of my old crushes, making the subject even that much more tricky. "Hey," I can imagine the conversation starting, "I used to imagine your spouse in such a state that I blushed every time he talked to me in real life." Thereís just no good place to go with that.

So here I sit, in my little puddle of shame. My most recent crush, who seemed like he might be single forever, has found himself a woman to love, a woman who is not me. While I am mostly happy that he is in this blissful state and can easily admit that they are quite well-suited for each other, I am still teeth-grindingly jealous, which may not make me a bad person but isnít a big gold star on the life report card.

Despite my current wound, things are looking upĖfor loose definitions of "up," anyway. One of the radio jocks that I do a weekly spot with caught my attention in that melty way this morning. Wonder if he has a girlfriend...
Adrienne Martini is a writer and mama in Knoxville, TN.  Look for her new column beginning in March -- only on AustinMama.com