By RYAN BEARDSLEY
Special to the Sun-Gazette
I was thinking recently of my first crush.
To save her any embarrassment, I'll just call her Sally for the purposes of this column.
I fell for Sally in the fourth grade; and boy, did I fall hard. She had long, brown hair that flowed most of the way down her back and the prettiest face that I had ever seen. I was convinced that Sally and I would live happily ever after.
Naivety went a long way in elementary school.
I was a geeky and awkward red-headed boy who had no idea how to approach a girl, let alone ask her to be my girlfriend; whatever being "boyfriend and girlfriend" meant in those days.
I used to buy Sally all kinds of gifts. Chocolates for Valentine's Day. Cheap bracelets on her birthday. Probably numerous other embarrassing trinkets that I can't quite remember anymore.
When middle school came, I would hunt her down at dances and ask her to slow dance. Bless her heart, she would always say yes, despite the incredible embarrassment I'm sure she suffered from her friends afterward.
Sally always made it clear that she did not find me boyfriend material, but she didn't have the heart to break mine. When I think back on it now, I?see how patient she must have been to put up with her nerdy little admirer for so long. I don't think I fully gave up on that crush until the end of middle school.
If I had the opportunity to talk with Sally today, I'd probably thank her for being so considerate of my crush. A lot of kids at that age probably wouldn't have handled it with as much grace as Sally had.
Sometimes I think of crushes like Sally's when I'm starting to feel a little too comfortable in my marriage. I forget about the little things that sometimes can make a big difference with your significant other. Random flowers for no reason. A trip to the movie that she's been talking about every time the preview comes on. Dish soap that says I was listening when she told me when we were out.
I'm trying not to forget how to crush, because is there a more exciting and pure feeling in the world? The butterflies in your stomach. Fumbling over words. Going out of your way just to make her happy.
Comfort with another is a good thing, but too much is boring. The way we crushed on others back in elementary and middle school can teach you a lot about how to go about a relationship. Feelings were so innocent back then, but they were honest, too.
So many things can complicate an adult relationship. It's nice to think about the simple aspects of the relationship, such as the qualities that made me fall in love with my wife in the first place. Heather may have one hard chocolate shell, but she's a ball of soft, emotional caramel in the middle.
So, thanks Sally, for not only teaching me how to crush, but also for putting up with me at that age. To be fair, though, my crush on you only lasted several years. My wife has to put up with me for the rest of our lives.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, was a former Sun-Gazette reporter. He now resides in Scranton. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.