Thursday, February 7, 2013

Do We Ever Get Over That First Crush?



 I’m on Cloud Nine, folks, absolutely giddy over the four-and-a-half-out-of-five “fangs” review of Dragon posted by paranormal author, Kristy Berridge, on her blog a few days ago. Click the link under her picture to check it out…
                                                                 Kristy's Review   
  How about that? Yeah, I’m still dancing around days later, even though it’s not the highest-rated review I’ve had for this book (in fact, it’s the lowest, but, never mind, that’s not the point). Why? Well, I’m ‘a tell you why, right now. 

 I’ve been waiting for this review for a while, with more than the usual trepidation. (I actually wrote most of this blog post over a month ago, when I first realized what was going on.) You see, when I published my first novel in 2011, I was introduced to Kristy’s blog and was impressed with her clever postings and conscientious reviews. I read and reviewed her novel, The Hunted, which I enjoyed. I gave her a copy of my novel to review.

   She took her own sweet time getting around to reading it (she later told me the original cover put her off), so I was a little surprised when the second book popped up on her “recent reads” list as quickly as it did. It stayed at the top for a long time, and I kept expecting the review to appear any day. It didn’t. In fact, other books on the list seemed like they were getting bumped ahead of it. Normally, I would let this kind of thing go, but in Kristy’s case, it bothered me.

   As the weeks dragged on, I began to get more and more anxious. I started poking around in other venues to see if she’d posted the review on Amazon or Goodreads and was just waiting for the right time to put it on her blog. You know, when other obligations were out of the way. Eventually, I decided that she hated the book and was wrestling with how to give it a bad review and not hurt my feelings.

   That’s okay, I thought. Just be honest, Kristy. I can take it. Go ahead and get it over with. And why should I care anyway? My books aren’t for everyone. Some people like them. Some people don’t.

   But I really wanted Kristy to like it, and I instantly understood why when I ran across her profile picture on Goodreads. Check it out…

   When I saw that smile, my heart skipped a beat. You see, I was the occasional lucky recipient of that smile from another girl long ago. Yep, that's right. I had become a victim of what we call in the counseling profession, counter-transference, something that happens when a counselor projects the personality of someone he’s known in the past onto a client.
   I wanted to please an old girlfriend. And not just any old girlfriend. Kristy Berridge was Jackie, the girl I had a huge crush on from my adolescent years all through high school, and, although I haven’t seen her for 45 years, even today.

   Not to take anything away from Kristy (which can be one of the dangers of counter-transference, by the way).  If the above photo is any indication, Kristy Berridge is a babe. Plus, she’s funny and clever, writes paranormal fantasy novels, and has that slightly exotic factor of being from Australia. For a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal geek like me, that’s quite a package. We’re talking Wonder Woman status. Definitely crush material.

   But she’s not Jackie.

   When I choose to look back over my long list of regrets (not a recommended activity), Jackie is at the top. We met in the 4th grade, I think, and I liked her instantly. I demonstrated my affection in all the ways young boys with no social skills do. I sat near her whenever the teachers would allow. I poked her with my pencil. I pulled her hair. I hid her books from her. I pestered her incessantly until she begged me to leave her alone.
   I didn’t.
   I couldn’t.

   If Jackie ever went through that awkward phase of growth most teenagers go through I don’t remember. By the time I realized I liked her that way she had grown into a graceful young woman. She was poised and she was genuine. She never played any of those head games the other girls did. I, on the other hand, was clumsy and out-of-synch throughout my teenage years, especially when I was around her.

   My family moved across town while I was in junior high, and Jackie and I ended up going to separate high schools. We dated a number of times, things like a movie, miniature golf, or bowling, and I took her to my prom, but each time was traumatic for me. It would take me weeks to work up the courage to call and ask her out, and I was always amazed and overjoyed when she said yes. My moments of joy were short-lived, however, because I immediately began to worry about the date and how I would act. By the time date night came around, I’d be a nervous wreck.

   Before picking her up, I’d take an extra lap around her block, then sit in the car nervously rehearsing what to say when she answered the door. In the days before bucket seats, Jackie would scoot close to me while I drove. I don’t know why she did it, whether she wanted to be near me or thought it was dating protocol, but sometimes it helped me get up enough courage to put my arm around her. When I did, I often cold-cocked her with an elbow, smoothie that I was. I’m not kidding, it happened more than twice. Through the years, I’ve had the occasional unpleasant fantasy where Jackie’s cuddling with her lover after a satisfying round of sex. He gently strokes her brow and asks…

   What’s this knot on your forehead?
   Oh, that’s where this dorky guy I went out with in high school kept hitting me with his elbow. The doctor says I’m okay, as long as it doesn’t happen again.
   (Shudder) It’s not one of my favorite daydreams.

   I think we went out twice the summer we graduated from high school. I remember getting  drunk one weekend my freshman year in college and calling her. She told me she was seeing someone. I gave up after that. Our paths never crossed again.

   I could never be myself around her. Not that I had a clue what “myself” was at the time, but with other girls I didn’t care so much what they thought of me and so I could be more at ease. Why not with Jackie? I know I felt guilty and embarrassed at how I’d treated her in grade school. I know I was afraid of the vulnerability she’d see if she knew just how deeply she had me in thrall. Mostly I was afraid that if she really got to know me she wouldn’t like what she saw.

   Do we ever get over that first crush?

   For me, the answer is obviously, no. Oh, I moved on a long time ago. More than once since then I’ve been convinced that I’ve found the one in another girl. And if things really happen for a reason, like some folks claim, then it’s probably for the best we weren’t together. Most likely I would have dragged her along the self-destructive path down which I’d already started. She deserved better, and I hope she got it.

   But I’ll never be over her. She’ll continue to sneak into a random thought, or a daydream, or be reincarnated in a smile in the photograph of another pretty woman on the other side of the world.

   But, I digress. Y’all should read a couple of pretty good books I wrote. Here’s how to get them. Just click on the link for the reading format of your choice:

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook   ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
in Charlotte    Smashwords
 
Until next time, happy reading!

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