I spotted an up and coming musician a few years ago at a prominent music festival, and within minutes of casting my eyes upon his slender frame, nerdy-chic wardrobe, and witnessing his lyrical genius, I melted into one smitten kitten. Seriously, I practically purred when he came on stage and felt like licking myself from excitement (over sharing?). He was exactly my type. I knew it was game-over for me. So I allowed myself to fall head-over-heels from across a crowded sea of intoxicated hipsters and spent the rest of my summer daydreaming of the day we’d snuggle up with a bottle of wine and Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs. He’d be the Seth Cohen to my Summer.
As with all celebrity crushes, I enjoyed the fantasy, but the rational part of my brain understood that’s all it was. Our date nights included watching his interviews on YouTube and pretending any song with the smallest suggestion of romance was written for me. Sure, he’d never wrap his wiry arms around my waist. I’d never taste salty drops of sweat when my lips traced the outline of his body. I wasn’t going to wake up early one morning, sneak out of bed, and prepare him the Eastman special for breakfast (eggs and grapefruit with cinnamon; I’m a culinary genius). It wasn’t the most satisfying of relationships, but I was content, nonetheless. I never expected anything more.
Until one night, I went to his concert.
He was about to play his last song, and in perfect rhythm to my pounding heart, he announced he’d be sticking around after to meet whoever wanted to say hi. My tongue suddenly felt like it pulled a Grinch and grew three sizes bigger, causing the cranial nerves responsible for swallowing to temporarily shut down.
This was it. This was my chance to turn this schoolgirl infatuation, scribble-his-name-on-my-notebook, delusion into something actually real. I pulled myself together (and might have ordered a shot while the bar at the venue was still open), waited in line, and tried to come up with the perfect thing to say. Do not be creepy. Do not be creepy. Do not be creepy.
As the person in front of me said goodbye, his eyes met mine and the palpitations in my chest were so powerful, I was a little concerned that I might be going into cardiac arrest.
I introduced myself, complimented him on the show, and then, by the grace of God, somehow nonchalantly asked him out for drinks sometime. He smiled, laughed somewhat nervously (either because he found me attractive or a potential stalker), and said, “I might take you up on that. I’ll be back in town in June.” And then gave me his phone number. I was beyond Cloud Nine, I was orbiting Jupiter, or Neptune, or just prancing around a Black Hole, too drunk on joy to even give a shit if I got lost in it. This was a bliss I hadn’t experienced before, and I was in love with the sheer warmth of it.
Fast forward to June, and we had settled on a time and place. I was about to embark on something beautiful. Two souls meeting, connecting, and potentially interlocking in a way that only seemed possible in cinema. It might even be raining and somehow he’d be upside down and I’d get my Spiderman kiss. I’d wear a red dress that miraculously made my almost A cups look overflowing. He’d stop, breathless. “You look…” I’d stop him.
“You had me at ‘You look’.”
I was ready for this fairytale to begin.
But turns out, this wasn’t a fairytale. This was life, and not written by Nora Ephron. I tripped walking towards him, and it didn’t make me endearing. It was just awkward and nothing I had written in my diary. It was a let-down.
It’s not as if he was rude or inappropriate. He didn’t ask me if I wanted to have sex in the bathroom (which has happened before – the asking, not the sex.). He smelled nice and opened the door for me. We made pleasant conversation. He told me about an upcoming camping trip. I told him about my fascination with sharks.
But it wasn’t what I pictured. This was not the fantasy I spent years crafting. We just didn’t click. In fact, he barely maintained eye contact with me throughout the night. I thought he’d be doubled over in laughter from my various anecdotes. I thought I’d feel butterflies when his hand brushed against mine. I thought I liked him. I was positive I liked him.
But truth be told, I didn’t know him. As much as I convinced myself of the opposite, he was a complete stranger. A stranger that I had built up so much in my head that there was almost no way the real life version could compare. I had fallen for someone that existed solely in my imagination, just with his face slapped on top.
Putting people on pedestals, whether they’re celebrities or not, creates dangerous expectations that very often lead to disappointment, regret, and too much Ben and Jerry’s. For all I know, there could have been something there had I not already decided the person he was before getting to know him. Under different circumstances, we could have really been something. Actually, no, I don’t think so. It just won’t work if you don’t at least giggle at my jokes.
Always be careful in dreamland. Imaginations are powerful, wonderful gifts, until it’s all you have holding you at night.