Today is Thursday. That means nothing to you. But to me, it means I woke up smiling because every Thursday, I walk 13 blocks to visit my current crush. He works in the mobile falafel food truck which parks in my neighborhood once a week. In Hinduism, there’s a devotional act called Puja (and pardon me if I am getting this wrong, I learned about it in college so it’s been a while) where one shows reverence to the divine by lavishing worship on a object or representation of a deity. I’m not a religious girl, but I conduct my crushes with an air of spiritual devotion. I seek out men who edify some need in me. It’s not about physical beauty, although sometimes that’s involved. It’s not like I actually want to date them. A crush, for me, is not about sex or love. It’s about basking in the glory of the best masculinity has to offer. It’s about having a reason to walk 13 blocks in the rain to get a falafel, and feeling uplifted for having done so. After the jump, I pay homage to my biggest crushes of all time.
Security Guard at Makeup Plus.
The summer after my freshman year of college I got a job selling makeup at this now defunct chain called Cosmetics Plus. It was pre-Sephora. Originally, I was working at the downtown location, but I shilled eyeshadow so well that they transferred me to the Madison Avenue location. That’s where I met Luis. He was the security guard there. He was probably eight years older than me, and not even remotely my type. I was into tattooed bad boys and he was clean cut and muscular. I fell for him because every night, as we locked up the store, Luis would say, “Get home safe.” Sometimes he would watch me walk to subway. Those were the only words we exchanged. But each time he said them, my heart would beat fast. It was my first summer away from my family and I felt terribly alone. As far as I knew, Luis was the only person in the city who cared about my safety. And that touched me enough to have racy dreams about him.
In my early 20s, I worked at a New Age jewelry and gift shop in a hip neighborhood in Los Angeles. I was pursuing my acting career at the time, but didn’t want to wait tables or tend bar, and this store, located near a bunch of bars and restaurants, was open late. I knew I wanted to quit acting, but had no idea what else I could possibly do with my life. So, I spent my nights at this store, burning sage and trying on gemstone jewelry, talking to the interesting customers, and hoping I would magically just figure my shit out. There was one customer, I never knew his name, but he came in to buy incense about once a week. Every time he visited, he wore double denim, sometimes triple denim. This is cool now, but in the early 2000s, mixing denims was ridiculed. His costume was jeans, a chambray button down and jean jacket if it was cold out. None of his denims matched. Ever. What I liked about him was that, in a city that judged everyone superficially, he didn’t give a shit — about what his outfit looked like or if he was spotted buying incense in a girly store. And he was so hot for that. I knew I needed to apply more of that to whatever it was that I did next in my life. Double Denim became my “don’t-give-a-shit” inspiration.
When I eventually quit acting and landed a job as a teacher, the only ME time I had was at the gym and I protected it fiercely. It was during this time that I began crushing on my spinning instructor, Marcel. Every Saturday morning at 10:15 a.m., I attended this guy’s spinning class. I spent 14 hours a day pretending like I knew what I was doing, instructing hundreds of teenagers. I didn’t know shit. And I was grateful to Marcel for giving me the gift of that hour every Saturday where someone else was the expert, where someone else would tell me what to do. Also … his body. And mine by the end of the year.
Check Out Boy at Trader Joe’s.
In my late 20s I moved into my own apartment. It was my first time living on my own. Having just gone through back-to-back breakups, I was deep in the throes of heartbreak. I lived right near a Trader Joe’s, so I dealt with my pain by grocery shopping a lot. There was this one guy who worked at the check out. The TJ’s crew is known for their exceptional customer service, but this guy went above and beyond. I am terrible at picking produce. I’m absent-minded and like to shop quickly, so it’s not unlike me to pick up a batch of rotten tomatoes. My two exes used to shop with me to make sure I didn’t put moldy cheese in my basket. Now they were gone — but the check out guy was there. He remembered me, and the foods I liked. As he rang my groceries, he checked to make sure my produce was good. He looked at the expiration dates on my perishables. One time, he slipped a wilting rose into my shopping bag. When I unpacked my groceries, I cried. It was so nice. From then on, I always made sure I was in his line.