by Susan Cohen
illustration by Sarah Schmidt
I can’t remember the name of the first boy I ever had a crush on, but I do remember the trauma of witnessing him projectile vomit all over our kindergarten homework assignments. After that, I didn’t like him anymore. I was much more superficial back then.
Corey had a blond bowl haircut and a husky voice for an eight-year-old. And glasses. I had glasses too. He was the one, for second and third grade. Once, I sat across from him at lunch and tried to make small talk. My flirting skills were sub par. For an eight-year-old.
David didn’t go to my elementary school, but we were in the same bus-in gifted program for fourth and fifth grade. I told all of my friends just how much I liked him. Then one day a girl I wasn’t friends with asked me if I liked him. I denied it, and started keeping my mouth shut.
Middle school was hard. Boys were mean. What I felt for them wasn’t so much a crush, but the desire to desire someone, anyone.
I met Bryan (or was it Brian?) in the earliest moments of high school, in the summer school Spanish class immediately before high school. He strolled in at the last possible moment and took the seat in front of me, a year older than me and so much more self-assured. He was really into Slipknot and had major ADD. We spent the whole fake semester playing Rummy and watching Hollywood movies with vague connections to the Spanish language, like Fools Rush In. (It was a six-hour-a-day class, and the teachers were lazy.) He had a pretty, Catholic school girlfriend. When they broke up, he started dating the girl who lived across the street from me.
David was in my freshman year P.E. class but I didn’t really know him until the 11th grade, when we were seated next to each other, alphabetically by last name, in our tiny American History classroom. I resisted falling for him, because my brother’s name is David too. He was tall and wore Against Me! t-shirts and had bad acne under his teenage beard, but he managed to date the homecoming queen. I didn’t stand a chance.
Victor had a beard too, and what a beard. He set a precedent. I liked him senior year, even though we had known each other since the sixth grade. It was the beard, and the tiny blue busted convertible he drove, and the fact that he was taking AP Art History as an online course for the hell of it. He joined the army after our first year at different colleges.
Nick was the first person I crushed who I ever told the truth to. I was 19. It was time to grow up. A girl he liked very much had just rejected him, and I knew I had to tell him how I felt as soon as possible before the next one came along. He picked me up at my dorm on a Saturday and I told him before we left the parking lot. It went nothing like the way I thought it would in my head. He said, “I don’t know,” and that’s what boys say when they do know and they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Then we went to a thrift store. ◥
Susan Cohen decided to leave her career in journalism to go back to school—for journalism. She’s still not sure if she made a mistake. Her website, susanjcohen.com, is poorly updated.
Sarah Schmidt was born and raised in Northern Virginia, taught by the wonderful illustration teachers of Savannah College of Art and Design, and she is currently creating and working out of Austin, Texas.