Friends and professors: the new objects of (mostly platonic) affection

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November 29, 2006

8:37 PM

You know she has class in Tucker Hall every Tuesday from 2 to 3:20 p.m. You’re not a stalker, but maybe it would be totally cool to just hang around the Tucker steps between 3 and 3:30, you know, just to enjoy the breeze and a clove cigarette or two. Nothing suspicious there, except that you don’t smoke clove cigarettes … and there is no breeze.

p. At 3:30, she walks out, pulling her rolling suitcase full of books, chatting to another student. Why is she talking to that guy? That guy sucks! Oh, now she sees you. “Hi. I really enjoyed your last paper.” Did she just say that? To you? Oh my God — your day is made. Nothing could make you happier. Your professor-crush has finally acknowledged you.

p. Yep, she’s a professor. And, no, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the non-romantic crush seems to be popping up everywhere these days. Maybe it’s just a linguistics shift — people like using the word “crush.” It no longer means that you have a romantic interest in the person; it just means you like them more than you like other people. “Crush” and “friend” are nearly synonymous. Or maybe the non-romantic crush signifies a change in attitudes; it’s okay to have bizarre-o quasi-romantic feelings about a variety of people. We’re a very loving little community here at the College; sometimes we just need to spread that love around. Either way, the non-romantic crush seems to be on its way up.

p. People talk about their friend-crushes, man-crushes, girl-crushes and even professor-crushes. These are fun because they’re safe. No one wants to marry these crushes or even sleep with them. This brand of crush not only removes the serious parts — the love, the potential heartbreak, yadda yadda yadda, but also allows people to show a lot of romantic-style interest. People with friend-crushes want to talk to the friend-crush, eat dinner with them and be favored by them over other people, in a (mostly) platonic way.

p. The man-crush and the girl-crush are similar to the general friend-crush, only braver. A guy who admits to having a man-crush admits to, and possibly even revels in, the same-sex attraction factor. The beauty of the man-crush lies in the fact that a burly, hairy, he-man can lovingly sing the praises of another man and remain confident that this tiny, hyphenated term will save him from the teasing of his he-man friends. Just make sure the hyphen is there. You can’t say, “Dude, Marcus is so cool. I totally have a crush on him,” and not expect some light-hearted ribbing from your manly, hairy friends (who, by the way, think that beating people with broomsticks constitutes light-hearted ribbing, so watch out). But you can say, “Dude, Marcus is so cool and smart and he has fabulous fashion sense … I totally have a man-crush on him.” For some reason, asserting your manliness via a hyphenated term automatically means that you are not romantically interested in Marcus (even though he sounds fantastic to me and I recommend you jump on that).

p. The girl-crush follows the same sort of rules. You see a lot of this going on during sorority rush — spawner of the term “rush crush.” Rush crush is cute and it rhymes, but girl-crushes continue long after recruitment ends. And, surprise surprise, even people who are not in sororities can have them. Girls are even allowed to take the platonic crush a little further than their hairy, manly counterparts: They set up “dates,” they cuddle, they watch romantic movies together. It’s all very teen-boy, comic-nerd fantasy (although they do remain fully clothed, and they have no mutant superpowers … that you know of).

p. Perhaps the greatest of all platonic crushes is the professor-crush. Everyone has one. There’s a prime professor-crush candidate in nearly every academic department (even math, I think), and it’s not always the one who has nine chili peppers next to her name on Ratemyprofessor.com. She’s just that one who is funny and smart and reasonable. Your professor-crush is the one that you daydream will one day stand up in front of the class and announce her wish to adopt you or at least to take you on as a personal protege. Your professor-crush could be teaching a class called, “Hey, what’s in my ear today?” and you’d still take it. And like it.

p. You always work extra hard for your professor-crush — not because you actually care about the class, but because you just want that professor to like you. The goal is not to get an “A,” it’s to get invited out to dinner, or, better yet, to the Leafe. Maybe your girl-crush will be there too, and that friend-crush guy from your seminar and you can all drink together into the wee hours. And there is nothing weird or polygamous about that.

p. __Lauren Bell is the Confusion Corner columnist for The Flat Hat. She checks Ratemyprofessor.com frequently to monitor the chili pepper status of her favorite professors.__

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