It was mid-spring last year and I was at my parents’ house with a pad of sketching paper and a bold marker pen. On the other side of the table was my sister – our erstwhile maid of honour – with a handwritten list of questions.
“It’s very simple,” she had explained. “I’ve got a list of questions here about them. You write down what your answer would be. Since they’re about to be your wife, you should know them all.”
“Why don’t you just ask them?” I had queried.
“Because it’s a quiz,” she had replied. “I don’t know the answers and neither do any of the bridesmaids. We all give an answer, and so do you, and then they tell us what the real answer would be.”
“But I’m not going to be at the hen party.”
“That’s why you write your answers down. I’ll take pictures of each.”
“You are a very strange person; did you know that?”
And so we had begun. What seemed like a daunting task at first was turning out to be quite fun. As it turned out, I knew a lot off the top of my head – favourite food, favourite film, favourite book – and some I could confidently guess. We decided to skip the question about the first thing they did in the morning since my answer was “cry”.
The next question threw me.
“Who’s their celebrity crush?”
A milieu of names flew through my head. Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Mads Mikkelsen, and Jason Statham. And that’s just the men. Having a queer pansexual enby for a fiancée meant that they could fancy basically anyone of any gender. And I don’t deal too well with that.
What’s the point?
I appear to be totally immune to celebrity crushes. I’ve never even had one. There are, of course, people who are attractive; none of them I’d ever have a chance with. They are either too young (Greta Thunberg), too attractive (Rita Ora), fictional (Remi Himekawa), hella problematic (Rachel Riley), or all four (Hermione Granger).
But I can’t, hand on heart, say I’ve ever actually been attracted to anyone famous. I grew up around famous people (having an actor dad makes this happen), with Kiera being a childhood friend and Paul Whitehouse wandering around my mum’s piano teacher’s house, signing things for me at random. My crushes at school were all on civilians – people in my year who I was still never going to get.
I never saw the point in fancying someone famous. Nothing’s ever going to happen between you two anyway, and I saw how dangerous obsession could be, girls wasting away thinking of nothing but Mark Owen and boys putting down Britney as their main interest in life.
It didn’t affect me, and while unrequited love was fairly traumatic, at least that was realistic.
Celebrity crushes hurt
And then there’s the other thing.
Celebrity crushes have made it very difficult to trust anyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with. I don’t do ‘compersion’ particularly well, and even then it hasn’t been intentional. Couple that with my crippling self-doubt and tendency towards self-destruction as a coping mechanism, and you get a few reasons why I felt that way.
I remember my first girlfriend hollering at squashy-faced Sum41 frontman Deryck Whibley to fuck her and then ignoring me crying afterwards. My second girlfriend being openly sexual about comedian Jon Richardson, and how much sex she wanted to have with him, failing to notice the fork I was jabbing myself in the thigh with. I even still have the scars from all the self-harming I did throughout my late teens: one for every time she cheated, one for every celebrity crush she had.
Unlovable as I’ve always believed myself to be, I’ve gone through every relationship with the constant fear that they are going to end given any viable alternative. One word from [insert random celebrity here] and they would be out the door. I didn’t have a job, a car, a house, or the fame, so I clearly didn’t compare. Any interest from [insert random celebrity here] and I wouldn’t even be a factor any more. They’d be gone.
So how did I answer the question?
“They… they don’t have one,” I lied (at least, I think it was a lie). “We… we don’t talk about it. I don’t have one…”
“Well, you don’t do them, do you?”
“No, not at all. Can we skip this one?”
My sister gave me a Knowing Look™ and kindly skipped to the next question.
“Okay. If they were to have a dinner party, who would be all the guests?”
And I already had a list in my head.
I didn’t sleep easily that night.