Illustration by Maxine Crump.

Illustration by Maxine Crump.

Crushing on my crushes, googling their images and mentally replacing their significant others with myself in their pictures is one of my favourite ways to daydream. I fantasize until I fall asleep and enjoy the unfolding of my movie life. The dream usually starts with me hopping on a plane and studying in New York, and ends with phone conversations with my friends about my new life with my sexy, activist bae, Jesse Williams: “I bumped into him while I was grocery shopping one day and now we’re happily married, girl! Life is great!” I’d always wondered about how my crushes met their partners: Was it really as easy as a chance meeting in the cereal aisle? I’d cross my fingers, hoping—but not too hard—that it would happen for me one day.

Friday night. I was rushing to get to the club for my birthday get-together with two friends, when a quick glance over the crowd outside the bar to my left revealed a few of my boys with THE OBJECT OF ALL MY AFFECTION. Not only was my celebrity crush (no, NOT Jesse Williams aka “Jackson Avery”) the biggest deal in the entertainment industry at the time, he also seemed to be engaged in a conversation with MY guy friends whom I, coincidentally, was walking toward, to deliver looooong, drawn out greetings in my This Is How I Will Look When I Meet Him outfit. I was winning: I had always imagined wearing the headwrap, crisp white shirt, and printed pants combo that I had on when I met my crush, and that’s exactly how it happened. The universe must have been paying attention.

While I hugged my friend T, The Crush stood next to him and from the corner of my eye, I could see his jaw hanging open, literally, he’s expressive like that. I turned to him, smiling warmly while introducing myself. “Sawubona. Igama lami ngu’Lebohang.”* I held out my hand. He smiled big and wide, “Mm! It is good to meet you!” He said he’d been urging T to introduce us ever since he saw me. Having rehearsed our meeting in my mind a million times was serving me well because I was all “nonchalant, soft-spoken cute girl” on the outside and, “OMG, HE’S LOOKING AT ME? OMG, HE’S TALKING TO ME?! I CAN’T WAIT TO TELL ALEX!” (my best friend) on the inside. We made small talk about me being an Anthropology major and us living in Joburg yet never having bumped into each other. He nodded intently, “It’s good, ma’am. ’Cause you were too focused to rush for the guestlist!” A compliment that praised me for being a young woman at home and not in the nightclubs, where he was. “Yo, I was telling Z that you know you’re hot! Yeah! I don’t really like that…” I wasn’t sure how to take his words so I laughed them off and tried to appear unbothered, a skill that would come in handy.

Our meet-cute ended with him pulling out his phone. “Look,” he gave the buttons some hard jabs as it remained lifeless, “my phone is dead so I can’t take your number but please, please take my mine. Just text me and I promise I’ll call you as soon as I can.” I obliged while making a mental note to only text him well into the afternoon so as not to seem overeager. We were standing near the DJ booth; the music was so loud we were shouting to hear each other. As said my goodbyes, he held my arm and drew me in close: “All these dudes want you…,” to which I scrunched up my face and pulled back so I could look at him. I was confused, and trying to discern how drunk and high he was at that point. He drew me back in and shouted something so unpleasant in my ear that I was taken aback; I giggled it away from sheer shock. These words of his didn’t fit into my bubble of happiness and nothing was about to spoil this night for me. I left, continued celebrating my birthday, and went to bed thrilled at this unexpected (yet totally anticipated) beginning. It was a good sign that I would finally get to be the girl who gets the guy—the famous guy who everyone wants, and who, more importantly, wants me.

Two days later, a text popped up on my phone. “Dude, from jump I’m gonna come out and say I like you! I want to get to know you!” Yaaaaaaaas! We exchanged many texts, including one sweet, but worrying one: “I love your eyes, the nose ring, and tatts. I love your style. I’m sorry, I can’t date a girl who can’t dress.” I freaked out. “A girl who can’t dress” is exactly who I am, mister! And unashamedly so! By the end of the night and much to my delirious excitement, the l-word was being thrown around, too: “Yes, I do believe that I could date you, like, with the quickness! I’m going to be jealous knowing that I can’t have you. I don’t want anybody getting the love that deserves to be mine. Real talk. I just want you in my life…my love is worth it. I give good love. I only met you once but I miss you already.” Damn!

*“Hello, my name is Lebohang” in isiZulu.