Five Things to Thank My Childhood Crush For

Childhood crushes are like nothing else. As a college student, it’s easy to long for the days when a boy finding you cute didn’t revolve around him wanting you in his bed… and when that bed was shaped like a bright red racecar, at that.

I had my first crush when I was eight years old; his name was Jeremy. Our moms had befriended each other during a holiday party at our school, and a few days later they decided to introduce us. Jeremy was about three years older than me. I couldn’t help but be enamored by his dark hair and eyes, pet turtles, ability to play guitar and his huge collection of Pokémon cards. “Puppy love,” my mother said. To me, it was straight out of a dream.

Jeremy helped me learn a lot of important things about life, love and video games. Here are just a few things I have to thank him for.

1. Gift shopping for boys can be hard. I learned how to do it in less than 24 hours.

I only knew Jeremy for a few days by the time Hanukkah and his birthday rolled around. As an only child (read: no brothers), I had absolutely no clue how to pick out stuff for a guy. I knew my grandpa liked razors and toolbox kits, but a fourth grader has no use for those. How could I figure out what to get for someone around my age who wasn’t into Powerpuff Girls or Hello Kitty?

Luckily, my mom figured out that Jeremy was really into Yu-Gi-Oh. I knew it was some Japanese TV show featuring a dude with funny-looking hair and a bunch of dragons, but not much else. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to understand much to wander around Target and pick out a box of Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Mom even helped me find a T-shirt to match!

I drew a picture of me and Jeremy with a birthday cake and a menorah, and I showed up to his class the next day with the cards and shirt. And thirteen years later, he still remembers it all.

2. It’s not about whether you win or lose. It’s about who has the coolest-looking set of dragons.

Jeremy tried to teach me how to play with his new set of cards. In Yu-Gi-Oh, the discard pile is known as the “graveyard.” This means that all of my dragons basically ended up dead, and I probably cried. In compensation, Jeremy gave me a page’s worth of cards from his Pokémon binder. My dragons were still dead, but at least I now had a cool Pikachu to brag about.

Honestly, I have Jeremy to thank for my life-long love of Pokémon. I begged my mom to get me a Ruby version game so that I could challenge him in something I could actually win (spoiler alert: I didn’t win, because he used cheat codes). A few months later, when I got stuck behind a boulder puzzle at one point in the storyline, Jeremy told me to catch all of the legendary Pokémon so they could fly me away from all of my problems. This didn’t make any sense to me, because the legendaries weren’t supposed to show up until later in the story. Eventually, I realized I could just Google the answer, and it was a lot simpler than the crazy ideas Jeremy had come up with. The lesson? Don’t believe everything you hear!

3. Virtual pets will come and go, but turtles will have your heart forever.

Jeremy had a pocket Neopet game. The “species” of pet was called Kacheek, and Jeremy’s was named Shadow. I asked my mom to get me the same game so our pets could be friends. Unfortunately, despite feeding and playing with it on a daily basis, my Kacheek ran away on the last day of school. Not the most loyal move, but at least it wasn’t stuck in the dragon graveyard.

Jeremy also had a real pet — a miniature turtle named Snookums. She lived in a little tank with a plastic palm tree. We used to take her out of the tank so that we could hold her and have her wander around Jeremy’s room. Mom told me to always wash my hands after playing with Snookums so I wouldn’t catch salmonella. Snookums never ended up making me sick, but she definitely stole my heart. To this day, whenever I see any kind of turtle, I always think of her.

4. When it comes to date night, never settle.

One night, we went with our moms to get pizza. It was all fun and games until I learned that the restaurant had run out of garlic rolls. According to Jeremy, I “went crazy” and started screaming. While I’m a much better sport during dates nowadays, I hope he learned that a girl’s love of carbs has no bounds.

Our other outings were much better. Jeremy’s dad played guitar at a local café, and we got to sit under string lights and listen to him play. We took black-and-white selfies in a Chuck E. Cheese’s car (though, sadly, I still don’t know whatever happened to those blurry little printouts). We dined on chicken nuggets while watching cartoons. Spending time with him was always a blast!

I don’t think most of us are into Chuck E. Cheese anymore, but sharing pizza, going to concerts and snapping cute pictures always make for great ideas. It’s a shame so many college dudes have stooped down to counting cheap beer at the local frat house as a “date night” – thankfully, Jeremy showed me how to set the standard.

5. Life doesn’t always turn out as planned. But sometimes, it will turn out even better.

After about a year, our mothers got into some arguments and, ultimately, broke off their friendship. Jeremy started running away whenever he saw me on the playground. I told my friends we were playing tag and that I just happened to be terrible at the game, but in reality, I was heartbroken.

Little did I know at the time how beautifully our scars would heal. Today, Jeremy is a student at Florida State University and a Her Campus star. We’re both in incredible relationships, and hope to someday go on a double date. My current boyfriend also loves Pokémon and has a December birthday. Thanks to Jeremy, I’ve been able to treat him well, and I’ve learned to stop screaming whenever my world runs out of garlic rolls.

Because even then, there will still be pizza. And things will turn out for the best.


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