Today, I “liked” his post on Facebook. I even commented on his previous post about how beautiful, mysterious and poetic trees are. I wonder where I pull such guts. Or maybe I get accustomed to being thick-faced. He will not notice me, of that I’m sure. For him, I’m a nameless fan, so my obsession can be safely carried out without hesitation.
We first met when I was in Grade 5. It was our Journalism Week, and I represented my school in an essay-writing contest. He, too, was his school’s frontrunner in the writing category. He was a senior, and at 12 or 13, he was already eye candy. Though skinny and dark, with untamed long hair, he had beautiful black eyes that bespoke longing.
Every time I stole a look at him, he’d glance my way with disinterest and boredom. And because I had never been the pretty face, he’d look past me despite the proximity of our chairs. I contented myself photographing his back in my memory.
I won first place in that essay contest; he won second. He looked at me, lips smiling, eyes twinkling. It could’ve been a trick of the light, but I’ve kept that picture in my childhood heart.
I transferred school when I was in Grade 6. He was a high school freshman. I hadn’t seen him or heard any news about him then, but every time my girl friends and I bragged about school crushes, he was my Superman. We sat under an acacia tree, giggling, playing “Flames” with our names. We wrote the beloved’s name on white paper and tucked it under our pillow at night. He has a unique name, and I had the bravado to pen it on my soles using a permanent marker, for my horrified father to see. I got a good spanking, and after that I became very careful about boy talk and stuff.
I graduated from grade school with a list of crushes: him with dimples who smelled of vanilla; him who aced the math tests; him who played sepak takraw and volleyball; him who wore a neat uniform and had well-groomed hair. There were many of them, but unlike my Superman with a unique name, they were but an adrenaline rush. I had to lie to my girl friends that I fancied those popular idiots, or I’d be counted among the unfeeling, unpopular weirdos.
For my secondary education, I went to a private Catholic school in the next town. I was carefree and very curious. I was introduced to the internet, cell phones, and most especially romance pocketbooks. I shyly learned that the intimacy between a girl and a boy doesn’t end with kisses; that a man and a woman has to become one in body in order to procreate; and that a mixture of saliva won’t serve as a petri dish for the egg to be fertilized by sperm. Bless my school for emphasizing education and good values. Despite my burning desire to experience teenage idiosyncrasies, I was chained to sanity and the fear of unwanted pregnancy.
High school life offered a wide selection of “him.” Modified, masculine, and with modulated voices, they carried charm like a torch. I giggled, did the “Flames” game, and wrote love letters. Fortunately, no one bit at my bait.
A year passed. I was late for the flag ceremony and opening prayer for school year 2002. I got in the queue, hyperventilating. When the flag had been raised, I noticed the familiar back that I adored when I was younger. The hair was cut short but it was black as a raven’s, and when he turned around my heart skipped a beat: my Superman. Some pounds made him look tougher, he was taller, and most of all that signature look had become a lady killer.
A transferee to our school, he became an instant campus crush. Aside from the good looks and the sex appeal, my Superman was smart. He played guitar and drums; his voice was very good. He was a fluent speaker, a friendly senior, and a topnotch CAT officer. Girls and gays, even preschoolers, adored him. I sighed helplessly at his growing fandom. He formed a band, and when he and his friends had gigs during school events, I happily feasted on his splendor on the stage 10 feet away. I didn’t scream like his legion of followers, but my ribcage hurt from suppressing a powerful shout of support for him. I contented myself in drowning in the abyss of his mystical eyes, feeling his callused fingers as he strummed his guitar.
It didn’t take long for a heartthrob like him to have the girl he wanted. It was in the middle of the school year that I saw him walking on the corridor with the campus sweetheart, who was popular not only for her good looks but also for her good breeding, intelligence, and sassy attitude. It broke my heart to see him laughing with her while toting her bag and books. How do you compete with your role model? How do you hate your senior whom you regard as an inspirational figure? Resignedly, I diverted my attention to romance pocketbooks, and the male leads in those novels ended up looking like my Superman in my imagination.
They graduated ahead of us. I lost interest, or rather, I was too depressed to check on his life when their relationship was as good as husband and wife. Still, shock was an understatement when a former classmate told me that “she” was pregnant. Immediately I thought of him as the happy culprit. But no, my friend insisted, he was not the father. From that moment, the sun shone brighter. Strange: It was like the stars were glowing brilliantly, with their inner explosion of jubilation.
I added him as a friend in my Facebook account. I giggled when he accepted my request. He is the same Superman I remember from when I was a lanky 11-year-old. He wears his hair a little longer now. The eyes are as naughty, but gone is the childish longing in them: They look fierce, experienced and deep, as though holding many untold stories. His bronzed skin is beautiful, with scars from his mountain climbing and hiking adventures. It looks good to touch. He has chiseled arms and very robust thighs, and wondering how it feels to be enveloped by him leaves me breathless. The sexiest part of him is his boyish smile; somehow that child I admired many years back is still visible in the macho man I am following on FB.
While he has a soccer team and an ex-girlfriend in his CV, I have had no boyfriend since birth. People call it a disability. I call it chastity and pride.
I religiously follow my Superman’s affairs in the internet, mostly his advocacy for the preservation of Mother Earth and his exciting experiences on every mountain he has conquered. I “like” most of them, not because he has been my crush for the longest time but because he is a good man with a positive outlook on life. I don’t know if he has noticed me. Or if, like me, he has imagined us together in a happy place. He’s there and I’m here, thousands of miles apart. He’s single, I’m available. I can try and shoot an arrow like Cupid’s. I can rebel against my norms and redirect my destiny. But will the world be in harmony with my selfish desire? Is he worth defying my homegrown belief of what is right, what is decent and natural?
No. Not yet. I believe I’m better off as a nameless fan. My infatuation is constant, unrequited and one-sided, but my pride as a woman will never let me humiliate myself. As far as I’m concerned, I’m exceptionally beautiful. The world has a superhero destined for me. I will wait for him—the right man, at the right time.
Rachel Ann Biclar Pedroso, 28, is a labor and delivery nurse at Almana General Hospital in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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