I can already sense this is going to be an embarrassing entry I will probably regret; I do this for you.
When boys begin to come of age and feel that rumbling in their loins—I swear you have not clicked on the wrong in all sense of the world blog, bear with me—as girls stop being gross and start being terrifying, they often become timid around the young ladies their own age who spurn their advances—seriously, you guys were the worst—and find comfort by crushing on figures of womanhood out of their league for whatever reason. Perhaps they’re older, perhaps they’re famous or perhaps they’re even fictional; that’s totally normal, right?
Well, I guess we’re going down this road now, might as well continue, for better or for worse (I originally wrote “far worse” in a revealing Freudian slip).
I thought real girls were cute, but as a comic book fan around the tender age of nine or so, of course no woman could compare to the flawless four color beauties whose adventures I followed (or more accurately they could but wouldn’t talk to me). Since New Warriors was my favorite comic, ergo the lovely aquatic princess Namorita was my first comic book crush.
If you’re looking to shrink my childhood head at all as far as what I was looking for in a woman—or at least an unrealistic and implausible crush—I liked that Nita was bold, outspoken and aggressive with a sharp wit and cutting sense of humor. If she had an opinion, she expressed it with words or fists where Firestar might have held her tongue. Her physical power carried over into an emotional strength that manifested in a deep bond with her cousin, Namor, passionate defense for the environment, and a willingness to stand up and by her friends and teammates without question.
Perhaps it also says something about me that I preferred the girl who wasn’t shy about pursuing what she wanted romantically, but also demanded to be pursued herself in return. Yeah, the love of Namorita’s comic book life happens to be Nova, a character of whom I am somewhat fond, but I swear that’s kinda a coincidence (sorta). When I started reading the book, they would flirt now and again, but it never seemed like it was going anywhere serious. Marvel Boy and Firestar were the alpha couple of the book, the “too cute” made for each other fairytale love story; Night Thrasher and Silhouette were number two because they had an intense history and thus deep bond. Nova and Namorita were just the attractive singles who were never going to settle down with anybody, let alone one another.
But as ever, Fabian Nicieza wrote a great story when it came to Nova and Nita’s romance. They were both too strong to admit they needed each other and both suffered before they could get to a place where that admission came; and then once they did express their true feelings circumstances conspired to keep them apart.
Oh, and speaking of those circumstances, certainly it was mildly—MILDLY—traumatic for me when they decided to transform Namorita into the blue-skinned, web-footed Kymaera, seemingly in an effort to impart on young Ben the lesson that beauty is skin deep, yada yada yada. Hey, the bulk of my childhood crush came from the fact that Namorita was saucy, smart and a bit sarcastic, but I’d be lying if I said the fact that Mark Bagley and Darick Robertson knew how to draw a sexy blond in a green bikini didn’t help.
I’m making it worse; time to bring this home.
As I grew and my interest in comics waxed, waned, and returned stronger than ever, I of course discovered an ability to connect with real girls along the way, and it was eventually time to leave childhood crushes on made-up mermaids behind. Did that young infatuation inform my future relationships? Maybe? I’ve definitely always been drawn to women who speak their mind and generally have a wicked sense of humor. By the same token, I’ve never been seriously involved with a blond or anybody who counts swimming among their most frequent hobbies.
Of course the girl I married had dyed blond hair when I met her and was on her junior high swim team but is now a brunette who rarely goes in the water, perhaps a commentary on my childhood fantasy blossoming into the woman I would fall in love with.
Or maybe my wife is just awesome. Besides, she has her own comic book character.
Hopefully this blog post made you as uncomfortable as it made me.