Most people remember when they got their first crush – that feeling that there was something special about the opposite (of for some people same) gender and that this person embodied it.
I’ve talked to people who remember their first crush coming in all sorts of ways. It doesn’t always have to be on someone who is flesh and blood. Sometimes it is, of course. I think the best literary description of this is Tom Sawyer seeing Becky Thatcher. It’s about the right tone and the right reaction. I have friends who fell “in love” with someone on the screen. The other day, apropos nothing I remembered the girl in my notoriously difficult eighth grade physics class, who went up to get a test she was afraid of seeing clutching a collector’s card of a character of Space 1999 (Alan Wassname.) Her name has long since disappeared in the mists of my memory, as has her face, but I remember her hand clutching the card behind her back as a talisman, because “he” had protective powers. And I remember we all teased her about her crush.
It is perhaps fitting that I would take this one step further. I first fell in love with a person composed entirely of words – a creature who had no form or shape except what the author could evoke in the reader’s imagination.
Yes, it was Athos, from the Three Musketeers. For years I’ve assumed I was eleven, perhaps because it’s the ideal age for this. Looking back, though, I don’t think so. I was somewhere between eight and ten. (We played at the Three Musketeers in elementary school. By eleven I was at the two year “preparatory school” where I never got anyone to play my games and instead used to walk around the playground daydreaming.)
I remember hiding in grandma’s potato-storage area. (Her house was up the road, so I spent my afternoons there.) I don’t know why, but I suspect I was hiding from my long division homework. If I’d been found out, I’d have been made to do it, as opposed to inventing a very important reason it hadn’t been done, which had served me fine so far, and was much more fun. I had the Three Musketeers with me. I started reading it not expecting much, because lately I’d been going through the “real literature classics” section of the family library and had learned not to expect much. Still, it was printed and it presumably was a story. I got past the whole thing with the horrible-looking horse fairly unmoved, but of course, I wanted to see if D’Artagnan caught the man who stole his letter.
And then… And then the musketeers come in, and are being chewed out, and … And Athos appears. Wounded, in pain, but coming here to save his friends from disgrace.
I think I read that passage five times in a row. I might have worn the ink off the page. The next few weeks were devoted to fervid day dreams where Athos got catapulted into my immediate vicinity through some sort of space time/reality disturbance (thereby probably making me fit only for science fiction.) The dreams never got very far, since my knowledge of love was reduced to what I could see of the people who courted my cousin Natalia – i.e. when you were in love you got to sit on the uncomfortable front room sofas, under the eagle eye of a chaperone, and make stilted small talk. But I knew I liked men – not boys, note. Most boys my age annoyed me – and I knew what did it for me was nobility and intelligence. (And perhaps a tinge of sadness, though I eventually grew out of that. Still, a tragic past is so romantic, provided you don’t have to live with the guy.)
Most first crushes fade, I guess, but this one remained. At first I re-read the book obsessively, eventually adding Twenty Years after, and later the wretched Viscount the Bragelonne (I still think Dumas Jr. wrote it. Either that, or his father had gone soppy in his old age.) I finally weaned myself to one re-read a year. But Athos remained my fictional crush.
Finally, in my thirties, I realized I was now a writer and I had the power to invoke him at will and spend however much time I wanted with him. About that time, my editor at Prime Crime asked if I wanted to do an historical mystery.
The result was the musketeers mysteries, written as Sarah D’Almeida. The first one, Death Of A Musketeer, has now reverted to me. I’ve made a deal for its publication with Naked Reader Press. I’m not sure of the exact publication date yet, but I think it’s February.
Give it a try, if you haven’t yet, or even if you have but would like an e-copy. It’s non-DRMed, so it will last you through changes of devices. And if this sells well enough for me to think it’s worth my trouble, I’ll be happy to write book six, and seven, and…
The continuation of the series is in your hands. Not to mention the enabling of my crush.