So, I was talking to my girlfriend the other night, and the subject of man-crushes came up. She claimed that I have them all the time, mostly with respect to sports figures. I said she's confusing a crush, whatever that would mean, with simple admiration. I don't want to move in with Brett Favre. I just think he's a really cool dude who's done things most of us can only dream about. And I kind of resent the fact that if I share my admiration for him with somebody else, they'll think I'm gay or almost gay or gay in spirit. I'm perfectly comfortable with my sexuality, so it doesn't matter to me whether anybody thinks I'm gay. But if they think that, they're missing the point, which is that I simply admire someone who happens to be the same gender as me. And there's nothing wrong with that, right?
An Admirer: No, there's nothing wrong with that, but I think you're the one who's missing the point. A man-crush doesn't just mean you admire someone. It means you ADMIRE someone. You think about him often. You wish you could be his friend. You get a little giddy in his presence, a little weak in the knees. You swoon (in a manly way). In fact, you feel everything you might feel for a woman except sexual attraction. And even there, you may appreciate how sexually attractive he is, you're just not sexually attracted to him yourself. Think Richie Cunningham and the Fonz. Or half the men in this country and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. As for Brett Favre, at least half the men in this state would gladly go gay for him, so he doesn't count. (Brett, I wish I could quit you.) But Brady isn't "admired" only for his accomplishments on the field. Guys like his style, his hair, his dimpled chin.
And, as you say, there's nothing wrong with that. Speaking of Seinfeld, you will recall that, during the course of the series, both Jerry and George developed man-crushes, George on some guy Elaine was dating, Jerry on Mets star Keith Hernandez, who also dated Elaine, sending Jerry into a man-crush tizzy. What were they feeling? Well, it's complicated. Hence, the definition of "man-crush" you'll find at urbandictionary.com: "the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males." And I'm not sure it can be explained any more precisely than that. Some people have proposed that man-crushes have to do with wanting to trade lives with the subject of the man-crush - the "women want to do him, men want to be him" theory. But I think it's more...complicated than that. You don't just want to be him, you want to be near him, just not in bed with him.
Notice that the definition says "shared by two men." I don't think mutuality is required. You can have a one-way man-crush from afar. But when the crush is mutual and reciprocated, well, it's a beautiful thing. And when the mutual crush matures over time, it turns into what we call a bromance, a passionate friendship that has all the earmarks of a marriage except, you know, consummation. Think Joey and Chandler on Friends, J.D. and Turk on Scrubs, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, me and Brett if he would just return my damn phone calls. There's a lot of love to go around, guys, so whether your motto's "I Like Ike" or "Be Like Mike," let your love-light shine. And don't sit around waiting for your man-crush to ask you out on a man-date. Call him up and propose dinner and a movie, followed by a drop-in at a sports bar to check the latest scores. He'll be glad you did.
And so will you.
Had a crushing experience? Write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR EMAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.