The 1993 softcore classic Sex and the Single Alien contains a moment of unexpected clarity. On his way to a clandestine tryst with a young lady, our undersexed lawyer/strip club owner is kidnapped by aliens. His travel companion is a gladiator (these are time traveling aliens). One alien asks the other ” Why do they dress this way?” The other alien replies, “It is to impress their women.” Then our hero is granted the superpower of involking orgasms with his mind and returned to earth to wreak vengance on those who have done him wrong. Oh TNT’s up all night with Gilbert Gottfreid, how you are missed.
13-year-old me, whose interest in the movie may have been other than purely ethnographic, may have missed the moment of insight. Just a year earlier I’d endured my first teenage crush, a skinny lad in my 7th grade Intro to Computers class. His name, alas, is lost to posterity. The class was taught in BASIC, the command-line kind, and, being a lady of the world I decided the best way to woo my love was a personalized computer program.
For two weeks I skipped lunches to sit in the poorly-ventilated janitors closet that was the computer lab and wrote my labor of love. It was a fill-in-the-blank affair, a set of questions feeding into a story mad-libs style. The story probably had something to do with asking him to the next dance.
The elderly matron who acted as lab monitor thought it was charming as hell. The object of my affection not so much – when I finally presented him with my completed valentine he gave me a confused look (granted, 7th grade boys wear that a lot). A week later he made fun of my plaid leggings in front of everyone, probably out of self defense, and my digital affair was over.
Oh the music careers launched on the not incorrect premise that ladies dig a dude who can play the guitar, the cartoonists who picked up a pen for the first time on the completely incorrect premise that some dude might be impressed into makeouts… I suspect that puppy love is never about the object of our affection, always about what it inspires us to do. I’m not sure if self betterment is always best invoked in an environment of dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t hurt. I learned to program for the first time in an effort to impress…what’s his name. Thanks skinny dude from 7th grade Intro to Computers, wherever you are.