Hate Crushes: A Love StoryS

We often get tips that begin "I was reading Cosmo/Glamour/Marie-Claire - at the dentist's" - but really, I actually did read about "hate crushes" in a ladymag at the hairdresser's - and realized I was in the midst of one.

According to this piece, "hate crushes" are all the rage amongst celebrities - I think Twitter was involved. Mine isn't just for one person - it's for a whole collective of enemies. Specifically, the neighbors who live in the house at the end of the block.

They look inoffensive enough: a rag-tag group of 20-something hippies whose numbers seem to ebb and flow with, one presumes, the vagaries of the pot harvest and the quality of the vibes. My ire was first aroused shortly after we moved in. A whole passel of them were lounging - insolently, in retrospect - on their porch, smoking. I greeted them. They collectively ignored me and, I was pretty sure, sneered.

"They were probably stoned," said my boyfriend consolingly, so I decided to give them another chance. Later that same week, I took a cab home from a late dinner. There they were - sneering at me as I alighted. I called out a cheery greeting and, once again, was stonewalled.

"I guess they think I'm a...a pampered bourgeoise, taking cabs," I said to my boyfriend. "I'm sure they'd never sully the environment with a cab - they're probably anti-cars. They despise me, do they? Well, two can play that game."

After that, I pointedly ignored them. At the same time, I became fixated on them. Where did they go, on their army of bikes? What job could possibly call for cut-off overalls? I came up with private names for them: "Snuffkin," "Old One," "Amazing Girl," and "the Guy with Plugs in His Ears." Collectively, they were, of course, The Magic Band. Sometimes at night when I took out the trash, I would wander, seemingly casually, towards their house and stare up at the lighted windows, where I could vaguely make out Indian bedspreads and African drums on the wall. Once, I could have sworn I heard someone playing a djembe.

"They're probably freegans," I said bitterly to my boyfriend, who was sick of talking about them. Sometimes, though, when we walked past their house, he'd indulge me. "You speak hippie," I'd urge. "What are they eating? What are they talking about? What are they listening to?" And he'd say "a casserole, probably involving yams" or "Noam Chomsky" or "Trinity, "Three Piece Suit,""just to placate me.

I had weird fantasies in which we triumphed over them - three-legged races, and cook-offs. I figured they had scorn for my "Zephyr Sophisticate" bicycle with its basket and bell, and the pots of herbs and flowers I'd placed on our steps. (They had what looked like a single stalk of corn and, visible from our back window, a scraggly marijuana plant.) One night they brought out instruments and jammed on the street. Others danced with abandon. One girl - I'm not sure she lived there - did a dance with torches. The neighbors seemed confused, and kept their distance. I wandered over and stood diffidently nearby, in a vintage dress and a pair of heels. Then I went home.

"I talked with those neighbors today," remarked my boyfriend one night. "They're really nice." He went on to detail them - a student, a non-profit worker, a busker, a couple who were transient. He hadn't seen the interior of their house, he said. They'd offered him a beer but he'd said no. He didn't seem to feel this was momentous, and I felt both curiously betrayed and let down. I had known, of course, that he spoke their language - a language of no judgments and playing by ear and smoking weed, a language I had no ear for. I knew equally well that my hard edges would only have beaten against their soft ones, if we ever did meet.

But when our block party came, I made a decision. I brought them a bundt cake. I had thought about this a lot, and this particular recipe, which I'd never made, and which involved instant pistachio pudding and chocolate syrup and was kind of disgusting in a mid-century way, had suggested itself to me as a peace offering. I dusted it with sugar and carried it over with ceremony. I knocked on the door, and finally one of them - the Old One - answered the door. "This cake is for you," I said formally. "Thanks," he said, taking it with the air of one not used to looking gift horses in mouths. "Did you guys just move in?" I stared at him blankly. He was one of the ones who'd snubbed me - once in a group and once while doing something with a saw to his bicycle chain, while wearing a leghorn hat. "No," I said slowly. "We've been here for a year."

"Cool," he said. "We'll hang out some time."

When I looked up "hate crush" I came across an article that claims that

Women, more than men, tend to form hate crushes. Why? Physiologically, women have a deeper limbic system in the brain which makes them feel things more intensely. Also, women are more relationship-oriented as they are the gender who tends and befriends.

It is true, these relationships have much of the unpleasant intensity of a crush, the element of obsession, the need to bring it up at all times - and, most important, next to nothing to do with the object thereof. A "hate crush" is about you, about projections and insecurities. If a crush is about seeing the best version of yourself as you envision it, a "hate crush" is about the worst. I know many a friend - male and female - who's fallen prey to the classic scenario, such feelings about an ex's new partner, something social networking, Twitter and Google help exactly not at all. It becomes a reciprocal relationship - comparing themselves to pictures and interests and resumes and musical tastes. One cliched quote can provide an unwholesome sense of validation, even as it feeds the mania. And as in many a crush, they don't always know you exist.

How To Get Over A Hate Crush [Examiner]