[Hey, that’s me] One-sided crush
by Guest Beanie
The following is one clichéd sob story that could easily fit into some corny teen romance novel, but it really happened to me. A few years ago, I was watching You’re Beautiful. It was only my second K-drama, and I was not at all prepared for a story about an apprentice nun in a K-pop idol band with eyeliner-wearing bandmates. I watched the first two episodes with my eyes glued to the screen, unable to form any kind of coherent opinion about what I was seeing because the plot and the clothes they wore were so outrageous to me.
It was so distant from my culture and anything that I was familiar with that I could have easily stopped watching it, but instead, I found myself laughing out loud at the gags, and down the rabbit hole I went. It was a totally absurd show, but I found it to be unexpectedly funny and at the same time heart-flutteringly endearing. As it turns out, a huge part of that endearing quality – for me – came from this:
Somewhere near the middle of the series, there was a scene in which poor Go “Mi-nam” (Park Shin-hye’s character) watches Hwang Tae-kyung (Jang Geun-seok’s character) “kissing” an actress (played by UEE) in front of camera flashes of reporters, and thus “revealing” that they are in a relationship. The kiss is fake, there is no relationship. He is only doing it to give the reporters something juicy to write about, and thus stop them from finding out that Go Mi-nam is in fact a girl – but she didn’t know that. She only sees them from a distance in the kissing pose and, since she’s a clueless apprentice nun who doesn’t read between the lines or understand body language, she believes the same thing the reporters do: Hwang Tae-kyung has a girlfriend. She had spent that entire episode wondering why she feels “electricity” whenever she looks at him. When the fake kiss happened, she probably realized the reason for the electricity only in that moment. And she just stands there quietly and watches, her expression exactly the same as when she heard that her mum had died, and finally, tears start rolling down her cheeks.
As a viewer, I knew that he actually cared for her – even though he himself didn’t know it yet – and that in reality there was no reason for her to cry. However, the instant I saw her face in that scene, that expression of utter heartbreak hit me right in the stomach. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes got wet, and it lasted until the scene was over. I was dumbfounded, because seriously – was this really something for me to get so emotional over? But then it dawned on me – of course it was.
The thing was, when I was in my twenties, I had a really bad one-sided crush. And I mean really, really bad – it lasted for seven years straight. As trivial as it may sound, it left me permanently scarred in a sense. Even now, when all of those feelings are arguably long gone, I still feel a cramp or two in my stomach whenever his name pops out in a conversation, and I cannot laugh or talk about it without a lump in my throat.
It was a typical college-era story, the girl with a crush and the guy without it. In less than two months after I first met him, I was already perfectly aware that he wasn’t into me and that there was no way in hell that that would change. I was sad and gloomy, but what could I do? I’ve had one-sided crushes before, and I knew that there was nothing particular to it – I just had to be a bit patient and wait it out.
Except, it didn’t happen. Not this time, and I still don’t know why. I did everything I normally would, I danced, I studied, I worked, I hung out with my friends. I laughed, I travelled, I even lived abroad for a while – I even had new crushes! (Also one-sided, but without making me bawl my eyes out.) But those feelings or whatever they were for that particular individual just wouldn’t go away. They seemed to be stuck in my entrails, wrapped tightly around my gut like some nasty python. That nasty python would make me go silent and sweat in the blink of an eye at the mere mention of his name, not to mention I’d cry myself to sleep at least 5-6 times a month.
It was a pain that was totally confusing and infuriating because it literally made no sense – it was a simple, entirely chemistry-based crush on someone I didn’t even know well – so why was it so painful? And why wouldn’t it stop?
Anyway, that entire lovely experience has left me especially sensitive about similar situations – whether in real life or in an absurd TV show with a doormat of a heroine. Go Mi-nyeo’s face in that scene and in several others in later episodes was a pitch-perfect hyper-realistic portrait of my own face on countless occasions during the past seven years, a mirror reflection of how I felt million times. That girl was in real pain, and my memory of the same kind of pain was terribly vivid – because I will never forget how the “electricity” was making my heart thump like mad, while at the same time my brain knew beyond doubt that it would never happen. All of it would just make my heart sink and my eyes burn, again and again.
Okay, for Go Mi-nyeo it did happen eventually, but I still identified and therefore sympathized with her for the rest of the show, despite the differences between us. All I saw was that she was a girl in love who believed that it was hopeless, and since she couldn’t just make her feelings disappear, she was constantly trying to fight off tears and the lump in her throat, with limited success. And no one knew better than me what that feels like. For a show as surreal as You’re Beautiful was, that was some pretty heavy realism from my point of view.
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- [Hey, that’s me] Pieces of me
- [Hey, that’s me] Me in the trap
- [Hey, that’s me] Scissors and locks
- [Hey, that’s me] The mouse in the sharehouse
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