Sometimes when I’m with a group of fellow Side B guys, the conversation turns to our first childhood crush. When my turn comes to share, I legitimately have to think about it. Thing is, it’s hard to classify some of my attachments to other men as “crushes,” per se. Emotional fixation is a more accurate term, I think.

When I “crush” or fixate on a guy, I’m not imagining him as a lover or sex partner. I’m more idealizing him as a close friend or, yes, even a brother. Sometimes sexual feelings are part of the confusing cocktail of emotions, but never completely.

You see, I’m an only child in a small family. In all my classes growing up, I was almost always the only only child. My few cousins were also way older than me.

I had a good childhood, but it was a lonely one. The idea of having a brother held great appeal to me.

My childhood friendship with a kid named Jack puttered out after his parents’ nasty divorce turned him into a completely different person. Our friendship didn’t go as ideally as I’d hoped, and I wonder if I partly gave up on the notion of a best friend as a brother figure. I began to think of alternate realities in which I did have a brother — biologically speaking.

I’ve written about both Jack and Wes, describing Wes as a first childhood crush of sorts. Wes was in my third grade class, and I didn’t pay much attention to him at first.

One day while checking out a book at the library, I noticed the librarian scanning Wes’s ID instead of mine. Then when she started checking out Wes’s books, she started scanning my card. Wes pointed out this error to her, and she actually freaked out a little.

“Wow, oh my goodness, you both look exactly the same! Are you brothers or related?”

We both said no. She had a laugh at herself but seemed to find it really amusing that we looked so similar.

Weirdly, I actually found that mix-up a bit exhilarating. This happened around the release of Disney’s remake of The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. For those who don’t know the plot, it’s a story about twin girls who reunite at a summer camp after having been separated at birth by their divorced parents.

And so the idea entered my 9-year-old mind: what if Wes was my long-lost twin brother? It seemed beautiful to me: a kid my age to be a playmate and confidant, someone to play-wrestle and watch TV with.

I fantasized of the day when my parents would sit me down and tell me Wes really was my long-lost twin brother, somehow separated at birth. A big, beautiful reunification of my lost half.

One day during a grade-level field trip to the local symphony, Wes and I somehow ended up sitting beside each other. I distinctly remember a musical scene from the Billy the Kid ballet, and I just soaked up that moment sitting next to my twin in the darkened theater.

Wes and I were mixed up quite a few more times that year, whether in the library or in class. While I still entertained my fantasy, we never did quite gravitate toward each other as friends. As with most other attempts to make male friends in my life, I had nothing in common with him.

We looked the same on the outside, but we were different people on the inside. A friendship never blossomed between us, and soon enough he became just another face in the crowd of my middle school and high school years.

Unfortunately for Wes, he ended up with a similar fate as my friend Jack. I can only presume he had a rough home life, as years later he adopted the look of a stereotypical druggie. There was regrettably an ugly truth to it.

I was Facebook friends with Wes and noticed his profile pictures showing a guy covered head-to-toe in tattoos, along with a wild explosion of multicolored hair. He looked like Ozzy Osbourne after touring through a malfunctioning paint factory. He even had a big toothy smile tattoo on his left hand, which he held up to his face similarly to Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad.

Ironically, Wes ended up working as a janitor at my church. Goes without saying that he stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the church staff. I didn’t even recognize him at first.

Just like Jack, Wes died of an apparent drug overdose a few years ago. I only found out about it when I saw a bunch of people posting sentimental tributes on his Facebook.

This sounds crude to say, but his death wasn’t a surprise. To take one look at him in his later years, it’s not a shock he had substance issues. It’s sad when I look back at how he was in elementary school and what he ended up becoming. I may never know what issues drove him into that life.

Looking back on my deep emotional attraction and fixation on him, I still hesitate to call it a crush. At least in a traditional sense. I was just a lonely kid who longed for a brother figure, and Wes seemed to be a prospective cure for that emptiness.

I don’t see Wes as a sexual awakening. I never pictured us kissing or anything like that. Perhaps he was just an innocent bro crush.

Thankfully in recent years I have reunited with my “twins in the Spirit,” and I am thankful to God for these brothers — more of a spiritual Parent Trap, if you will. It brings to mind this song from the original 1961 film:

Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah
Why don’t you and I combi-ine
Let’s get together, what do you say
We can have a swingin’ ti-ime
We’d be a cra-a-azy team
Why don’t we ma-a-ake a scene?
Together, oh oh oh oh

Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah
Think of all that we could sha-are
Let’s get together everyday
Every way and everywhere
And though we haven’t got a lot
We could be sharin’ all we’ve got

Oh, I really think you’re swell
Uh-huh, we really ring the bell
Oo-wee, and if you stick with me
Nothing could be greater, say hey alligat-ah!

Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah
Two is twice as nice as one
Let’s get together right away
We’ll be having twice the fun
And you can always count on me
A gruesome twosome we will be
Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah!

Do you remember your first childhood crush? What about that person caused this childhood crush, and did anything happen with that relationship through the years?

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