Between the blog-cosmos and e-mail, you know what happens from time to time? You encounter kindred spirits, people who write things so clever or insightful that they seem to be channeling your own thoughts, if only you could write so eloquently. And thus ensues the delicious phenomenon of the intertubes-based intellectual crush.
Come on, 'fess up—you know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you? The intellectual crush may be someone you'd date in real life if you met them, or someone you wouldn't remotely be attracted to, or someone of a sex other than the one you're interested in (e.g., you're both straight people of the same sex, or you're a straight woman and he's a fabulous gay man).
If you like writing and you like reading, and you encounter the writing of someone brilliant and funny, oooh, that's juicy. I'll bet you can think of a couple people right now who fit your personal category of "brainy dreamboats who make you swoon in at least a hypothetical way." I don't know about you, but I'm apt to fall for people who have a ginormous vocabulary of $10 words and are adept at using these words correctly; wit is also essential. I can forgive the occasional typo, but I could never bring myself to have an online crush on anyone who doesn't write well.
The beauty of the internet crush is that on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog—or a man or a woman, or cute or plain, or sitting around in baggy pajamas. Rather, you can be judged on the merits of your mind. This opens the door to intellectual flirtations freed from the confines of reality. Some of you may remember having a straight girl's crush on another girl. (My most memorable one of these was around age 13, when an older girl who was a YWCA youth-group leader was just perfect—I craved her attention and, oh, how I wanted to be her.) I presume boys, as well as grown men and women, can get smitten with role models, too, aside from sexual orientation—I've witnessed a woman swooning over Tertia (and why not?) and a man swooning over Michael Bérubé (who wouldn't?).
And there are no geographic limitations—you can have internet crushes from thousands of miles away. You may have a particular interest in an abstruse topic that fascinates exactly nobody in your circle of friends and family—but online, you can mingle with a slew of like-minded people…some of whom may be eminently crushworthy because of their brainpower.
Most crushes are like chocolate sauce—your dinner is certainly complete without it, but it lends a sweet and intoxicating touch and enriches the experience in a most delicious manner. Sure, it'd be unhealthy to live on a diet of just chocolate sauce. But isn't it fun to cultivate a few intellect-based crushes, enjoy feeling smitten from time to time, and hone your flirting skills via e-mail and blog comments?
(Cross-posted at Bitch Ph.D.)