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Shannon Bradley-Colleary

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Why I Desire to Be Desired

Posted: 08/01/2012 4:07 pm

My daughter Bridget, who is 8, confessed she has a crush on a boy at summer camp named Jack because he didn't kill her in War Ball today. Also, he has a dent in his chin. I'd hoped my Boy Crazy gene would skip a generation. Alas, it seems my youngest is afflicted.

It began for me in kindergarten when I realized Paul Schlitz wasn't there one day. The next morning I told my mother if Paul Schlitz wasn't in class this morning I had no intention of staying. She should wait at the curb while I checked.

In second grade I had a habit of chasing boys during recess, tackling them onto the grass and kissing them. My parents were called to school and told I must cease and desist. The boys were afraid of me.

In sixth grade, my cohorts Kelly and Viv and I were called on the carpet before our triumvirate of teachers, Mrs. Springer, Mr. Smith and Mr. Watson. We were warned that the fighting with boys during recess was getting out of hand. Kelly and Viv, as one unit, slid down the couch as far away from me as possible, declaring it was me ME who was arm wrestling and fighting boys. Which everyone in the room knew, but didn't say, was my bid for male attention.

Then came the young men of middle school. (Featured HERE) Jerry Valentine had perfectly feathered hair. Steve Bast was admittedly arrogant, but deserved to be (he later became a doctor after being a pro ballplayer). And let us not forget Todd Shermer, my first rabid infatuation, with his dimpled chin and sparkling, blue eyes. We had a particularly sensual kick fight on the blacktop after school in fifth grade. Our arm-wrestle ended in a panting stalemate.

Later, when he moved away to Florida, the entire female 8th grade student body held a wake where they keened, moaned and rent their gym shorts for months, some say even years to come. Many named their firstborns after Todd.

High school held a dearth of men for me. At least the first three years. My younger sister Gina betrayed me by growing breasts, having manageable hair, a magnificent smile and the attention of all the hot seniors. She was a freshman, I was a sophomore. The ignominies! I'm still not completely over that and will occasionally snap her Spanx to remind her of her past cruelties.

In another cruel twist of fate, my friend Viv transformed over the summer before high school into a Latina Janet Jackson circa That's The Way Love Goes. The track and football God, Aaron Molinar, crossed social boundaries to ask her to go steady. Viv and I are still friends today (we've just had our 38th Friend Anniversary) despite the fact that Tony Cinque asked her out, too.

Surprisingly, I maintained my chastity into college, but this says more about my parents than it does about me. Make no mistake, I wanted each crush in a carnal way, even when I didn't know exactly what that entailed.

Even at the age of 5 I desired to be desired.

I'm an 11-years happily married woman with two great kids and I lust for my husband. In fact, the lust seems to be getting stronger, albeit less frequent, as the years go by.

But that desire to be desired by men is still there today. It's my Achilles heel, my Greek hero's tragic flaw.

After giving birth to my second daughter, I was pushing her down the sidewalk in her stroller, still twenty pounds up with an ass literally bringing up the rear, when a group of Latino construction workers whistled at me. I whipped around and cried, "Thank you! Thank you so much!"

I think this desire to be desired is mostly benign. Everyone enjoys feeling attractive. But I watch myself like a hawk, always checking my motivations. I don't want to kid myself about my character flaws and back my way into something stupid.

I'd like to not need the approving male gaze. I'd like to be nobler than that. But I suspect they'll bury my aged corpse one day in a Victoria's Secret Bombshell Push-Up Bra and a thong.

And now, if my ears are to be believed, I've got to start watching my daughter like a hawk, because she's already begun arm wrestling boys. And winning.

Do you need male attention? Has it ever gotten you in trouble? (It did me, once). Do you judge yourself for it? How do you maintain a loving marriage and still get your needs to be the object of desire met? Do you think it's wrong to still want male attention after marriage?

 

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