There’s No Love Like Puppy Love

Love and Sex

There’s No Love Like Puppy Love

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza

The first time a cute girl ever smiled at me, I found myself head-over-heels in love.

A smile is all it took. I was in school, enjoying a free period chatting with my desk partner when we made eye contact. Her first instinct was to wave and smile at me. My first instinct was to freeze while clutching at my chest so that my rapidly beating heart wouldn’t fall out. Much like any other 14-year-old, I always longed for a pretty girl to like me.

This was the first time I’d ever felt this way and thanks to Maxy, my only friend in class, I was introduced to that girl. Her name, for the purpose of this tale, will be TT.

Everyday after school, we would meet near the gate and take the longest route back home. TT was my first girlfriend and everything about her seemed to amuse me. The way her hair smelt, that she wore an elastic band around her wrist, the way she said my name, and especially the way she laughed. To me, each passing day was an opportunity to learn something new about her. She liked the colour black, pop music, Chinese food, and her favourite movie was Twilight. For a reason I can’t explain, all these tiny facts about her mattered tremendously to me. Every night we would sneakily call each other and talk until one of us fell asleep. Somehow, we’d still have things to talk about the next day.

Together our love blossomed on the last bench of our classroom. We held hands in the corridor, shared our dabbas during recess, pretended to lose textbooks to sit together, and grew increasingly affectionate. This was the of kind of love driven by impulses, hormones, immature promises, and the constant blip of Norepinephrine when we saw each other.

Our immaturity was the foundation of our relationship. We’d fight tooth and nail over petty matters and later make up with Dairy Milk chocolates and blush-inducing apologies. We often gave each other handwritten notes and tiny gifts to make each other smile, on a whim.

We weren’t caught up in trying to figure out what this relationship meant or where it was headed. Consumed by our infatuation and trivialities, our only difficulties lay in deciding where to eat next, or which movie to watch.

It was all sunshine and rainbows until we wandered into the forbidden forest that is the adult dating world.

In a dance competition for the annual day, TT was paired with another boy. Jealousy took over me and we began to squabble. She wrote me a letter and left a Dairy Milk on my desk. I did not respond to her note – though I kept the Dairy Milk and preserved the wrapper. We stopped talking. The next year, her father got a transfer and she moved cities.

On her last day at school, I gave her a Dairy Milk.

Today, even as I cringe along with my friends as a mushy Dairy Milk ad plays on TV, I smile secretly. It reminds me of the days of simple, carefree romance. Puppy love – as they call it – is amazing because you never overthink your actions. Unburdened by responsibilities and priorities or experience, you’re able to let your emotions run wild and face adversity with love.

Puppy love – as they call it – is amazing because you never overthink your actions. Unburdened by responsibilities and priorities or experience, you’re able to let your emotions run wild and face adversity with love.

Maybe it wasn’t love, but whatever it was it leaves you longing for more in an age when most relationships are easily labelled “complicated”.

To borrow some wisdom from Shrek, adult dating is like an onion – it has many layers, and the deeper you go, the more you will cry. The first layer involves past relationships and emotional baggage that you end up carrying like a lost coolie. The second layer is when you run headfirst into the brick wall that is built with the soul-searching relationship questions we ask ourselves. Why are we dating? What’s the future of this relationship? Do we even love one another? And then there’s the emotional numbness that comes from indulging in one fling after the other.

Having all this rattling around in your brain makes you wonder if you’re doomed to be perennially single, flitting from relationship to relationship.

As a teenager, dating someone is free from all of these complications. You are too young to question your impulses and feelings. All you want is to meet your love and spend forever with them, just laughing and fooling around.

An essay titled “Why Teenage Love Is The Purest, Most Honest Form Of Connection” says, “Teenage love has the ability to be the rawest, most simplified version of love we will ever experience… The younger version of yourself was clear of the barriers we are now navigating as adults in the dating world. So, maybe, being young and dumb and in love was actually the smartest, most honest thing we’ve ever done.”

Today, dating requires more thought than buying a car, what with this problem of having a life to create, personal goals to achieve, and bills to pay. Maybe adult relationships are difficult to maintain, but the sweet, addictive memories of puppy love keep me going. Not every relationship needs to be dissected like a lab specimen from our school days.

All TT and I offered each other was some adoration. While we weren’t exactly Romeo and Juliet, we left each other with great memories. Especially the time where we “broke up” five times on the same day. And made up with Dairy Milks, of course.