I am not anti-Valentine’s Day, per se, just studiously cautious.
It all started with my first real boyfriend. We decided to start dating (over the phone) on February 12th. But when we actually saw each other the following afternoon, it was so awkward we couldn’t even kiss. So, the next day—the illustrious February 14th—I was hoping for flowers and candy on my first not-single Valentine’s Day, but all I got was my first break-up. Yup, a broken heart–not a chocolate one–on my first-ever Valentine’s day.
Of course, on February 15th, with the aid of a movie and dim lighting, we finally got over the embarrassment and had ourselves a haltingly inept and self-conscious make-out session. After that, we dated for like four months—which was essentially my longest relationship until senior year of college.
I was never much for dating. Sure, I was curvy and blonde by age 13, but I went to all-girls school, had straight A’s, and a biting, sarcastic tongue. Somehow, I didn’t understand why I might have been a little scary for my opposite-gender peers.
Once I got to college, I smoked and swore and had everyone convinced (even me) that dating “just wasn’t my thing.” I had a pretty good-sized chip on my shoulder, which didn’t get any less chipped over time. (It didn’t help that my standard uniform in college was running shorts, sweatpants, sports bras, and t-shirts.)
But as all good adolescent defense mechanisms should, my hard, cranky exoskeleton came apart slowly as I figured out what real self-esteem was and how to get some. Nowadays, I’m a regular softie—I actually cried over a scholarly article this afternoon. (My 16-year-old self would be disgusted.)
In all honesty, I can’t remember any specific Valentine’s Days. I don’t recall flowers, chocolates, or cards. There were probably some nice dinners, and I might have gotten some jewelry. But, on the whole, I have a habit of being single on the big V-day. And truly, that never bothered me. What bothers me is being in a relationship on February 14th.
I am a big proponent of loving people 365 days of the year. If I do that, do I need to make a big show of it on one particular day? I don’t think so. But who hates nice dinners, candlelight, and affectionate gifts? Not me. Thus, I am not about to get all up in arms about consumerism and greeting card company conspiracy.
So. What are Tony and I doing on Valentine’s Day? We’re going to see the Vagina Monologues. Yup, that’s right, friends—we’re going to see a feminist play about genitalia. (I mentioned it as a joke. He insisted that we go.) Anthony is adamant that it is a play about empowering women, and that it’s unbelievable and in-need-of-immediate-remedy that I have yet to see it. Romantic? Somehow, I think so.
My boyfriend is giving me empowerment for Valentine’s Day. Take that, Hallmark!
(We’re also making these amazing curried mussels.)