Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love

“I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s stupid, and the 14th is just always the worst day of February, even if it has nothing to do with me being single.”

Here’s the thing. It had everything to do with being single. In middle school, when the popular girls started carrying their roses and balloons and teddy bears through the hallways, I wore pink and pretended like the box of chocolates from my mom made me feel loved enough. In high school I received a few tokens but from a lanky, strange boy who sat alone in the cafeteria and solicited giggles when he approached me at my locker. In college I experienced my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend but it came right at the end of the relationship. “If you don’t want to come up for Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to.” “I want to. I think it’ll be good for us.” He showed up at my dorm with a grocery bag filled with candy and Pepperidge Farm cookies; a clear afterthought and a last ditch effort at a failed romance.

This is the year. My year. I’m in love. Seven blissfully happy months in comes the day when most couples hunker down in dimly lit restaurants to sip red wine and spoon feed each other chocolate cake, and the day that I’ve spent 24 times before dismally alone and trying to convince myself that relationships aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

“Valentine’s Day is so lame!” I griped to TC. “Restaurants charge you an arm and a leg for a pre-set menu, they totally screw you out of their real food, and everything is totally overhyped and stupid. Valentine’s Day is SO stupid. Let’s not do anything.” “I totally agree,” he said, of course. “I hate all that fancy, cheesy shit.”

He probably thought he hit the jackpot. A girlfriend who abhors the day as much as any man.

Can I tell you a secret?

I lied.

I want the sappy dinner. I want a card he went to Hallmark and picked out himself because inside it had poorly written lines about love and forever and mush and gush. I want a glass of red wine and a box of Jacques Torres chocolates. I want to be the girl in the office who has beautiful flowers to smile at in between sales reports.

But thus far in our relationship, I have prided myself on not being the girl who needs to be spoiled and doted on and gushed over with materialistic crap. His last girlfriend spent hundreds on her haircuts, thousands on vacations, and made him feel poor and inadequate in the process. “It was all about things,” he told me once. I try so hard not to be her. And I’m not. But part of me wants the things.

He tells me every day that he loves me. He isn’t shy about his feelings, and he never has been. He makes me feel pretty and special and taken care of every single day. He says things like, "At our wedding" and "When we have kids" openly in front of my friends.

So why does a stupid red flower have to show up to prove it? And why do I feel like such a jerk for wanting it?

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