No, I”m not going to bore you with yet another column on why Valentine”s Day sucks, as we”ve already been there and done that together (“St. Valentine: Capitalist or just plain evil? You tell me,” 2/15/99). This is simply an honest-to-goodness look at how romance, relationships and Valentine”s Day change as we get older.
Strange but true fact: I have never in my life been out with someone (and by “someone” I mean someone of the opposite sex) on Valentine”s Day. Why, you ask? Well, I”m not really sure. But let”s take a closer look. Maybe this brings back some memories …
Elementary school. Probably the first time I was ever actually aware that there was some sense of romance attached to the 14th of February. V-Day back then was “totally rad,” as we used to say. Everyone brought little envelopes with Valentines and those annoying little candied hearts with the messages on them and dispersed them anonymously throughout the classroom.
Every year there was one girl who had caught my eye and was secretly rewarded with a large card and an assortment of the big candied hearts. You remember, the ones made by Sweetarts that were the grade-school equivalent of crack? It”s funny how I still remember the names of all those girls, sort of a pre-pubescent version of the modern-day focus girl: Tracy McGrath in 3rd Grade, Ariana Moreno in 4th, Heidi Stark in 5th and Renee Stalter in 6th. Weird.
Junior high. Not as fun as elementary school during V-Day, but not as bad as high school either. Hormones are in full-bloom, but the fact that nobody has a car makes for an interesting situation: For probably the only time my life there was no distinction between going out with someone and “going out” with someone, if you get my drift. You talked, you flirted, you pooled your friends for their vast knowledge of the female gender (pathetic as it was at this early age), and eventually you sucked up your courage and asked the fair maiden those irrevocable words: “Will you go out with me?”
Thankfully, she said yes the first time and my fragile little adolescent ego was spared a disaster of monumental proportions. But V-Day just wasn”t a big deal. You either had a girlfriend or you didn”t, the only difference being the fact that (after your parents and hers had first talked to each other) your curfew was extended by two hours. Oh, did I mention the Sweetart hearts? Never underestimate the power they have over a 12-year old, my friends.
High school. The absolute low point in a guy”s V-Day career. As my friend Kevin once put it so eloquently, “Dude, Valentine”s Day sucks the dick of death.” For whatever reason, throughout four years of high school, I never seemed to have a girlfriend during the month of February. Just one of those quirks of fate I guess, but it was torture at the time. And in high school, you could never just ask a girl out on a date during V-Day, because that would imply too much interest and, once the inevitable rumors made the rounds, you were tagged as a soft, sentimental guy. You know, a “nice” guy the kind of guy that all the cute, popular girls avoided like the plague.
Adulthood. For me, the first years after graduation were spent in the Army and again, through a strange twist, come V-Day, I always seemed to be out on maneuvers. Don”t get me wrong, I enjoy crawling around in the tropical mud of disease-infested Third World countries as much as the next guy, but there”s definitely a level of coincidence here that borders on the absurd.
Then came college. I figured that once I entered the hallowed halls of the University I would never again be dateless on V-Day. After all, with 17,000 women in attendance, it should be easy to find one that would say yes. But then my old friend Mr. Murphy (of Murphy”s Law fame) intervened once again and has managed to schedule me for work on V-Day three years running. Not that it”s really a big deal anymore. You see my friends, there is a great equalizer for the dateless on V-Day and it”s called “The Bar.”
A good friend of mine pointed out to me a few years back that an inordinate number of girls got dumped every year on V-Day (and who says God doesn”t have a sense of irony?). He reasoned that a large portion of these dumpees would grab their dateless friends and venture down to the local watering hole in an effort to drown their collective misery over a large quantity of adult beverages. He further reasoned that the defenses of said dumpees would be down and, once properly identified, would be easy pickins” for a sexy biyatch (his phrase not mine) like himself. Now let me tell you that personally, I have no empirical evidence on this subject, but from what I saw, he was right on the money.
So go out tonight and have some fun, with or without a date. Me? I”ll be at work.
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