Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, and I know that makes me seem like Miss Piggy or something. I mean, it sounds like I cannot wait for all the love and accolades and 24-dozen pale-pink roses ALL FOR ME! But really, I’ve just always liked the day, even when I was a kid and no man was giving me play. I like the lace and the pink and the cupids. It’s just a feminine, pretty holiday. Sue me.
And, as luck would have it, from 9th grade until the present, I’ve pretty much always had a man in my life on Valentine’s Day. So even if I didn’t get anything grand, I always had the nice feeling of knowing I could celebrate my holiday with someone I cared about.
Until the year I couldn’t.
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It was 1996, and I had no boyfriend, and my roommate Paula was beside herself with glee: “Now you’ll know what it feels like to be the rest of us, with NO MAN on this most hideous of holidays.” Paula is one of those people who enjoys her the Halloween and the black clothes and the frowning and the Sylvia Plath.
I put on a brave face, emphasizing what I liked about V-Day was just the prettiness of it in general, and seeing women with flowers at their desks, and lacy hearts in store windows and so on. But between you and me, I was a little devastated that my personal desk would be bare that year.
The only good news was that I had a friend named Eric who similarly had no romance as February 14 loomed, so we came up with a stunning plan: We’d give each other a beautiful anti-Valentine’s Day.
I lived in Seattle at the time, and there were bike messengers you could get to deliver stuff for cheap. There was a woman in my office who’d gotten a dozen red roses some weeks prior, and she’d let them die and get all brown and crunchy.
I had the dead roses delivered to Eric.
I also mailed him a Valentine I'd made out of my tampon insertion instructions. I’d just written in red Sharpie over top of the little diagrams. Romantic!
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That night, Eric picked me up and handed me a rubber heart. An anatomically correct rubber heart, with the disgusting ventricles and purple veins and so on. If that weren’t enough to make a woman swoon, he then whisked me off to dinner. At the bowling alley. We split an order of fries as the bowling pins crashed around us and Journey played on the jukebox.
After, we took a lovely drive. “I have a special surprise for you!” Eric said, as we pulled into the dump. We stared at garbage for a good half hour. It was breathtaking.
The whole night, we told each other how hideous we looked, and how much we didn't like each other. We giggled though the whole thing, and fully admired the other’s creativity at being as unromantic as possible.
Finally the evening was over and Eric walked me to the door. “I had a disgusting time,” he said. “Me, too. You’re the worst,” I said as I took leave of that Casanova.
And Valentine’s Day 1996 was over.
I have to tell you, it was one of the most fun Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had.