It’s not every day that a flower delivery guy almost throws a bouquet of roses at you, I thought to myself the day before yesterday. He had harassed me all day, calling like a maniac in order to find out when exactly I’d be home, so he could bring me the flowers – a Valentine’s Day bouquet which for some inexplicable reason they had decided to deliver a couple of days early. As soon as I closed the door in the face of the man who was still expecting a tip in spite of his rudeness and almost offensive words, I got to enjoy the beautiful roses – in spite of the commercial fuck up, they were still the symbol of a loving gesture, from a person so dear to me. I have long ago made my peace with the holiday dreaded by many, but I can’t deny that the incident brought back bittersweet memories of Valentine’s Days past.
I was thirteen or so when I survived the first “celebration” of the sort. The rumour had spread among my classmates, the boys were up to something and all of us, girls, spent the week before V Day waiting to find out what they were going to do. Nothing outrageous, as it turned out, but still terribly exciting for the time being – some of us got flowers and cards from the boys who liked us and we got asked out on dates. So when my best friend suggested we go out with our classmates without actually saying yes to any of the boys, I breathed a sigh of relief. That meant she wasn’t going to say yes to the boy I liked, who was going to ask her out. Or so I thought, because as we arrived at the meeting place, he headed towards her, holding a rose that had clearly seen better days, looking slightly puzzled by my presence. Sorry I lied, but you wouldn’t have come with me if I had told you; and you know I couldn’t go on a real date with him, but I couldn’t just say no either, she whispered in my ear as he was uttering a shy hello. Well, it made more sense back then – you see, the boy in question was part of our close group of friends and even if my bestie didn’t like him, she figured refusing to go on a date with him would translate into them not wanting to be friends with us anymore; besides, she had no idea that I had a crush on him. I had naïvely hoped he would come to his senses and ask me out, even if I knew who he actually liked. So I brutally refused the other two boys who had asked me to be their date on Valentine’s Day for no other reason than that they weren’t the one I had my mind/heart/hormones set on.
Don’t ever let them know what you feel, don’t ever let them see that you’re suffering, that they hurt you, my mother’s words come to my mind. So with a deep breath and a large smile I started acting my little ass off, pretending I actually wanted to be there and didn’t care about anything or anyone. Our group was smaller than we initially intended it to be, but, luckily, I wasn’t the only dateless wonder. So it couldn’t get much worse, I thought to myself, as soon as the happy couple was done exchanging a few private words. Wrong again, I would immediately find out during a quick gossip session in the lady’s room; he had asked her to be his girlfriend, her need to be liked had kicked in again and she couldn’t refuse him. Yet she wasn’t going to act on it and since I wouldn’t provide her with a good excuse to leave early, she spent the entire evening – and then the following week – trying to avoid him. As we were all walking her to the bus stop, he finally got closer to her and found the right moment to attempt a good night kiss… in the middle of which she broke free from his hug and jumped into the bus that had just arrived, although it wasn’t the one she was waiting for. Yes, we all noticed that minor detail, and it did feel good to see him sad both because of her rejection and of the other boys’ jokes.
As my first experience… or perhaps I should say experiment in celebrating love finally came to an end, I could finally hide in my room and draw all the sordid conclusions. ”Never again” was the first one, and by that I certainly didn’t mean never celebrate the holiday. More than anything, it was a promise to myself, that I wouldn’t sit and wait quietly for a guy to notice me when and if he felt like it; nor would I waste my time pining over boys who didn’t care about me. Moreover, once the anger subsided, I had to admit that my being there to witness the entire drama unfold was actually a good thing; that way I was left with a realistic view on the events of the evening, instead a romanticized, much more painful, image I would have otherwise built in my mind.
Well, that was their only date, their only kiss and all her avoidance manoeuvres made for some ridiculous, yet very funny situations. Between her frequent disappearance acts and my suddenly strange behaviour generated by my bruised ego, the poor guy was baffled by what was going on with his friends. Determined not to become the messenger between the two halves of the “happy” couple, I was acting out, engaging in harmless fun of my own, trying to choose between two guys, in spite of not being interested in either of them. As one of them (the charismatic bad boy all the girls wanted) was getting a bit too flirty with me, I could see said poor guy observing me in a strange, disappointed fashion. He later told me I deserved better than that jerk; I replied he wasn’t the one to talk and left him thinking no good deed ever goes unpunished. Everything went back to normal within a week or so, as he finally got the hint and gave up on following her around and I stopped feigning interest in irrelevant people. We got over our crushes and we were all friends again, just like before the shit romance had hit the fan on Valentine’s Day… Ironically enough, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, considering that he is now my oldest and closest friend.
From early on I suspected that not having a date is by far not the worst thing that could happen to a girl on Valentine’s Day. As the years went by, I became convinced of it. Yes, ladies, when a man you barely started dating shows up wearing not much else than a red thong, revealing thus his idea of romance, you wish you had no date. And when a man brings his mommy along for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner because she was feeling lonely that evening, you know you must draw the line and boundaries must be set for this particular day of the year. Since I never had an issue with being single or dateless in the middle of February, I made a decision several years ago: no more dates with people I don’t know well or care about on Valentine’s Day. After all, shouldn’t this day be a reminder to celebrate people we love?… As far as I am concerned, that’s not a feeling limited to the person I’m in a relationship with, and some of my best Valentine’s Days were spent with close friends, regardless of whether I was or wasn’t in a relationship at the time. And let’s not forget one undeniable fact – dating somebody doesn’t necessarily mean loving them, nor does it guarantee the death of loneliness…
So this year it was just me, myself and my roses for Valentine’s Day… and maybe a glass of wine at the end of a relaxing, quiet day of pampering :-) . Distance and timing may have gotten in the way of spending the day with a certain someone, but that’s not really as big a tragedy as some make it out to be… because I know that I’m loved and appreciated for more than just one day a year!