I really dislike Valentine’s Day.
However, I remember a simpler time when I collected themed cards from my classmates, read the conversation hearts with pride, and basked in the collection of red lollipops. We would spend days at school making mailboxes, into which we would then distribute our cardstock and candy decorations. It was so exciting, creative, and fun.
Then, I entered the real world. The world where Valentine’s Day puts a label on a relationship and strain on a marriage. The world where things are anticipated, assumed, and expected on February 14th.
However, even in the real world, I still didn’t dislike Valentine’s Day. Yet.
I’ve been single, dating, and married on this day; which allots me the confidence and experience necessary to state that I had the most fun the year I was single. My roommate and I, both recently out of relationships, started drinking and walked barefoot into a bar down the street where we proceeded to drink more and play 80’s music on the jukebox until a friend came and picked us up. We also ate fried pickles. Lots of them.
The year my ex and I got married, I will admit, I was expecting something a little over the top. Maybe a hot air balloon ride, or one of those diamond tennis bracelets bitches are always getting on TV. As jobless college students, we had never properly celebrated Valentine’s Day before — usually ending up at a mixer for his fraternity, or something similar. Perhaps I should not have set any expectations at all, but I thought for some reason that he would try to impress me since this was technically our first celebrated Valentine’s Day.
The ex took me out to get hot wings — because there’s nothing sexier than spending half your meal wiping the accumulating wing sauce off of your face and hands. When we got home, he told me he had a surprise and I should wait in the living room.
I did. I love surprises.
He brought something in covered with a sheet. It was big! I smiled, “What is it?” “Pull the sheet off,” he encouraged.
I did. It was a vacuum.
I was literally speechless. He started laughing, “You said you wanted one!”
I began having 50’s housewife flashbacks, followed by some mild hyperventilating. My mouth was still hanging open when he went outside, still laughing. I actually called my Mom and started crying. “Is that what he thinks of me?” I sobbed.
Eventually he noticed my distress, and attempted to smooth it over. “It was just a joke!” But kind words and a card were not balm enough to soothe my wounds and retrieve my disappointment. The worst part wasn’t even the humiliation, it was that he had gotten a bargain brand and it broke within a couple of months.
We did not celebrate another Valentine’s Day together, and my perception of the whole holiday was terribly pessimistic in the years following.
Lesson learned: sometimes it’s better to be single on Valentine’s Day!