Monday, February 14, 2005

no, indri, how do you feel about it?

People in general are sometimes surprised by the vehemence with which I hate Valentine's Day. Men who have the misfortune of dating me in any given February are equally--and often unpleasantly--surprised by how much something I claim to hate means to me. I feel like I should warn new people well in advance that this is very touchy for me, and that it is in their best interests to acknowledge the day somehow, as early in the day as possible. Because if I spend the day wondering if he's going to call, or leave me a little note, or surprise me in some way, and he doesn't, man, will there be hell to pay. Or even if he had something in mind, but didn't get to it until the afternoon, things will still be ugly.

I have no idea how it would be with a woman. I haven't been through a February with a female partner. Maybe that's my problem, hmm?

But Indri, I can hear you say, don't you call, or leave a little note, or something? Why is it on him?

To which I respond, I do. Sometimes it's nothing more than a little tentative e-mail, hoping I'm not being too presumptuous, hoping I'm not impinging too much on him, y'know, his space.

I am not speaking now of this year, although I did in fact send a little e-mail, and got a cheery little response. There will be no bloodbath this year, because, well, he's there, right? He's having his own fun (or maybe not, first Valentine's Day in years without his wife, maybe it sucked rocks.) And the imbalance in our feelings is something to which I have been reconciling myself for some time.

I expected nothing. Which is one way, as the Buddhists tell us, to avoid disappointment.

No, this is deeper even than love, or my current situation. Because I've had a few Valentine's Days where I was partnered, and they ranged from delightful (Slice) to dutiful (BowlCut, who had thought me too hip to care about something so square. Fortunately for him, this was before I was a martial artist.) No, it's those fucking junior and senior high flower sales. Who thought that was a good idea? Did they have these at your school? So much worse than the grade school routine with the exchange of little cards, where there were parents dutifully making sure, the night before, that every one of their child's classmates got something. I don't remember hating the day back then--why, look at this one!

When I was eight someone was crazy about me!

Let's not dwell on the fact that I still have this, twenty-seven years later, and it's one of the three most sincere such greetings I have ever received from anyone other than my parents. Perhaps the only three. Let me see. Marc Flatt wrote "I love you" in a hundred languages on a card he made for me a few years later, and bought me a box of chocolates with allowance money he'd saved up. Took me ice-skating, too. His mother drove. His little sister came along. Yep. Romance was in the air, let me tell you. And if anyone knows him, could you let him know I've been looking for him? Blond, blue eyes, maybe still a little chunky?

No. I was getting to flower sales. Flower sales are the worst. If I were the principal of a school, or even the assistant principal (Pavlova?), I would ban them outright. They're a blatant popularity contest, with glaringly visible markers of who's winning. Someone coming into a classroom to deliver the blossoms to the smugly smiling oh gosh are those for me? popular kids while those not so fortunate look on, wondering if they should be changing their acne medication. No sir. And it's worse when your homeroom teacher, doubtless thinking she's doing you a kindness, sends you a flower. Because there's that moment, right, before you look at the tag and you think, maybe?, and then you crash right back down. And then you're left wondering if she sent flowers to all of the kids in your homeroom, or just to you, because you're such a socially inept loser and she knows it because she's been hearing other kids laughing about it behind your back. How does anyone even survive high school? Seriously.

Bitter, party of one. I hate this day because without fail, it brings back all the old insecurities, every last one, gibbering, drooling, and scratching. And then I feel like I've made no progress. And get insecure about that. It's exhausting. Which is why I generally spend the day asleep, if it is at all possible.