Monday, February 6, 2012


Oh, here it comes again. Valentine’s Day. My local drugstore had the displays up on New Year’s Day, but the holiday is officially in my face when my Starbucks cup has a big red heart on it. Somehow the brew seemed bitterer as I drank it. (Seriously?! Bitterer is a word? My Microsoft grammar check prefers it to more bitter. Alrighty then.)

Yes, I am not in love with Valentine’s Day. No surprise since I am not in love at all. I don’t need a day to separate me from the haves. I can feel it every day If I want to. True, this day is not about me at all. The have nots simply need to find other things to pass the day. Sudoku. Oven cleaning. Old episodes of our hero, “Mary Tyler Moore”. (She still rocks those bell bottoms.) If you’re in love, lucky you. You don’t really need a day to tell your partner how you feel, but throw in your support for Hallmark, Hershey’s and other providers. No doubt about it, I would too.

My disdain for the day came relatively late in life. Back in elementary school, I had teachers who admonished students and parents that all children in the class had to receive cards or Be Mine heart candies. Or both. My teachers taught me that Valentine’s Day is for everyone. Liars. They also colluded with my parents in feeding me lovely ideas about Santa, the Easter Bunny and that creepy bedroom imposter, the Tooth Fairy.

In high school, I learned the truth. V-Day is for the select few. In Texas, the girls who already flashed their boyfriend’s class ring and wore his letter jacket received roses, mums or balloons. Public displays of affection became more obvious as the couples took over the courtyard benches for hand holding, hugging and kissing. It was just as well that I was sexually confused back then. I didn’t stand a shot at enticing either gender with my overly enthusiastic case of acne and my white boy afro. I had a pick that I kept in my back pocket to poof it up several times a day—big on big hair. (Maybe I was harkening my inner Janis Ian as I wallowed in the words of “At Seventeen”.)

Even when I fell in love for the first time, Valentine’s proved to be a disappointment. Before going for dinner, John handed me a wrapped gift, eager for me to open it. I tried to follow mature unwrapping etiquette, tugging at the taped folds instead of savagely ripping the wrapping to examine my first ever V-D present. John beamed with anticipation. Look at him, I thought. He truly loves me. At last, Etta, at last.

I pulled back a corner of the wrapping to reveal the back of a picture frame. Yes! I’d finally reached Have status. A photo of us I could proudly display in my apartment! Uh, no. As I flipped the frame over, it was just John in the pic. In drag. From a time before we were together. Hmm. He laughed with glee. What a drag indeed.

I have only a week to wait out the holiday. There will be no online messaging, no coffee dates during the awkward interval. You don’t start something right before Valentine’s. Truth be told, holding off is not a sacrifice. It’s just part of my V-D whine.

I’ll get through it. Always do. Janis Ian, Jann Arden and Adele can keep me company. And tomorrow I’ll be ready. I’ll remember to bring my plastic mug to Starbucks and pass on the paper cup with the heart. It’s better for the environment. And my psyche.


Rick Modien said...

Hey, RG. As always, terrific writing with lots of humor. (By the way, I'd be curious to know how long the relationship with John lasted after you received that inappropriate and tasteless picture and frame. I hope you walked right out of his life. What a jerk.)

Anyway, you write that V-D is not about you at all, but you are so wrong. Each of us should be our own best Valentine, every day of the year. And I sincerely hope you are yours because you deserve to love yourself. And the only reason why you're still single is because you haven't met anyone good enough for you yet. But you will. Never, NEVER give up hope.

On V-D this year, rather than consider yourself a have-not, go out and treat yourself to something special. Because you are special. I know it, and you sure as hell better know it. Don't have someone in your life? Yes, you do. You. And there is no one more important in your life than you. You know I believe that.

My challenge to you? Celebrate V-D with yourself. Stop thinking about what you don't have, and start thinking about what you do. It will make all the difference. Let me know what you do to celebrate yourself this V-D because I want to be sure you do something. I'm holding you to this. And make it good. You deserve no less.

Rural Gay said...

Hi Rick,
I am embarrassed to say that I did not walk out on John. He broke up with me a month later and I was shattered. I was young and made many mistakes in that relationship. But then again, so did he!

I really can't imagine celebrating V-Day in any form. Heck, I don't even like chocolate. I do suppose that I could mimic my coworkers and leave work early. "Gotta go. It's Valentine's Day, you know." Why should they have a monopoly on a quick exit?

I do have a good book I am reading and would like nothing more than quiet time, sipping coffee in bed while the dog curls up against my feet. All in all, it can be a good day--just like any other day really.

The difference between my day and the day of many others is that I'm not going to flaunt my prized book. (I may, however, publicly gush about my dog if anyone should approach.)