My horrific stories on Valentine’s day
The Valentine’s day is here again. There are people that love each other and people that LOVE each other. My parents were the latter. They met through a friend and Mom knew after the first date. Dad knew after the second. In a month they were engaged and in two months they were married.
I thought that’s how it happened for everybody. Like the chicken that hatched in the Dr. Seuss book, “Are You My Mother?” I was always on alert, scanning the face of every guy I met wondering, ‘Are you my soul mate? Are you? Are you?’
Every relationship exploded. Debris landed everywhere. By the time my husband and I got together we both knew there was very little chance anything would work out. We had bombed at relationships, picked the worst people. We figured we were just doing it again, but we were wrong. Now I finally know what it’s like to love the right person and have a romantic Valentine’s Day year after year, with snuggling, happy cards and mornings in bed. Don’t feel jealous. I shall now take you on a tour of the ruins:
- Runar and I met at a coffee shop with friends. At first sight, I got swoony. He had blond hair and muscles. Lots of muscles. The kind a guy gets from doing manly things like shoveling snow. He said I was beautiful. That usually works for me. By our third date Runar confided he was bouncing around the idea that we should get married and have a couple of kids. At our three-month mark, Valentine’s Day rolled around. Off we went to an expensive French restaurant, candlelit and decorated with festive hearts and pink ribbons. During the main course he asked me if I’d ever had sex without a condom. Sure, I said, thinking everybody has at least once. I started to say it was a long time ago, but he was already in a road rage. His eyes blazed, he threw his napkin on the table, knocked over his water glass, left it there and stood up. The chair made a horrible scraping sound against the floor. Everybody turned and looked at us. He screamed, “You put me at risk!” Runar stormed out of the restaurant leaving me with a $200 bill and a bad, bad taste in my mouth.
- Rigo noticed me at Best Buy between DVDs and extension cords. He asked me if I like spicy food and his face fell when I said no. We went to a Mexican restaurant so he could get hot sauce. The date went well and so did the next three after that. The sex was good. Not great, but good enough. We spent more and more time together. Feb. 14 arrived and off we went to a high-end Spanish restaurant. As we ate spicy food, Rigo stared at me and said I was beautiful. I felt so close to him that night. So safe in his arms. In the morning, after he left for work, I called three friends and screamed into the phone each time, “Rigo said he loves me!” In the afternoon, Rigo called and said, “Thanks for a nice night. Take care. I’m moving to California.”
- Gerard and I met at B.B. King Blues Club. We were both in line. I lost my footing and would’ve fallen but he caught me in his arms with his 6’2” fit frame. My head was level with Jimi Hendrix on his t-shirt. I surveyed up to take in his perfect shoulders, a warm welcoming face, kind eyes and a full head of hair. We went to take seats but found we were in different sections. I had a front-row table because I’d paid more. A friend was supposed to come with me that night but she came down with a fever. When I sat down there was a sickening lovey-dovey couple and one empty seat. Dreading a night of loneliness I waved at Gerard and motioned him over. And so it began. As the months went by, Gerard often said, “You brought joy into my life.” His wife had died slowly from cancer. He said he never thought he’d find love again. We began talking about living together. I was over at his place one night and forgot my email login. I asked him if I could send an email from his account. “Sure,” he said, then walked back to the kitchen where he was cooking us a Valentine’s Day dinner. After I sent my email, his browser window caught my eye. A subject line read, “You brought joy into my life.” I got a weird feeling. I told myself not to snoop, but another glance revealed a subject line that said, “Darling, I never thought I’d find love again.” I had entered a Lifetime movie. Emails to all different women had the same subject lines. Shaking, sweating, I picked up the phone, called a friend, burst into tears and said, “Come pick me up. Now.” And that was that.
- Scott had asked a friend if she knew any nice Jewish women. It seemed like an omen. That’s exactly what my Dad asked of the friend who set him up with my mom. I quickly fell hard. All my friends said, “Slow down.” As usual, I tuned that out. “But he’s so funny,” I told them — not knowing then that making me howl with laughter didn’t automatically make a guy marriage material. Scott had grown up one train stop away from me. I thought that was another sign. I began to ignore his neon red flag: Scott was a prima donna. His parents had lots of money and promised Scott and his brother they’d never have to work — both were set to inherit a million dollars. But after a real estate crash, his parents lost millions and there was nothing left to give them. Scott couldn’t believe he’d have to work. The big picture of our relationship can be summed up in one Valentine’s Day. It was mild that February. Scott had finally gotten a job. I asked if he wanted to celebrate by meeting for lunch at Madison Square Park. Lovingly, I made brown bag lunches as a surprise. I made him a tuna sandwich just the way he liked it, on rye with mustard, shredded lettuce, thin pickle slices and beefsteak tomato. I placed chocolate chip cookies I’d made for him and restaurant-style cut-up celery and carrot sticks in a Ziploc baggie. The pièce de résistance was a firm Fuji apple from his favorite farmer’s market. I labored over magic-marker letters on the outside of the bag that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!!” then surrounded it with pink and red hearts. When we met at the entrance to the park, I beamed as I offered up my gift. Scott barely glanced at it and said, “You carry it. You know how I hate to carry things.” That’s when the relationship death knell tolled.
- Me, Myself and I: The next Valentine’s Day I decided to ignore the whole thing. A happily married friend told me not to give up on love. It would happen when I wasn’t thinking about it. On my way to Whole Foods, as I tried to not think about it, sorrow welled up. Yearning for a soul mate, I told myself to get a grip and stop thinking about it so it could happen. It turned into a ringing mantra: ‘Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.’ By the time I got to my 10th ‘Don’t think about it,’ I realized it was hopeless. I would never stop thinking about it. On my way home, I was stung by a swarm of happy couples walking hand in hand. The elderly couples drew my attention the most. Feeling whimpery, I knew I’d grow old alone. Trapped in a Woody Allen movie, with mic in hand, I ran up to lovebirds asking, “How do you do that?” “Where did you meet?” “How did you get married?” “What am I doing wrong?” I shook my head to clear the imaginary scene and told myself, ‘Don’t think about it,’ knowing I was doomed.
Epilogue: Apparently, I wasn’t doomed. I just read this recap to my husband, Steve, and we’re both laughing. My grandmother was right after all: “There’s a lid for every pot.”