In elementary school, my classmates and I would hand out perforated pieces of cardstock printed in varying shades of red and pink, with the latest popular cartoon characters with smiling faces printed on them. Each one would have some clever but ultimately redundant phrase, and below would be the scribbled name of the person who gave it out. There would be candy, too, most likely those chalk-flavored hearts with abbreviated inscriptions. All in all, it wasn't a bad day. Once home from school that day, I would eat the candy and stare lovingly at the card given to me by my crush that asked if I would be hers. I would be hers, yes, if only in my prepubescent dreams.
I had no qualms with the holiday until the events that transpired on Valentine's Day in 2004.
I had been dating this girl at college for a couple months, and earlier in the year she mentioned that she had always wanted to have an upscale and fancy Valentine's Day. She talked about getting dressed up in formal wear and going to a fancy restaurant... it seemed to me like a typical romantic fantasy. I wanted to do my best to give her what she wanted, so I started planning for this months in advance.
I rented a tuxedo and bought her an elegant red dress with jewelry and shoes. I made reservations (three months ahead of time, that's how long the waiting list was) at the fanciest restaurant in town, this upscale seafood place inside a large luxury boat down on the coast. I didn't have a car at the time, so the day before I took her car to get detailed, washed, and waxed. I went out and got a haircut, bought her flowers and a romantic card (and chocolate-covered strawberries) to give her when we got back to the dorms. I pulled out all the stops, found some more, and pulled those out, too. Everything was all arranged, and February 14th finally came.
From there, it all started to fall apart.
Confident she knew where she was going, she insisted I leave the directions to the restaurant at home. As it would happen, we got horribly lost. We ended up in a scary part of town, and while I'm not entirely sure, I think we might have been witness to 13 drug deals, 7 assaults, and 2 homicides. We eventually got to the restaurant unscathed, but by the time we arrived we had missed our reservation. We were forced to sit and wait with the other patrons without reservations. We waited for two hours before we were seated.
Due to the nature of the restaurant, there were no prices on the items on the menu. My girlfriend ordered a glass of wine, an appetizer, and her entree. I ordered my entree with a glass of water. The meal was decent, but not being a fan of seafood, I didn't truly enjoy it. The whole night was supposed to be my girlfriends dream Valentine's Day so I didn't complain, even when she ordered dessert.
I was scared to look at the bill when the waitress brought out the check. It wasn't as bad as I had thought it could be, but nonetheless, paying $85 for one meal for two people definitely hurt the wallet. After the meal, I tripped in the parking lot while going to get the car, and got mud all over my rented tux. We managed to get back to the dorms without getting lost, and it was considerably late by the time we arrived.
I walked her to her room with her flowers, card, and chocolate-covered strawberries in hand. Once inside her room she looked up at me, said "Thank you", and closed the door.
I stood in the hallway, dumbfounded.
Call me presumptuous, but after all the money and effort I put into making the day as much in line with her romantic fantasy, I expected to get a little something in return. I didn't have anything sexual in mind (sure, it would have been nice), but any kind gesture would have been appreciated. I spent over $200 giving her the fantasy Valentine's Day she had always dreamed of, and all I got was a "Thank you"? No card? No fooling around? Not even a cheap box of chocolates?
I was pissed.
And the most ironic and painful thing about this whole ordeal? Finding out three days later that the dessert at the restaurant, that fucking $12 slice of cheesecake, caused me to overdraft my checking account.
Happy Fucking Valentine's Day.
It was one hell of a day, but I try not to think about it too much. I still get a little upset when I think about how ungrateful my ex-girlfriend was, but it is in the past. She and I had our share of problems, and we broke up about a month later.
The Boss doesn't get into Valentine's Day too much, either out of her own feelings for the holiday or out of respect for mine. As the tradition goes, I make her a card and she makes me dinner. This year, in exchange for a handmade card (with a romantic haiku), I'll enjoy some spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.
And I don't have to wear a tux.