Quick! What’s the best reason not to date me? If you said Valentine’s Day you are absolutely correct! Although to be fair, depending on your point of view that’s either an easy question or a trick one; because of course, it’s also the only conceivable reason not to. Therefore, if you guessed right then, oh you know me so well; and if you guessed otherwise, not to worry … I’m sure you’ll get up to speed on your Lesbiana trivia shortly..
So while many face the mid-point of this short, cold month lamenting the fact that they’ll be spending the lover’s holiday alone … well, the many who don’t live in this part of California where the sun is shining and it’s a balmy 75 degrees outside (sorry, but the rules and regulations of this state require that we report our magnificent weather whenever an opportunity presents itself … I don’t rub it in because I want to, I do it because I have to), it’s a day on which I celebrate my single status with a sigh of relief. Very simply put, I suck at Valentine’s Day.
I don’t know if I’m missing the romantic bone altogether or if something went awry developmentally due to an abundance or lack of chromosomes, but I don’t do cute and cuddly or grand gestures or sincere heartfelt expressions. It has nothing to do with taking a stance against the notion that this is the one day of the year where my declaration of love or affection must be done with ultimate perfection lest I run the risk of ruining a current or blossoming relationship forever. But, if it did have anything to do with that, I probably would take that stance because who the hell are the card and candy and flower conglomerates to tell me that they know better than I how to express my feelings and that I can’t do it without lining their pockets with my hard earned cash? That’s fucking bullshit man!
Anyway, I’m not good at receiving standard Valentine’s Day gifts because they’re so specific I don’t know what to do with them post-holiday. It seems a little like what would happen if we had a National Gag Gift Day. The holiday would be a hullabaloo of hilarious hi-jinks as we delighted in singing along with wall-mounted fish, toasting each other with drinks chilled by penis-shaped ice cubes, wearing FBI (Federal Boobie Inspector) t-shirts and embarrassing co-workers with fart machines affixed to their desk chairs. Then the next day we’d wake up surrounded by a bunch of crap that would be shoved into the backs of closets, because they were gifts so you can’t just throw them away; but what the hell are you supposed to do with plastic vomit and ceramic dog poo after NGG Day?
Once in my younger days I’d started dating a girl early into a new year. So when Valentine’s Day rolled around we were at that awkward stage of not really being a couple, but seeing each other often enough that the holiday had to be recognized. After overhearing another person talking about it, I went out and purchased a single red rose for her. And not the grocery store kind … I went to a florist and got her one that when sold by the dozen I couldn’t afford, but when purchased alone made me think to myself, “Holy shit! That much for one flower??” But I bought it anyway because if I was going to steal someone else’s idea, I was at least going to be classy about it. Also, if she hated it or was allergic to roses or something, it was just a flower and would be dead and trash-worthy in a couple of days … no muss, no fuss.
When she showed up at my apartment to do whatever young lesbians did back then that seemed romantic (probably light some candles, drink cheap champagne, pop Desert Hearts into the VCR and have sex), I presented her with my single, sophisticated rose. She handed me a little stuffed bear with red horns and a cape, holding a pitchfork and a tiny, heart-shaped satin pillow reading I’m A Horny Widdle Devil (Widdle, widdle … I try to be open-minded, I try to be accepting, but I cannot deal with baby-talk, ever, in any form, written or verbal. Unless, of course, you are a baby, in which case I know you have no choice … and you’re obviously a very intelligent baby if you’re reading this, but it is not age-appropriate material. Where the hell are your parents?).
I turned it over in my hands. “What does it do?”
“Do?” she asked.
“I mean,” I said, still examining it, “Does it walk or talk? Or shoot little chocolate candies out of its butt?”
She explained that it didn’t do anything. She just thought it was cute and that maybe I could take it to work and put it on my desk so I’d think of her whenever I looked at it. That was a bad idea. I was beginning to like this girl, but I knew that every time I looked at that bear I’d like her just a widdle bit less.
What I learned from that experience was that although over the years I would receive other such Valentine-specific tchotchkes that seemed pointless once February 15th rolled around, rather than leaving them on display and gathering dust in my apartment until we broke up or I “misplaced” them while rearranging the furniture, it was perfectly acceptable to take them to work … where I could be reminded of the wonderful girl who gave them to me every time I opened my bottom desk drawer. Also, you don’t have to go to an expensive florist and pony up fifteen bucks for a single rose when it’s perfectly acceptable to pick up a gift at the Exxon station while gassing up your car on the way over to meet your date.
Even when I was with my Ex for umpteen years, we were never quite able to come to terms with how to celebrate, or not celebrate, the holiday. It always felt like some kind of test to me – one I usually failed. In the beginning I tried to be a good Valentiner, because it’s kind of what you do until you have the relationship locked in … like shaving your legs every day, refusing to acknowledge that either of you possess a working gastrointestinal system and thinking those quirks of her’s that will later drive you to the brink of insanity, are cute.
I can’t remember exactly when, maybe six or seven years in, I told her that I thought we’d made our point Valentine-wise and confessed that I really never liked that particular holiday anyway. We’d lived together for years, we told each other “I love you” every day (and meant it!), we shared laughter and tears and secrets and … everything! Was it really necessary to participate in this trite tradition? So we tried agreeing not to celebrate, then I’d arrive home with nothing and she’d have flowers for me; we promised to exchange just cards, but she’d get me candy too; we attempted to be different and celebrate on another day, and I’d find a card taped to the door as I left for work on the 14th. It seemed no matter what I did to not do Valentine’s Day, she found a way to do it anyway — and I looked like a schmoe for sticking to the plan we’d made. But I guess never catching onto the fact that no matter what we agreed to do, we were supposed to do the opposite, shows that I probably am a little schmoey in that department … hint-taking isn’t my strong suit.
I struggle with anything that demands I feel or act a certain way on command. That kind of pressure panics me and I make bad choices. It doesn’t have to be on Valentine’s Day — if someone ran up to me at Target on the second Wednesday in September and yelled, “On your mark, get set, shower your girlfriend with love!” I’d very likely freak out, grab the first thing I saw and thrust it into her hands. And hopefully she’d be touched by how much that six-pack of boys tube socks showed how deeply I care. That same overwhelming feeling of anxiety and indecision is what might cause me to select the first heart-shaped box of candy I see, because somehow an assortment of chocolates that’s identical to all the ones being given to thousands upon thousands of other women would demonstrate how unique and special I think she is.
I’m not anti-gifts. The typical Valentine’s Day one are just limited and I prefer gift-giving occasions that have a little more flexibility, like birthdays and Christmas and no reason at all. If you’re dating me (and again, aside from my suckitude with this one holiday, I don’t know why you’re not … well, unless you’re a guy, or a straight woman, or we’re geographically unsuitable, or you’re in a relationship … but you single SoCal lesbians and bisexual women — oh who am I kidding? you straight women who just want to take a walk on the wild side, too … we should at least get a cup of coffee or something), I may show up at your door one day with a three-gallon jar of Skittles. And you may ask yourself, “Why is Lesbiana giving me a year’s of supply tangy, delicious treats with crunchy candy shells?” (or a week’s supply, or a lifetime supply … I guess it depends on your fondness for Skittles). And you may ask me, “What the fuck Lesbiana?” To which I would reply, somewhat surprised that you even need to ask, “Remember this summer when we went to Palm Springs and we stopped at that gas station to pee? I bought a bag of Skittles and you bought M&Ms, and then later you said you wished you bought Skittles instead. Well, now you don’t have to worry about that because you’ll always have Skittles.” And you might tell me, “I only said that because my M&Ms got all melty and gross.” “Oh.” I would say. But then, quick on my feet and ever the optimist, I would add, “All those Skittles look kind of pretty in that jar though, don’t they?” And you would smile and nod, all the while thinking, “Boy, Valentine’s Day is going to suck with this one.”
And you would be right.
But, the point is that you’d have learned not to set your expectations very high with me, so those Valentine’s Day tube socks won’t be too much of a disappointment.