Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Seemingly Brainless on Valentine's Day

"So what are you planning on doing for Valentine's Day?" I ask as I enter the house after work.

"She has to work all night that night so I'm off the hook." my roommate replies.

I go to the fridge as more a matter of habit than anything. I become hyper aware of the void in my stomach as I have only eaten a couple of bags of chips between work and school. It's ten at night and I've got to get something to eat. The void in the fridge matches the void in my stomach as is prone to happen all too often. Sometimes the motivation to go grocery shopping just isn't there on Saturday after I've completed a long week of work and school. I grab my half eaten pint of Ben and Jerry's and put it in the microwave for five seconds just to let it soften a little. It's not the most filling thing, but Cherry Garcia hitting the confines of my empty stomach has never felt so good. I glance around at the canary walls and plop down into the blue recliner to finish my ice cream.

"If she does get out of work early, she'll probably just come over and we'll end up making out," he adds.

If not for this statement, I would have thought he was doomed to suffer an excruciatingly awesome breakup come February the 14th. It is this statement that reminds me of the depth their relationship has displayed on the public scene. And what a public scene it has been. Public displays of affection, or PDA are one thing. The time I saw my boss holding hands and kissing her husband on the cheek at Some Burros was PDA. What I get to come home to on an almost nightly basis is beyond PDA.

It's three days later now and the big day for most men has come. I'm always hesitant to continue or make an attempt at establishing a relationship throughout the holidays because the expectations are too high. Of all the holiday expectations, Valentine's Day is the worst. Men are expected to invest an inordinate amount of time, effort, thought and money in spoiling a woman. Most of the time the hopes for the fruits of their efforts lies in getting lucky that night and that's no guarantee. What's worse is that these poor suckers aren't even in full control in ensuring that things go according to plan. Valentine's Day can be ruined by bad service at a restaurant, inclement weather, other guys trying to make things happen for themselves, or a bad case of the farts and/or sharts.

I read stories of mishaps containing all of the mentioned circumstances in the Boston Globe online. Work is slow on Valentine's Day so I sit at my desk and read online newspapers from other major market cities. Journalistic writing on the West coast just doesn't have the same quality as does East coast writing. Readers weigh in using the online form and describe their worst and best Valentine's Day experience.

I have one earbud unobtrusively hidden in my ear so that co-workers and managers don't notice and I listen to random albums on my iPod. I don't take it as a matter of coincidence that Flogging Molly somehow gets back to back albums played in the queue. The words of Dave King's subdued voice on "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" aptly describes the plight of some of the men calling me about their cell phone bills as their significant others nag in the background. "Well I know I miss more than hit, with a face that was launched to sink, and I seldom feel the bright relief. It's been the worst day since yesterday. If there's one thing I have said is that the dreams I once had now lay in bed. As the four winds blow my wits through the door, it's been the worst day since yesterday. " As much as this represents some sentiment on the most special day, Flogging Molly, in screaming angst, delivers again describing the situation of many others who feel slighted by unrequited love. "Then the ball dropped while everything fell by the way. As your tear drops were falling I forgot to say that I have always loved you."

Drivers pack the freeway and it's ten o'clock at night on a Thursday. Traffic is usually nowhere near this awful. As I pass other cars driving 60 mph where the limit is 65 and the standard is 75, I glance into their windows pelted with rain and confirm my suspicion. It seems that all these slow drivers are guys with a female passenger riding shotgun. These are the same guys who feel it necessary to battle via drag race to beat me to the merge on the onramp. Only tonight there is no over exaggerated show of testosterone. That needs to be saved for later. Logic would dictate that these dudes would be racing home in the hopes that end results are achieved according to plan. Apparently some have taken the more patient approach and are driving very carefully and slowly. They are on the home stretch and driving too fast might derail their plans for the remaining two hours of Valentine's Day.

As I arrive home, the roommate's girlfriend's car is parked in the street. On the counter is a gift bag containing a few items I don't care to notice and a frisbee. The card on the outside reads, "From Amber." The two of them are nowhere to be found but my roommate's truck is out front so I know they haven't gone anywhere. They must be in his room. I sit down at the computer to do my homework only to be bothered by an occasional bump against the wall coming from the other room. The lights are off as I type and listen to random tracks on iTunes. I turn the volume up so that everybody in the house can hear.

Despite my obvious hint at what is left to everybody as only guessing at impropriety going on in the other room (my roommates and I are all Mormons and believe in celibacy before marriage), the love birds seem to be unabashed as they walk out at quarter to midnight. The girlfriend has a curfew and it takes 15 minutes for her to get home.

Earlier that day I had an exchange with my other roommate's girlfriend, Mary. I like Mary. She's probably the nicest person who comes over on a regular basis. She came early in the morning to decorate Sean's room with candy and those awesome sugar cookies she makes with a hint of cream cheese in the frosting. Before she left, I mentioned the awkwardness of PDA and pointed out that quite a bit of it goes on during Valentine's Day. Although I tried to refrain from mentioning anybody in particular, and I was pretty sure she understood who specifically I meant, I decided not to leave any room for doubt and mentioned specifics. She laughed somewhat taken aback that I would come right out and say it and followed with, "I hope we're not like that. Are we like that?"

Of course Sean and Mary aren't like that. Otherwise, they would be the subject of this story. So I am left to wonder at the contrasting couples as I drift along through life alone knowing that this lonely status has the potential to change. And I evaluate how I would like my own potential relationships to be in the future. Sean and Mary have a strong basis of friendship that is the foundation, and this in sharp contrast to the other relationship which I can observe is mostly physical.

This post originally began just before Valentine's Day and it is now early March. Two weekends ago, several days after the big day, I asked my roommate where his girlfriend was. He replied that she was on a date with another guy then followed up with his disdain at this fact stating that he wished they were "exclusive". My thoughts are, if you have to ask or question the fact, you probably aren't and if you bring a girl home three or more nights out of the week and end up making out and that's not exclusive, what is?