Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

First, I have already abandoned Letters from Yellowstone. It is not terrible, but it is deathly boring. Ostensibly a novel about a lady scientist in 1898 traveling to Yellowstone, it's written by a botanist who works there and it's just one page of info dump, about the history of the park and the plants that grow there, after another. As the title would indicate, the story is told in letters written by many different characters, but all the voices sound exactly the same, and the occasional flashes of humor revealed at the beginning have completely disappeared. After a hundred pages, I found myself dreading picking it up again, and I decided that I don't have to read a book for farther than a hundred pages if I really don't like it. I could have powered through, because it's only about 230 total, but I am taking a stand. I've gone ahead and started Days of the Dead, by Barbara Hambly, and am much happier already.

Now, on to the topic du jour, quite literally.

I'm lucky in that we never made a big deal out of Valentine's Day in our ten years together. Some years we'd look at each other and sort of grudgingly agree that we should go out to dinner, and then derive wincing amusement from the couples around us who had clearly started dating around January and were now trapped into the idea of Valentine's Day but not yet into each other enough for it to be enjoyably schmoopy, and the pressure of the damned holiday was destroying their potential while they picked at their sushi. You could hear, in the air of the restaurant, the faint sibilance of thirty young people silently vowing to themselves, Next year if I don't have a significant other by November I will not leave the house until March.   

Lesson here, people: don't start a relationship around New Year's. Although Claudio and I did, and that worked out... oh. Right. Actually, we were fine for many years and many Valentine's Days. Sometimes, like I said, we'd go out. In the later, married years, he often bought me a nice piece of jewelry, and I would fret (openly) about how much it cost, because I am ungracious like that.  

In high school I baked brownies on Valentine's Day and brought them to school, but would only let single people take one. But back then I had a semi-cultivated bitter persona; after being dumped by a boy I'd crushed on for a long time before we dated, I was storming about being bitter, and several friends of mine said, "Oh, thank goodness; Beatrice is back! We didn't know who you were when you were all happy."

Even at the time I found that depressing, but I also fully internalized that I was more interesting when I was unhappy. I ran with that persona for a long time, even after the unhappiness stopped coming naturally because I was no longer seventeen. (I believe adolescence should have its own entry in the DSM. When I see ridiculously-well adjusted teenagers in movies and television shows, I scoff, because a teenager can have the best intentions in the world and be trying incredibly hard to be a nice person, but it is not hormonally possible to be sane during those years. Your brain chemistry is just not having it.)

Now I don't care about Valentine's Day. I don't feel the need to rant about how dreadful it is and how it reinforces the way our society tells women that we should be concentrating more on not dying alone than on, say, winning the Pulitzer. This is true, and I get very prickly about it, but not any more so on this day than any other. I have taken grief for not being out on the dating scene yet (have you SEEN the dating scene? only Bosch could do it justice), and for being as attached to my dogs as I am. I can only imagine the grief I would get if they were little lapdogs, or - heaven forbid - cats. It is true that I shall most likely become a crazy dog lady, dying alone surrounded by enormous hairy mutts who will eat my Pulitzer. I advise my nephew to buy some good vacuum cleaners in preparation for his inheritance.

In the meantime, there is excellent chocolate in my house, and a nice dinner for myself tonight, and lots of time with friends. Someone in the office received roses, so it smelled beautiful all day. I am genuinely happy for my friends who are in love. Things could be a lot worse.

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