Monday, February 14, 2011

Must Have Been That Puerile Archer

This morning I told my husband all about how American children celebrate Valentine's Day--selecting a box of assorted cards and filling them out with your classmates' names, and designing the bag or box to put on your desk for the free period where you get to walk around and deliver all your cards. He thought it sounded like a horrific early exercise in clique development. I don't know, I always thought it was fun, and I was not a popular girl.

I didn't date much in high school or college, but Valentine's Day never really bothered me. I had no sweetie to celebrate with until I was 21 and living in Munich, where I was entangled in a very dysfunctional relationship with a very dysfunctional Czech/German boy. It was the waning phase of our coupledom and I wasn't seeing very much of him, so I was surprised and touched when he dropped by my apartment with a little heart-shaped homemade cake that he said he'd baked for me. I later heard that he'd employed his sister to bake several of those cakes, one for every girlfriend he had. That still makes me laugh. What a tool.

I've been very lucky to celebrate over a decade of Valentine's Days with my husband, but we wouldn't have had any if we hadn't survived the first one. We'd been friends for about a year, during which he'd made it clear to me that he was interested. In return, I put up a giant wall that he persistently chipped away at, finally breaking through about a week before Valentine's Day. I knew he was a great guy, but I was fighting the idea of giving up my freedom and starting a relationship, and I'm ashamed to say that I was pretty mean to him on Valentine's Day. How mean, Rachel? Well...

He took me out for a cappuccino on my lunch break and brought me a red rose. I got irritated that we weren't having lunch and hid the rose under my desk. He made dinner plans for us to go out with my friends. I got irritated that we weren't dining alone. He misunderstood up the timing, so we sat around waiting for people who had already left and went late to the restaurant. I used this as an excuse to be a holy terror. He later told me that as we sat in the subway not talking to each other, he was wondering if he'd made a mistake.

Grissini, scene of the revelation that I was evil
When we got to the restaurant, our friends cheered. They'd been rooting for us to date all along, and knowing that we were running late, they hadn't even ordered the starters yet. As I sat down, I took a deep breath and mentally stepped back to look at how I was behaving. Then I gave myself a harsh scolding, told myself to stop being a shithead, and grabbed the hand of my terrified date and smiled my nicest smile. And that is when I surrendered to being his girlfriend, one of the best decisions of my life.

Thank you, sweetheart, for not running away screaming like you wanted to. We both know the happy sapfest that followed. And for all you other folk reading this, I'm really not that horrible. Promise.


  1. Wow, great Valentine's day story.

    I did watch Battlestar Galactica...Jamie Bamber is now on Law and Order: UK on BBC America. He's another guy I wouldn't mind marrying :)

  2. What a great sweetie you have! Cherish every moment!

  3. Awwww :) Isn't it funny how first dates are? Mine was a concert and Rocky Horror with a bunch of friends that ended up turning into a totally-by-accident date. Stroke of luck, I guess... 16 years together, 12 years married, and two kids later... lol. :)

    By the way, I teach first grade and we still do the old pass out Valentines thing. And they LOVE it! ;) Happy <3 Day!