When Awkward Met Awkward

A long, long time ago (July 12, 2015), at a writers conference far, far away (Long Island, where I live), one girl (me) would defy the odds and not totally screw up a first date.

The first time I saw my boyfriend, I thought he was hitting on the girl next to me. I found myself mildly jealous, and reacted normally by going back to my room and googling him.

The second time I saw my boyfriend, I was helping myself to approximately four tacos and was heading over to the dessert table. I picked up a cookie and turned around to see his face, giving me a small smile. I reacted normally by holding my cookie up, aggressively proclaiming, “You gotta have a cookie!” And ran away as fast as I could.

The third time I saw my boyfriend, I was reading outside and saw him talking to someone inside a nearby building. I reacted normally and decided I would take the (very) long way back to my room, in the hopes that maybe I would get a bit of his attention, despite the lack of cookie in my hands. I went inside the building and (as casually as I could manage) walked by him. It was pretty anti-climactic. I exited convinced that he hadn’t seen me and headed toward my room, thinking the evening ahead of me would be filled with sales reports and a few episodes of Bob’s Burgers.

Imagine my surprise when, about ¾ of the way through my journey, I heard a panting noise and turned around to see him, out of breath, clutching his knees, and in the most gentle, sincere way, he said, “I followed you.”

So the first thing I learned about him was that he has the lightest footsteps in the entire universe and the first thing he learned about me is that I’m a really fast walker. I still constantly look around when we are walking together to make sure he’s still there.

We talked for an hour after that, just standing outside on the sidewalk. It was the most effortless conversation I’ve ever had. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t trying to be aloof or flirtatious or appealing. I wasn’t anything. I was just having a blast. We had inside jokes within minutes. We went to the beach and talked until nearly 2am. We made out in his car as Gypsy punk music played in the background. It was magical.

And even though a lot of crap has happened over the past couple of years (theses and job searches and career changes and health scares), I can say it has been magical ever since.

They say opposites attract. Maybe that’s true for some. I kind of think it’s a cliché used to get people to go see Rom Coms. All I can really say is that, after a string of romances one might refer to as a comedy of errors, it’s been wholly serene to be with someone who understands me. I don’t have to worry about the weird things I do or say; I don’t have to be self-conscious (of course, I will be, but that’s beside the point). We can say things to each other like, “Do you ever worry that gravity is just going to stop working?” And the other will confirm that is a perfectly reasonable thing to worry about.

I’m not perfect. Neither is he. We get stressed out and have bad days. But we have a contract that we will always be nice to each other, no matter what. After the experiences I’ve had, his strict adherence to this agreement still shocks me, and I often find myself saying, “You’re so nice to me.” And he always responds, “Of course.”

Even though I just poo-pooed the “opposites attract” cliché, I will say this to you, awkward-teers, if you’re struggling with this portion of the vast, deep, rich life you’re leading: love is out there, you deserve it (every bit of it), and it will probably happen when you least expect it. I also poo-pooed these clichés for a long time, but came around to realizing you can’t deny the facts. If an awkward, self-loathing curmudgeon like me can reel in a keeper with lines like, “You gotta have a cookie,” anything is possible.

And to you, Marc, happy anniversary. You’re the best ram gagger this side of Nevada and there is no one in this universe I’d rather be weird or worried about gravity with.

As Alain de Botton says in The Course of Love, “We don’t need to be constantly reasonable in order to have good relationships; all we need to have mastered is the occasional capacity to acknowledge with good grace that we may, in one or two areas, be somewhat insane.”

DSC06476 copy

J. Awkward Prufrock’s Next Adventure

Well, after a few weeks of apartment hunting, work retreats, and health nonsense, I’m back, baby!

Whether or not I will be able to post more frequently in the future remains to be seen. I do have other writing projects sitting on my desktop. I would ultimately have time to do both if I didn’t keep looking at Reddit theories on who killed Sister Cathy. But if I’m being honest with myself…

There are A LOT of changes happening in my life right now. Big ones. My boyfriend and I are moving to Philadelphia in a few weeks. I’ll be starting my MSEd program in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania shortly thereafter. With the exception of my brief stint in New York City, I’ve been living a comfortable suburban existence mooching off of my parents since I graduated college in 2012. This is all fairly new to me. And scary. Change is weird.

Bear with me as I write all of this out. Making all of these decisions has been hard work and I need to put a timeline and logical flow to my thought process.

I always knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, and I’ve virtually spent the past five years trying to decide what the heck to get a master’s in. I even had a deposit down for an MFA program four years ago. Then I got into a bad car accident and decided the world was too much for me and I was just going to drink wine on my parents’ deck forever.

I took some graduate courses after that, did some more rounds of applications for different programs (thanks to the theatre professor who wrote me a recommendation every single time!). It was a very slow process. Finally, about a year ago, I decided I just had to pick something. All the time I’d had on my parents’ deck (coupled with a lot of therapy) allowed me to conclude that your career is just one part of you. What you do for money and who you are as a whole and complex human being simply do not equate. The American Dream is kind of warped in that way, since it preaches that they are, in fact, the same thing. What a stressful way of thinking.

The funny thing is, when I was 17 and all throughout my undergraduate education, I felt like I had to defend why I was majoring in theatre. Ever since I graduated and have dabbled in a few different career paths, I feel like I have to defend why I didn’t (and won’t) pursue theatre. People constantly ask me why I’m not acting (though I’ve never seen anyone ask a history major, “Why aren’t you historying?”). What can I say? I fell out of love with it. If someone offered me a job acting 9-5, Monday-Friday, with a decent salary and full benefits, would I do it? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. If someone offered me a job writing 9-5, Monday-Friday, yes, absolutely, without question. But I can write any time, in the comfort of my own home, without a crowd of people watching my every move. And in the meantime, I will just continue pledging my loyalty to the arts and dedicating my life to sealing its place as a necessary piece of community, culture, and therapy. I don’t want to act. I want to wake people up.

An MSEd is just a step toward keeping my promise to the arts. And after that, who knows? Maybe a PhD or an MFA. I really really like school.

I’ll admit, moving to a city I barely know is rather daunting. When I first went to college, in a small town called Center Valley, PA, was the first time I understood the true definition of, “New Yorker.” Philly is, of course, a major city and I’m not expecting nearly as much of a culture shock. And if New York didn’t want people to leave home, it would lower its taxes. But it’s new and it’s different and I’ve never been that savvy at urban living. I’m bad at finding “scenes.” Unless that scene is panning in on me, my antagonist, sitting in a dark room, because time has gone by since I started sitting in silence, and I don’t feel like getting up and putting on the lights.

Moving in with my boyfriend, in contrast, is one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. On top of his many endearing qualities, he rubs my feet without my having to ask, so he’s pretty much a necessity.

Frankly, I’m most terrified of learning how to cook. And keeping neighborhood ne’er-do-wells at bay. Don’t mess with me! I will cry!

And what can I say? Even though all of these changes have and will continue to stress me out, even though I spend hours on end questioning everything I’ve ever known about myself and living my life, even though I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing…I’m really freaking excited.

My Top 3 Most Awkward First Date Moments

I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

Dating was important to me from a fairly young age, because I thought that being in love would fix all of my problems, from my glaring emotional insecurities to why pants never fit me right. So when the time came around for me to date, I wanted to do it correctly.

The problem was that I was growing up during the dawn of the internet and a golden age of romantic comedies, and while young me hoped this would provide answers, it only created a crowded and ambiguous thought bubble full of questions. Questions that I still have to this very day.

And so, here we are.

1.


From my pre-teen years onward, I always thought it was kind of weird that men were expected to pay for everything on dates, based on what I had observed and read. I understood where the idea came from, but now that we were living in a time in which women earned their own money and forged their own independent paths, it didn’t make sense to me. I also feel horribly uncomfortable whenever anyone does anything for me. If I ever broke my leg, I would still limp my way to the kitchen for a glass of water to avoid inconveniencing anyone.

Of course as an uptight, angry teen, I thought the idea of a woman paying was highly progressive and that my cause would contribute to the betterment of humanity. To the point that I was pretty militant about it. Any guy who offered to pay got a hard no (it, of course, never occurred to me that the money I spent usually came from my father’s wallet since I had no pennies to speak of at the time).

When I was about 19, I was talking to an ex-boyfriend and he casually mentioned that while he supported my viewpoint, if someone wants to treat you, sometimes it’s polite to just let them treat you. So when another guy pulled up to my house for our first date, saying he was going to treat me to miniature golf, I decided I was going to try and be treated. What could be so bad about a treat?

When we arrived at the mini golf course, I started to panic. The idea of letting him pay made me feel so…dependent, powerless, weak. I was coming around to understanding that’s not always how the treat-er sees it, but the helplessness that started to take over my body was uncomfortable and making me feel sick. So when he was about to walk over to pay for our mini golf outing, I knew it was going to happen.

But that didn’t mean I had to see it happen.

“I…uh….” I stammered.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, all good, I just uh…” Think, Jillian, think! What is a good excuse? His beautiful face is staring, waiting.

“I’m just…gonna stand over here.” Yes, that makes sense.

“What?”

“I’m just gonna stand over here for a minute.”

“Do you need me to…stay with you?”

“No! No…that’s alright. You go over there. I’m just gonna stay here.”

He raised one eyebrow at me, but he did listen. And he did date me for a little while after this. Bless him.

I then proceeded to hide behind the bathroom building and let the transaction happen at a distance.

It occurs to me all these years later that I could have just said I had to go to the bathroom. That’s probably a more normal thing to do, right? Oh, well.

2.


Because I, like many, was a walking bucket of contradictions (still am, just different contradictions), even though I felt I was pursuing a great feminist plight financially, I also still really wanted boys to like me. This combined with a total lack of social and self-awareness at the time really made some weird science happen.

I used to be a lot more preoccupied with physical appearance than I am now. I think being healthy and feeling your best is important, but back in my teenage years, my warped brain was downright obsessed with keeping my weight low and making sure nobody knew that I ate.

Which proved tough. Because I can eat, friends. Like, really eat. I have no sense of fullness. Only a sense of sickness and self-loathing.

But I thought that showing off this talent would be unattractive to the opposite sex. This started to be a sort of problem when I entered the “getting asked to dinner” phase.

Once for a first date, a guy took me to a nice pub with a small menu, mostly consisting of burgers, wings, and other messy foods that I could chew loudly and get all over myself as I licked the plate clean. Also, he had already said he insisted on paying, and if I was going to allow that, you could bet your arse I was going to get something real cheap. I perused the menu for something that would make me seem dainty and low-maintenance (even though I am neither). I settled on a stuffed mushroom appetizer, knowing how impressed he’d be by my teensy appetite.

“Are you sure that’s what you want for your meal?” The waiter asked. “It’s kind of small.”

“Oh, yes, that sounds perfect,” I responded as my stomach growled at me.

“You girls always eat like birds,” my date said through a small smile (see! It wasn’t just me! We all had them fooled).

Turns out “kind of small” meant one mushroom, stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese, in the middle of a white plate.

Now I didn’t want to eat too quickly and appear gluttonous or make him feel like he had to eat his actual, normal meal quickly, so I decided to cut the mushroom into crumb-size pieces, fit for the delicate birdie-ness I was emanating, and ate them at a very slow, calculated pace. I think I actually finished after he did.

Then I went home and made myself nachos and he never called me again.

3.


This story, while awkward, is also about effective techniques one can adopt in the face of douchery. It is about survival.

I went on a first date and it was going well. Pretty low-pressure stuff: fruit smoothies, a walk around town. He seemed nice.

Of course it turned out, for this man, a date that’s going well means he’s totes gonna get laid after.

So, as we pulled into my driveway, I leaned in to give him a tame kiss on the lips, and he took my face in his hands and forced my mouth open with his tongue. I pulled myself away because, ew, gross.

“What are you doing?”

“You, hopefully,” he responded with a smugness so potent, I wanted to throw acid on it.

He started leaning in again. His face was mere centimeters from mine.

“I’M OVULATING!”

“What?”

Then I jumped out of the car and ran.

The Top 5 Things I Want to Learn About in 2017

Welp, because of my last entry, I feel a need to comment on the GG revival (well, that, and I have feelings). As expected, Emily and Paris were beautiful, wild forces of nature. While I found faults in many aspects of the revival (as I do with anything; frankly I’m not sure if I’ve enjoyed a movie or TV show in years), those two characters made it worth it for me. However, (SPOILER!!!!) it ended with Rory writing a book about her life called Gilmore Girls, so I have to hate it forever now. This is one common storytelling trope I simply cannot get behind. Dear writers, why must all these writer characters have their masterpiece be the thing you wrote? That is not interesting. That is not poignant. That does not cause me to reflect on the circular nature of time. That is lame. And a bit narcissistic to say that the great work of this writer character’s life is your work. If you must write a writer, write a good writer; one who can think outside their own life story. Do not write a writer character with the hopes of seeing a better-looking version of yourself on the big screen one day and so you can further reassure your audience that your story is a GREAT STORY.

End rant.

The New Year is creeping up on us, and I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I’m grateful for my new job (can’t turn my nose up at a steady pay check and health benefits) but it’s definitely been a pace adjustment. My last job was 24/7 with phone calls, emails, planning, reading, and stress. This new job is legitimately one I can leave at 5pm on the dot and not have to worry about until I come back the next day at 9am. All well and good. No complaints. It’s just not what I’m used to. It doesn’t present me with crazy challenges every day. There aren’t any fires to put out. And because of this, I feel like I’m not exercising my mind enough. I can feel my brain turning to mush.

The bad thing is I haven’t been using my spare time to challenge myself either. There’s been a lot of sitting around and watching TV and not enough of doing the things I promised myself I would do; the things I want to do.  I want to get more serious about writing. I want to read more and experience more. I want my life to be more than sitting on a couch, watching shows I’ve already seen and/or don’t really like that much, having fleeting thoughts about my mortality and making a mental note to get a life as soon as this episode is over.

I’m a pretty curious person with a lot of interests and a desire to learn as many things as my head can carry (probably in part so I can whip it out in conversation and continue to strive for the “insufferable know-it-all” status. I am disgustingly competitive. Repartee is my men’s locker room). I am often completely overwhelmed by the amount of things I’ll never know, the amount of things I will know, and the amount of things I probably did know and have forgotten.

I’ve recently realized that there are certain broad subjects that I really just know nothing, or very little, about, and as part of Operation Non-Mush Brain, I have decided these are the things I am going to learn about in 2017. If you know about these things, feel free to share in the comments, email me, or come to my house and we can drink champagne with our pinkies out and laugh at ignorance.

Geography

I don’t know where anything is. That’s the truth.

The first test I ever did poorly on was in the 4th grade. We had to memorize the location of every town on Long Island and write it into a map. I am not a visual person. I am miserable at the “find the differences in the picture” puzzles. So this test was my nightmare. And because I am a crazy perfectionist who spends a great deal of time trying to drive memories of imperfection out of her head by screaming profanities, the results did not sit well with me. I think maybe this resulted in an aversion to geography.

That, and I have no sense of direction. I have never gone somewhere for the first time without getting lost. I feel like I only recently got the hang of North, South, East, West.

I don’t know the names of mountain ranges, seas, capitals. Let alone where they are. It’s incredibly embarrassing when I go to trivia night.

So this will be the first thing I learn about. Where things are.

How Things Work

There are so many things I use throughout the day, but I have no effing clue how they do the things they do. Because I am a serial anthropomorphizer, I am often filled with guilt for not knowing and understanding these objects better. Like I’ve been driving my car for 3.5 years now, but I don’t really know him/her. I just use him/her (my car, Victor Victoria, is gender fluid). I intend to use this upcoming year to learn about the parts that make up the whole.

Finance

I have a bank account! Why does it have to be more complicated than that?! Heck, why does it have to be more complicated than a shoebox full of cash under your bed? We should all take a leaf out of my crazy, dead aunt’s book and hide our money in paper napkins.

Investments, stocks, bonds, the economy. Not exactly my forte. The only math class I had to take in college was called Survey of Mathematics, and we didn’t really do math in that class. We just thought about it. How to manage and move your money is probably useful information to have so I guess I should get on that.

Guitar

I have magnificent fantasies of me sitting around a campfire with all the friends I am going to make once I learn to play guitar, and I dazzle them with my amazing guitar skills. In this fantasy, my fingers move swiftly and seamlessly over the strings, and not at all like they normally have the dexterity and steadiness of an alcoholic leaning on a washing machine. Plus, my singing voice becomes inexplicably awesome. While many of these things are unachievable, I have had my guitar for over a year now and I could be/would like to be a lot better at it.

Self-Care

I don’t put myself first and I spend too much time assessing my happiness to actually let myself be happy. I let people take advantage of me because I want to be loved. I’m hard on myself. I beat myself up over things that happened a long time ago and that most other involved parties don’t even remember. I need to keep myself healthy, both physically and mentally. I need to eat well and exercise but not get upset with myself when my pants are a big tighter. I need to remind myself that there is no right way to do this, that bad things happen, that good things happen, that sometimes I will be right and sometimes I won’t be, and nobody else is expecting anything of me otherwise.

When It’s Time to Change, Then It’s Time to Change

I thought about many titles for this entry, such as “Ch-ch-ch-changes” and “The Times, They are a-Changing.” Then I realized that whenever one needs a lyrical reference to define a point in one’s life, one cannot go wrong with the Brady Bunch.

Soooo…I quit my job last week.

It was a long time coming. Frankly, I hadn’t been happy there for the past 18 months or so—aka once they put me into a managerial position and suddenly it was my job to save a failing company and no matter how much effort I put into it, somehow they would still forget to pay me.

However, I wasn’t planning to leave so quickly, because change, even for the better, terrifies me. I told myself I would stay until December, make sure things were sorted out and my projects were completed. Then I had a breakdown at 2am last Monday and wrote a resignation email. My fingers shook as I hovered over the “send” button, unable to get even the smallest breath in. And then I had one of those elegant moments of clarity as my snot ran into my tears and the salty, snotty mixture made its way to my mouth. Nothing is worth feeling like this. And then, finally able to take a deep breath, I hit “send.”

As it turns out, my internet wasn’t working, and I had to make three attempts to send the email after that. It suddenly became one of those quintessential human vs. uncooperative technology moments. Lots of swearing, lots of huffing and puffing. If you ever want to witness the truth of human nature, watch a room full of people with slow computers.

Once it finally went through, I wish I could say I felt amazing and triumphant because not only had I overcome the machine but had also overcome my fears and negativity. But I didn’t. Instead, I tossed and turned all night asking myself what the hell I just did.

The amazing, triumphant feeling sets in slowly, gradually, when I think of the next job I could have, one with a steady pay check and benefits and security and some time on the side to do the things I love. One that doesn’t have me answering emails and taking phone calls on weekends and late at night that leave me wishing all my fingers were middle fingers.

I have decided to apply to graduate school for the fall at the very last possible minute because that’s how things happen for me. I’m going to study student affairs administration with the hopes of doing academic advising and career counseling for a university. Because despite my complete and utter inability to figure out my own life, I am damn good at telling other people to stop screwing around and to pull themselves together. I am the pot and you are the kettle. Let’s get all steamed up!

I will leave you with a few sometimes helpful clichés: life is ephemeral, do what makes you feel alright, the perfect job is not out there, perfection is not out there, but if you find yourself screaming your feelings of hopelessness into your pillow every night, then it’s time to make a change. And as the Brady Bunch would say, it’s a sunshine day, you’ve got to be in love to love a love song, let me hear some of that good time music, and we’re gonna keep on keep on keep on keep on dancing all through the night.

New York, I’m Breaking Up With You

New York and I had a whopping nine months together, and all I can say is we’ve gestated a pretty ugly baby.

When I was in college studying acting, everyone always talked about how they were going to live in New York after graduation. I tried to hop on that bandwagon, envying their starry-eyed aspirations and the glamorous outlooks they had for their futures. I made plans with friends to move to New York, to pound the pavement, looking for our big breaks. But in the back of my mind, I knew both acting and New York weren’t for me.

However, because the world works the way it does, I ended up having to move to New York City for a job.

Hi Jillian,

Will u go out wit me?

YES      NO

Xoxo New York City

Eh…I guess?

And so, I packed up what I could fit in my new tiny, overpriced room, and headed off to the big city.

In some ways, I was really excited about it. I had a lot of friends living in the city and I thought it would help improve my social life. Despite the fact that many people think I’m this really intense and serious person, I’ve never had much ambition when it comes to my career. All I’ve ever really wanted was friendships like the ones on I saw on TV. And if you ever did find me staring at you like you’re nuts, it’s simply because you’ve gone off script.

I’ve now found out that New York City friendships are rooted fundamentally in the, “You’re broke, I’m broke, and you’re either in another borough or a far walk from my apartment, so let’s just text each other occasionally” mentality.

And now, because fate is a fickle fiend with a twisted sense of humor, after nine months, I have to leave New York, once again for work. Because my boss no longer wants to pay a monthly fee that could feed a family of four for a cubby with no ventilation.

And while I’m always the kind of person who gets really anxious about any sort of change, and the kind of person who clings on to nostalgia, I can look around at my New York apartment, my first real adulthood home, and feel absolutely nothing.

I suppose in some weird way, I will miss being on the subway, told that I am being delayed because of the train traffic ahead of me, cursing the MTA under my breath, avoiding the overly affectionate couple next to me while I vigilantly scan the train for suspicious characters until some old lady does a hip hop dance for quarters. I will miss the constant threat of terrorism. I will miss how every Starbucks has an inexplicably long line. I will miss thinking I have money until the 1st of the month arrives. I will miss walking in the rain with my arms full of groceries. I will miss the church bells across the street ringing every hour, starting at 7:30am on weekends.  I will miss the tremendous sense of culture I felt whenever I got yelled at in another language. I will miss being enveloped in the hot scent of old sewage like a warm hug. And I will miss you, people who blast Kanye West out of your car at 3am, so loudly that my walls shake. You, I will miss most of all.

In a completely serious, non-weird way, I will miss the fact that Coldstone delivers. And speedily, at that.

To all of you tried and true New Yorkers out there, I am not mocking you. I have nothing but envy and admiration for artists, for dreamers, for those who can look at something like New York and see unending possibility, see home. I look at New York and see a TV show I might enjoy if I didn’t have to keep getting up to shift the antennae.

So…

Hi New York,

I have 2 break up wit u. I like da suburbs now.

Sry,

Jillian

P.S. As a small update from my last entry, I came home to find the dead bird had finally been swept off the ledge by the rain and is now resting comfortably in the grass. I like to think it was some kind of metaphor.

Observations on Valentine’s Day

As someone who writes about awkward romantic encounters and the other general nonsense of the social world, I felt it was necessary for me to bring up Valentine’s Day, quite possibly the most awkward day of the year (besides Columbus Day).

I used to be one of those people who combated that spirit of Valentine’s Day with bitterness and disdain. Down with men! Let’s burn our bras and eat cookie dough with our hands! I no longer feel this way, perhaps because I’ve learned there is no enemy greater than apathy, or perhaps because I really just don’t give a hoot. As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get the day off from work, there’s little to celebrate.

Thinking about what to write in this post caused me to reflect on this very strange day, its traditions, and the way it makes people behave. I am going to list these reflections for you chronologically for your convenience and mine.

Elementary School Valentine’s Day

Everyone MUST send a personal valentine to every single member of your class. Then we get to all get up at the same time and walk around the room, making a mess of everyone’s desks with 28 new slips of paper that will be stuck in our backpacks and forgotten until our mothers discover them and throw them all away. In the meantime, when you get back to your desk, you get to read cards that have messages like, “I think you’re swell,” with pictures of Scooby Doo on them, from people who any other day of the year (and possibly at lunch time today) would be throwing pieces of bread at you.

It’s alright. It’s very silly, but I get the system. They don’t want any hurt feelings. They’re democratizing love. It’s wasteful but rooted in kind-heartedness.

But then….

Middle School/High School Valentine’s Day

Hold onto your hats, kids! It’s a carnation sensation!

When you’ve finally gotten used to the elementary school system, they hurl you over to the other side of the fence: the side where suddenly how many Valentine’s gifts you receive illustrates your social stature and thus how worthy you are of love. Why oh why would any school allow those ridiculous carnation sales? If you want to milk Valentine’s Day for all of its capitalistic potential, at least sell something like brownies that everyone can enjoy. Do you realize by doing so you could double your sales demographic? Oh wait, I forgot that middle school and high school are about ostracizing the socially uncomfortable kids while their hormones rage and their bodies and faces get weirder by the minute.

If you couldn’t tell, I was one of those kids who rarely got a flower. I laugh about it now, but at the time, I remember feeling incredibly hurt by it. And it all could have been avoided if one astute administrator just looked around and said, “Hold on…this is really stupid.”

College Valentine’s Day

College is where Valentine’s Day becomes more “sophisticated” for its participants. I mean, you’re adults now, and your level of adultness is directly correlated with the girth of your Valentine’s Day activities. I had my first Valentine’s Day date my freshman year of college. We ate pasta and saw Taken and it was awesome. Neither one of us had a car and we had to be driven around by a friend, who brought another friend, which made it more fun, I think.

College Valentine’s Day is when people start to get really up in arms about the holiday. The pressure is real. I guess because relationships tend to be more serious. I can’t really say. But I do know that my sophomore year, I was in a play, and the director wanted to schedule a rehearsal on Valentine’s Day, and I had never seen such an uprising. Profanities were shouted, tears were shed, lives were ruined. The director ended up not scheduling the rehearsal and there was much rejoicing. I was secretly very bummed out because I liked the idea of having something to do.

As I watched the evolution of Valentine’s Day that comes with age, I also found myself extremely amused at how much pressure is put on the boyfriend to make the plans. The guy has to buy the flowers and the chocolates and make the reservation and provide the entertainment. And if he messes one thing up, all hell can break loose.

Which brings me to…

Working in a Restaurant on Valentine’s Day

…Why do people still go out to eat on Valentine’s Day?

I’ve worked in a restaurant for the past three Valentine’s Days and I honestly don’t understand how it can be a pleasant evening for diners.

Firstly, unless you booked your reservation a month in advance, you are going to get a terrible table and bad time. I have heard boyfriends get badly scolded over the phone when they find out all we have left is 10 o’clock and later. Many desperate men have tried to bribe me with jewels and finery to get them in the coveted 7 o’clock slot. But alas, my hands are tied to the integrity of the seating chart.

Any couple that I’ve served on Valentine’s Day also looks thoroughly miserable. For one, there is barely space to breathe, as the restaurant is trying to pack people in like sardines by adding tables anywhere there is space. There is no time to enjoy your meal because the servers have been told to turn the table over as quickly as possible. And they are charging you $45 for pasta. It’s a trap, everyone! You’re being hosed! Get out while you still can!

But people will continue to eat out. It’s just their nature. I, too, find food very romantic.

This year will be the second time I’ve had a date for Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I are doing a concert, a comedy show, and then will probably eat our weight in takeout food as we watch TV and unbutton our top pants buttons (because when he asked if I wanted to go to a restaurant, I immediately said, “No way, Jose!”). It will be nice. Love is a beautiful thing and it deserves to be celebrated. I just have a really hard time fathoming the celebration tactics we have chosen as a society.