I suppose in the days approaching Valentineís Day, it is only natural that Iíve got love and romance on the brain. Granted, itís only natural for me, because I never learn. Other people arenít into masochism. At any rate, itís that time of year again, when I start to doodle hearts whenever Iím on hold, or pay extra attention to the letter I land on when I twist the stem off the apple, or stab pins repeatedly and with frenzied purpose into a voodoo doll. Normal stuff.
The thing is, for all that I love the possibilities of Valentineís Day, I would be lying if I told you I was a true romantic. God knows, if you asked me, and I had no time to think about it, Iíd swear up and down that Iím a lover of the classic romantic gesture. And Iíd believe it, too, which is the most startling part of it all, because God knows, if you then asked me for an example, Iíd be well stuck.
I donít think I was always like this; I donít think romantic gestures have always made my skin crawl. I have a feeling though, that it has to do with the fact that Iím my motherís daughter, and I am most assuredly turning into her, the most unsentimental woman on the face of the earth. And itís silly, because I want to be romantic. I want to love it all. I want some guy to go crazy with the sonnets and flowers and I would love it if it didnít make my stomach churn. You know? That would be nice, I think.
About a hundred years ago, I was dating a Nice Italian Boy who was fond of buying me the world. The poor sod worshipped the ground I walked on and I, quite stupidly*, in the name of romance, let him. We dated for a couple of years, and the first six months was just a mess of flowers and cards and gold and, Jesus, did I mention the flowers?
*Honestly, is being on a pedestal ever fun for more than a day or so? Is there anyone over the age of 21 who still welcomes that kind of thing? The only thing that happens is that you turn into a raging bitch and then, if you have even any scruples, the guilt crops up, which in turn leads to resentment toward the guy for making you feel so miserable, and all he wanted to do was buy you yet another outfit, or a stereo, or something.) (Oh, my God! Maybe thatís why so many of us go after the asshats that donít give a damn about us!)
When we started dating, I had taken a year off school, and was working for my father in his trattoria. In those first few months, I loved it that he called me every day at the restaurant, every day at 10:15, when he got his break. Every morning, without fail, even if we had just seen each other the night before, the phone would ring at exactly 10:15, and I found it just charming. And let me tell you, my father found it charming, too. Let me tell you.
So, one day, at about nine in the morning, Princess Time struck me an almighty blow, as it was wont to do in those days. I was no good to my father, doubled up in pain in the kitchen as I was, with my fist in my mouth so the customers wouldnít hear me whimpering, so he sent me home to scream and barf and down a lot of Tylenol 3, which was the usual monthly practice for me. And home I went, to do exactly that.
I guess it must have been about noon, maybe 12:30. My doorbell rang, and I sluggishly slapped at the alarm clock, and picked up the phone, and looked around kind of confused, because Tylenol 3 works quite well. It took a minute and a few more ding-dongs from the door bell before I finally made it to the door. And there he was, in a grand rush because he had no lunch hour left, and he still had to make it back to work, but he called the restaurant and found out I wasnít feeling well, so had rushed out to buy 12 long stem roses for me. And there I stood, stonataíd out of my head on enough codeine to tame the beast inside me, awed and totally in love.
ďTwelve long stem roses!Ē I gushed on the phone to all my friends when I woke up again 3 hours later. ďIn a long white box, with ribbon and a card, and oh, theyíre gorgeous!Ē I was totally in love, with a boyfriend who was utterly devoted to me. It was oh, so romantic and I couldnít have been happier.
Later on that evening, when my cramps had died down, and I was flush with Tylenol and rather smug love, I showed my mother how romantic my boyfriend was, how sweet it was for him to spend all that money and rush to make me happy.
ďSo let me get this straight,Ē she said flatly. ďHe gave you flowers because you got your period?Ē
And that, my friends, is what happened to me. That is why, no matter how much I try to make my brain deny it, it canít help but see the fine, fine line between romance and ridiculous.
This does not bode well for the guy who eventually holds a boombox over his head for me.
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