So I walked to the gym, took a spin class in a room full of mirrors, made small talk with strangers and heartily patted myself on the back for having my shit so together. Then, as I went to leave, I realized my shorts—the kind with built-in underwear—had been inside-out the entire time.
The droplet of dignity I have left forbids me from posting a picture, so you’ll just have to imagine the monochromatic diaper-over-shorts-looking getup I was sporting as I furiously pedaled in place. Sigh.
Ok, guys. I need to get this off my chest: The memory that haunts me each Valentine’s Day….
First, let me set the scene. It’s the year 2000. I’m 15. We’d all just survived the new
Willennium millennium. On television, the sexual tension between Joey Potter and Pacey Witter is mounting like whoa. There is a boy band ballad for every teeny boppper emotion, and I’m totally feeling the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Dizzy Up the Girl.” Shit is getting real.
I was crippled with an absolutely devastating crush on a junior. For the better part of a year I’d devoted most of my mental energy to calculating how I could cross paths with him in the hallway. I could recite every interaction we’d ever had. I’d log on to AOL and wait and wait for him to sign in so I could strategically strike up faux casual IM conversations. I know—In the words of the oh-so-wise Pauly D: I totally stalked his life.
However, my cyber-lurking and persistence finally paid off and, before the holidays, he took me out on a date and we even kissed (my first!—I know). But then…nothing.
So Valentine’s Day arrives. I’m fastidiously working on math problems at my parents’ kitchen table to get my mind off my aching adolescent heart. I hear the doorbell ring followed by the sound of a car peeling out of our driveway before it disappeared into the suburban night.
My dad goes to the door and returns holding a single red rose between two fingers like it might actually be a dead animal or a stiff piece of feces and drops it on my algebra book (oh, Dad). The long-stemmed beaut’s attached to a note typed in red comic sans letters wishing me (me!!) a happy Valentine’s Day from a secret admirer. I’m floored. This is like two-steps from the most romantic gestures I’d ever seen (all in the movie Ten Things I Hate About You).
The next day at school I see my crush. “Did you get my gift?…” he asks. (!!!!!!!!) I maybe nod or say something or probably make a stutter-snort-giggle hybrid noise and spit a bit on myself, or maybe just breathe really heavily because I can’t believe something so wonderful and romantic and perfect is really happening. And I’m already picturing Rachel Leigh Cook playing me in the movie version of this high school fairytale romance (because even then I could recognize that Julia Stiles was the worst).
Then, before I can articulate what I’m feeling or jump into his arms, he follows up with, “Yeah, I gave a dozen roses away last night to twelve different girls!” And then maybe says something else moderately charming, but I can’t really hear because my whole world’s crashing in on me. He gave eleven. other. girls. flowers. too.
I. am. crushed.
But I was 15 and didn’t have the sense to write him off as a big, smug player right then (which—spoiler alert!—he was). It took a couple more embarrassing reality checks before that lesson stuck. But eventually it did. And eventually the sting of embarrassment and hurt disappeared, because, you know, that’s high school—If you fast forward past those awkward years, the endings are, in most cases, overwhelmingly happy (or at least not so cataclysmic).
And the guy grew up to be this painfully short Republican who’s really into cars in a way that’s like…maybe he’s compensating for something? Anyway. There you have it. My most memorable Vday. What’s yours?