Okay, maybe not the worst, but at least the most interesting.
It was February 14th (duh). I had just turned 21 that year. My birthday is February 3rd, and my roommate’s was February 18th, so I was milking her DD status as much as possible over those two weeks. A friend of ours, who was also not yet 21, suggested doing a “Galentine’s Day” dinner, as they were both single, and invited me along too.
I wasn’t quite single that year, actually. I had just started seeing a guy a few weeks beforehand. The only date I remember from those weeks was going to see The Green Hornet together, which proved to be a surprisingly great date movie. On Valentine’s Day, we met up on campus and he gave me a box of chocolates and a Hallmark card that said “I really like you,” clearly designed for the couples who have the misfortune of hitting Valentine’s Day before they’ve said the L-word. I’d never had a boyfriend over Valentine’s Day before, so I felt like I was getting access to an exclusive club. I had finally passed the velvet rope into the fabled realms of chocolate and fancy dinners and silly romantic gestures, except for one minor detail. My boyfriend was scheduled to work that, and he couldn’t get out of his shift.
So, I was technically single for the night. My roommate and her friend decided it would be fun to go out for dinner, instead of eating on campus, so she made us reservations at an Italian restaurant in Pittsford.
An Italian restaurant.
On Valentine’s Day.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant where every single table is a two-top? All occupied by madly-in-love couples? Who are all staring at you semi-confused and slightly judgmental? Cause that’s not really the best scenario for your “screw Valentine’s Day” dinner.
The smiling hostess led us to the only three-top in the entire restaurant. My roommates sat down, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we’re sitting in a sea of romance. I realized that everyone in the restaurant thinks that we either have poor decision making skills (true), are kind of dumb (I hope not true), or are in a lesbian open relationship (definitely not true).
Now, I’m not usually the type to care about what people think of me, but I am the type to feel incredibly socially awkward, which this situation definitely qualified as. It wasn’t even that people kept staring or anything, I was just hyper aware that we were the only non-couple in building. Like when you wear brown socks with black shoes, or something. Most people won’t give a shit, but you know it looks weird, and it bugs the shit out of you.
As we looked at our menus, a beautiful realization dawned on me. I’m 21 now. I’m an adult. So I proceeded to do what any rational adult would do in this situation, and ordered a carafe of red wine to deal with my awkwardness. A carafe was about half a bottle, I think, which I would be able to handle no problem now, but I didn’t really drink much before I turned 21, so I proceeded to get drunk, or at least majorly tipsy.
I learned two lessons that night. The first one was that alcohol is a great way to deal with uncomfortable social situations. The second was that making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day is dumb. Which, I know, is terribly cliche, but whatever. Some year you’re gonna have the cheesy romantic candlelight dinner, and some year you’re gonna be sitting at home with a bottle of wine and Down With Love. Hell, the only “real” Valentine’s Day date I’ve had was when the guy I was seeing and I timed our lunch breaks at the same time and met at the sports bar at the mall and shared some mozzarella sticks. (Literally, a cheesy Valentine’s Day.) So it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a date, or it’s your first time celebrating the holiday, or you think Hallmark is the devil incarnate. Just do what makes you happy, whether it’s a grand gesture of love, or having a dance party by yourself, or stealing an hour of your day to have a beer together. It doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy it.
Whatever you do, though, do NOT go to an Italian restaurant unless you are a couple. So, I guess, three lessons.
(Oh, and two months later, I found out my boyfriend was gay.)