… and why I hate Valentine’s Day so much.
Truth be told, it’s because I’ve never been able to take part in it. Or rather, had a positive experience that would refute the notion that it’s anything more than a tawdry, vulgar pseudo-holiday dreamed up by the Marquis de Sade to torment those who are miserably single [he said with a permanent scowl etched into his craggy, careworn face].
It’s a day when happy, coupled people blissfully buy into the spurious notion that there’s one day in the year when we should all be extra attracted to each other, and men go out and make grand, sweeping gestures to their girlfriends (or boyfriends) to make up for the fact of how neglectful they are towards their significant other the rest of the year.
Or maybe that’s just me and that damned speck of mirror-glass in my eye.
Yes, I’m one of those peevish, vituperative, curmudgeonly people who begrudge the fact that others are happy and having a wonderful time today, and wish they would all just collectively go fuck themselves and remember that there are those who aren’t blissfully happy; who (full disclosure) desperately wish that there were someone to brainlessly buy into this farce of a “holiday” with, and maybe for a few, fleeting hours forget how cheap, bloody and cruel life is the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year—or, on a more positive note, spend an evening with that “special someone,” maybe have a nice dinner and feel part of the universal experience of romantic love.
And, naturally, fuck each other silly at the end of the night.
Another reason that I begrudge Valentine’s Day so deeply and with such contempt is that a year ago today I woke up with the guy I spent the majority of this past year pining, crying and agonizing over. Let’s call him Seth. (No, really, that’s his name.) He was the first man I have ever been in love with, exacerbated by the fact that I knew he didn’t feel the same way about me. Shortly after our first sexual encounter, he basically told me that flat out, breaking my heart the first time. Before that, I found the idea of unrequited love silly and self-abasing. “Get over it!” you’d hear me say, doling out advice to inconsolable, anguished friends whose predicament I now find myself in. “He/She is not worth the pain you’re putting yourself through!” The funny thing about it though is that you can’t stop caring, or wishing, or hoping. It’s wholly irrational, but you hold out for the slim chance that maybe, just maybe, the veil will be drawn from their eyes and they will suddenly see you for the loving, caring, perfectly compatible person that you are.
And so Seth and I became what is affectionately referred to as fuck buddies. He was more or less using me for sex, apparently under the misguided notion that we were just having fun. Or some shit like that. And every time I hoped that maybe, just maybe, I’d get through to him; that he’d see that we could be more than friends; that, even beyond the whole sexual compatibility element, we got each others jokes, wanted the same things, had a similar approach to life and faith and intellect.
As Bobby Fisher might say, “No dice.”
This Valentine’s story concludes a few weeks ago, on my 28th birthday, with me drunk and sobbing in a friend’s apartment. Everyone had left Seth’s apartment (where the birthday party was being held), and I was too drunk to drive. Two other friends of mine live in the same building, but have a cat, and I am extremely allergic to cats, so normally this would end with us in his bed, having sex and me spending the night. It was not to end thus this time.
Seth had been on a blind date a week previous with another guy, and wasn’t sure how it was going to go, or even if it would go anywhere. My heart sank when he talked about this, but again I held out for the hope that it wouldn’t work, that it would just be another dalliance and that if I hung around long enough that he’d fall for me as I had for him. On that February 2nd though, he said that he was starting to like the guy more, and things were getting more serious between them. I was trying desperately to put a brave face on it and not let it bother me.
Flash back to earlier in the summer. I had just ended a relationship with my second serious boyfriend (let’s call him Nick) and was starting to date a new guy (we’ll call him Jack), and the night that I’d told everyone about Jack, as we were leaving, Seth asked if he could kiss me before things got too serious. And so, still being madly in love with him, we made out in the stairwell of the apartment.
Back to the night of my 28th birthday, eventually it got late and everyone decided it was time to call it an evening. It was obvious I wasn’t going anywhere, and he said I could crash there, but that I would need to sleep on the couch since he was starting a relationship with a new guy. And that’s when it began.
For weeks prior to this, I’d been agonizing over whether to confess my feelings to Seth or not. Some good friends who knew about the whole fuck buddy situation said that there was no way he couldn’t feel the same way, at least on some level, because nobody could do those things and be totally detached. Right? And I was determined not to let him be the biggest regret of my life.
So there in his apartment, drunk and enraged, I spewed everything at him that had been building over the weeks and months—how stupid I’d been to have let him play with my heart that way, how he’s not worthy of me, how I deserve better than some guy who can fuck me whenever it’s convenient for him to get his goddamn rocks off but then toss me to the curb once something “real” comes along, as if I were that cheap and disposable. On top of it all, he’s slated to be the pastor of a fucking GLBT-friendly church. I told him he’d do this again to someone else, that he’d play with some vulnerable guy’s affections who’s desperate to find a good Christian gay man, take advantage of him, and break his heart too. I called him a monster, a user, and a whole host of other awful things. No sense in being a writer if you can’t use them as a scalpel.
That night I also told him I no longer believe in God; that the church is a sham, and that he’s living, walking proof that none of it rings true. He listened quietly, tried to explain himself (which I’d have none of), and then left the room. Upon which I called my friend who lives upstairs, asked if I could crash there, and then spent the next hour sobbing on her couch. I’d hated myself for what I’d done, and hated him at the same time that I loved him.
But I also knew that the friendship, the relationship, was over.
Since the 2nd, I made it my resolution to do away with my old sexual morality, because chances are I’m never going to find a soulmate, and impersonal hookups are about as close as I’m probably going to get to the intimacy that I desperately crave. In the last few weeks I’ve had more sex than I have in my entire life, but it hasn’t filled the void, and I knew going in it wouldn’t satisfy. Maybe I’m just trying to get Seth out of my system.
So you’ll forgive me if I don’t jump on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon and celebrate the triumph of romantic love with the rest of the callow world. Last night, a guy that I’d been seeing and talking to for a few weeks decided to call things off. It was a mutual decision; I’d been sensing that we weren’t any more than just friends, but it still came as a bit of a crushing disappointment, especially considering that, even if it wasn’t going anywhere, that perhaps for once I could temporarily shut my eyes, not be alone on Valentine’s Day and believe that maybe, just maybe, love and romance really are possible. But, as usual, he turned out like all the others. This man too “disappoint me.”
I’m still waiting for someone to prove me wrong.