Issue February 11, 2014

Bar Belle: Be My Valentine

I used to look forward to Valentine’s Day as a child. It was the one time of year I could find out what the boys in my class thought about me. At the instruction of our teacher, we would create a large envelope-like mechanism that would collect our classmates’ valentines. My heart raced every time someone approached mine and inserted their heartfelt Pound Puppy-themed holiday card.

Of course, the biggest thrill of Valentine’s Day was picking out the theme you wanted your own cards to be. I recall cards adorned with the likes of Donald Duck and his buddy Goofy. I remember a few years of getting grumpy Garfields, downtrodden Charlie Browns, smurfy Smurfs, heroic Spidermans, ironic Ziggys and sassy Bat Girls. Scratch N Sniff valentines were all the rage until He-Man, Transformers, Madballs and Garbage Pail Kids made them seem like child’s play.

I actually kept my classmates’ valentines for years, perhaps as proof that, for one day, I was validated. Sure, it was just an assignment each of us was required to complete — like dissecting a frog or memorizing state capitals. It’s not like any of my peers actually wanted me as their valentine — I was just happy they knew my name and spelled it without an H.

While the front was full of hearts, and unicorns, and puppy love, and demanded I be the giver’s one and only, on the back was simply his printed first name etched in pencil — crayon, if you were lucky. Did he really mean it? What do you have to do if you’re somebody’s valentine? Hold hands in gym class? Eww, maybe I don’t want to be anyone’s valentine. I know Mom wouldn’t approve. And my brothers would make fun of me.

I certainly was careless in doling out valentines for people I had no feelings for. I hoped the nerd wouldn’t read into it and want to hang out during recess. I hoped the smelly girl wouldn’t want to be my new best friend. I hoped the cute boy wouldn’t call me names again on the bus.

For one day, there was a truce in the classroom. For one day, each of us had to acknowledge and appreciate one another. For one day, love was tangible and celebrated. And we got chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

• • •

Since grade school, my Valentine’s Day celebrations have been hit or miss — mostly miss. In my 20s, it was usually just an excuse to wear black, get drunk and downplay the idea of love and its accoutrements. When you’re single, it’s expected of you to lash out at a holiday that celebrates couplehood. And when you’re in a relationship, it’s expected of you to make the day special, to be on your best behavior and spend money on flowers and chocolate and lingerie and dinner and anal beads.

Yes, this frivolous holiday can be hell for both solos and cups alike — unless you’re with someone who echoes your sentiments. That someone could be your best friend, and you could spend the night bar hopping and making bucket lists and buying drinks for a tall, dark stranger at the end of the bar. That someone could be you, and you could treat yourself to Dragon King’s Daughter takeout and a “Girls” marathon. That someone could be your boo, and you can both reminisce and laugh about your worst Valentine memories over a bottle of shiraz and a block of cheese.

Whoever it may be, just make sure he knows how to spell your name correctly — and when he scribbles his name on the back of that My Little Pony valentine, he means every word of what’s on the front. And make him buy dinner. That’d be nice.

Drunk Texts of the Week
• She’s been hittin the tit whiskey for a long time
• I’m sorry I humped your head this morning
• Im not drunk, Im just weird
• It’s between ass cancer, coat hanger abortions and me time

Send your drunk texts to shavens@leoweekly.com. My blog is at barbelle.leoweekly.com. Word.