So, Valentine's Day. That wonderful little double-edged sword of swoon and suicide. Being coupled up doesn't necessarily determine which side you're on, but I will say that after years and years of horrible disappointment and trying to pretend like I didn't care, the very year that I really honestly didn't give two shits about it was the year that The Gentleman landed in my life. Because we'd only been together for a short time at this point last year, V-Day was celebrated in a low-key manner with a very nice dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant the Saturday before the actual holiday, and the entire dinner was spent playing "Who's Having an Affair?" as we soon discovered that only much-older men take much-younger women out for a Valentine's dinner to upscale Italian restaurants the weekend before. Furreal, yo. It must be love.
I've come to feel that, in a relationship, how you handle things like Valentine's Day says a lot about who you are as a couple. Some couples genuinely don't care. Some go whole hog. Some have an imbalance of not caring vs. whole hog and the subsequent disagreements can be quite revealing. But all are unique to that couple and who they are together.
The Gentleman and I have worked out a system of romance that suits both of us: we mark special occasions with lots of delicious food and functional gifts. And booze. Duh.
For my birthday last year, I got a new phone. Which I badly needed. It finally escorted me out of the flip phone era into the smart phone revolution, where I can text, email, blog, check the weather, and stalk celebrities (life's necessities). That phone is never not within arm's reach and may very well become another permanent part of my body, like an electronic limb. The gift was thoughtful, necessary, exciting, and practical.
For Christmas, The Gentleman invited me to Jordan. Not wanting to be outshined by this incredible gift, I gave him a wallet. WHICH HE NEEDED. It is an awesome wallet that folds nearly flat, is a very nice anthracite color, and is made of recycled materials. FUNCTIONAL AND ECO-FRIENDLY. Honestly, I'm not sure who got the better deal, here.
For The Gentleman's birthday, I went a little above and beyond functionality and opted for adventure: using a complex system of bribery and secrets, I managed to score tickets to see "Book of Mormon" in New York in April. For practicality, however, I shall pay for our train tickets.
So, for Valentine's Day, we took this game of "practical gifts" to a new level of romance: I got him a new gym bag, as his old one was falling apart and smelled like a Rio junkyard after a hard rain; and he rebuilt my precious desktop computer.
Wait for the ultimate in Valentine's nerd-dom: we rebuilt it together. As in, he ordered all the parts, and then we had a nice little rainy Saturday afternoon activity of taking apart my computer and installing the new processor and RAM.
Try to contain yourself.
As if that wasn't enough, he polished off the gift with a Linux install. Which I am still trying to figure out how to use, but I'm assured that Ubuntu is going to change my life. Once I figure it out. PRACTICAL AND LIFE-CHANGING!
Say what you will - my old computer was very, very sick, and has gotten me through a lot in the past four years. It is now reborn, a gajillion times faster, and I actually know what the inside of it looks like now. It looks...wirey. And much less dusty now that we cleaned it.
Now, onto the delicious food/booze part:
The Gentleman is a member of a local wine store that awards you points based on the extravagant numbers of bottles of wine you purchase. Which can be a very, very bad thing (in that it reveals the extravagant numbers of bottles of wine you purchase) and a very, very good thing (in that you can score a gift certificate to a local delicious restaurant after accumulating enough points.) Because I contributed heavily to said purchases, it was agreed to cash in the points for said gift certificate and use it for a delicious Valentine's dinner. The weekend AFTER V-day this year, because who even celebrates V-Day ON V-Day anymore? (Read: who the hell can get a reservation?)
In years past, I eschewed Valentine's Day for being a complete and utter waste of time. Something dreamed up by Hallmark execs for happy couples to flaunt their relationships. The only fun aspect of the holiday seemed to be the little gifts and cards I got from my family, and having something to bitch about with my single friends. In 1994, I spent Valentine's day locked in the girl's bathroom of my middle school, crying because I had thought a boy had put a flower in my locker, only to discover one of my cruel ex-best friends had done it. It was a moment of humiliation when I approached the boy in the cafeteria certain he was about to ask me to be his girlfriend, only to have him laugh at me in front of an entire table of middle-school boys, rip the flower to shreds, and throw them at me.
Sometimes it's really no wonder why I am the way I am. I mean, honestly.
And now? It seems like an excuse to do awesome things for each other, which we do anyway. The Gentleman probably would have rebuilt my computer anyway, and I probably would have gotten him a new gym bag. And we needed to cash in the wine points anyway. But why not? Why not do something nice for the other person that makes his daily life a little better? He certainly does that for me. Every single day. Rebuilding my computer is just icing on the cake.
And whenever I send a text or check my email, and whenever he pulls out his wallet to buy me more delicious wine, and whenever he hauls his significantly less-disgusting new gym bag out of a locker, and whenever I learn how to navigate Ubuntu, we think of the other person. And think about how all of these practical things just make daily life run a little smoother, a little easier, and smell a little nicer. When the real reward for me is him and, I like to think, for him is me. And I'd rather have this every single day then an extravagant show of affection just once a year.
Oh, and also, Snap is totally preggers. I'm allowed to tell people that now. That baby is gonna be all kinds of awesome. And blonde.
Damn, we're old.
Happy Valentine's Day, Glitteratis. I heart you.