Thursday, February 14, 2008

Becoming [a] Hopeless [Romantic]

21 Valentine's Days. 0 Valentines. It would be stupid of me to think for a second that I'm the only one. God knows the world is full of lonely girls, almost relieved to be working on Valentine's Day, rather than sitting alone at home, eating peanut butter with a spoon and watching the last week of Oprah on TiVo.

This is one of many sad options that awaits me once I get off work.

And what a place to work! A movie theater. Showing 2 romantic comedies, no less. And I'm the one selling the tickets, so all smiling, blissful faces must first go through me. Seeing the couples is hard, kind of: they're cute and cuddly and the boy is paying like he's supposed to and willingly (we'll assume, for the sake of argument) seeing a Chick Flick, just for the chance to spend the pinkest day on God's meant-to-be-green Earth with his special honey. These are the older couples — ones my age and up. They don't bother me too much. No, they're nice and I wish them a chlamydia-free evening of love. No, no, the problem, dear children o' mine, is the 15-year-old "couples" who are on quadruple dates, calling home to make sure they're allowed to see a movie past 10 pm. These people make me sick.

Where was my movie-date on Valentine's Day in high school? Where was my greasy, teenage boyfriend? Why did I never get the chance to get home late after making out with a boy in a steamy car and smelling like cigarette smoke and booze while my father waits by the front door with a loaded shotgun?? Or even now, for that matter. What's up, Universe? Why the injustice? Haven't I been a good person — honest and fair? A good friend to animals and smushy babies and mean, undeserving strangers? These little hormone problems make me feel far older and beyond my years than I truly am; they make me realize that in the 6 years since I was 15, the development in my romantic life has been... not. And these prickly little teens probably aren't even virgins anymore.

Damn, cruel world.

But even the teen-fuck maniacs weren't the most unsettling part of my evening. On the contrary, I grasped desperately for the humor of their youth in romance, knowing that chlamydia is likely not far off in their future. And I hear the Herpes Fairy has no patience for midriff-tees and saggy pants. I'm just sayin'...

No, the unsettling part came in the form of girls — several of them — all separate, none of them together, arriving at different times and for different movies. Girls my age. Girls alone. Girls who are spending this Valentine's Day by themselves, enjoying a cute, happy movie... alone. And they arrived at my Box Office with smiles on their faces and a sincere goodbye of "Happy Valentine's Day." I imagine that after leaving me, they each went inside and bought a small popcorn and a small soda — enjoying their outing to its fullest and yet still not wanting the over-priced movie-snack to go to waste.

The only difference between me and these girls was that I was working and they were not.

They were not depressing. They didn't seem depressed. And I realized: That's me. I'm not depressed anymore. After 21 years of being genuinely alone, depression has almost disappeared. In its place is the resignation into hopelessness.

I saw myself in these girls, knowing that going to a movie alone never makes me feel lonely, and I do not get depressed at not having a boy to take me. But there is a pain there. And if these girls are anything like me, I saw that pain in them. 'Cause I felt it on my own body: the muscles under my cheekbones that are sore from forcing smiles onto a face that feels as though it rarely so much as grins; the dry skin and mutilated cuticles on hands that have forgotten what it feels like to be pampered, just for the sake of feeling and being pretty; a tragic ache up my back that comes from stasis and the physicalization of apathy.

More than anything, in seeing these reflections of myself, I'm reassured that this compliance with being alone doesn't mean we don't want to find Love. On the contrary, we probably want and deserve it more than anyone else. And without having any way of knowing, there is the feeling that we would never take advantage of it or abuse it or misunderstand it if it were finally to come our way and take us in its arms.

That is what makes a hopeless romantic. We want romance, we want love so hopelessly that we become conditioned to bide our time until it finds us.

But in the meantime, I only wish that all those girls could have found each other and enjoyed a Large Combo and chocolate candies together.


  1. I think this was incredibly well written Stace.

    And the only difference between you and me this Valentine's Day: you were working, while I was in class for 6 straight hours.


  2. yes very well written.
    I miss you very much and you must know that if i was there i would do everything in my power to make you NOT work on v-day and share a large combo with me at the movies.
    I love you!