For some, February 14thmight as well be called “Sorry-You-Are-Unlovable Day.”
It is the annual event loners celebrate by default when Valentine’s Day rolls around like the hemorrhoid of holidays it is. Honestly, I’m surprised there isn’t a bleak, dark corner of the Hallmark aisle already dedicated to us.
I could be petty and jealous and secretly hate everyone in a relationship on this one particular day of the year.* But it would take energy I totally lack to lift my middle finger and wave it about.
So, instead of moping about being unlucky in love, I am coming up with my sure-fire Emergency Preparedness List of getting through the Cupid-Vomit-Thong-Up-The-Butt-Overpriced-Hormone-Drenched Extravaganza that is February 14th. Feel free to add suggestions.
THE SINGLE PERSON’S ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY VACCINATION SCHEDULE:
Shower and put on the good underwear. You know the ones–breathable, big enough to cover your dignity and not low crawl up your ass when you walk. **
Drink something fizzy and pink with an umbrella. Now, the only umbrellas I own are the collapsible kind that are half-broken, so one side droops down to guide the water down your collar. If this means I’m going to look like a mad woman with a Shirley Temple addiction, too bad.
Buy those raspberries. I never buy fruit out of season as it is an unjustified expense. Screw that. I deserve me some fuzzy, deliciousness.***
If you want flowers or candy–buy them. But I highly encourage you do it on February 15th when it all goes miraculously on sale.
Massage chairs at the mall take credit cards. Ten dollars will make you forget about all your troubles–at least for a little while. Wear a mask if you are a moaner.
Indulge. Read a book. Actually focus on the words and ignore that weird noise in the other room. I’m sure whatever it was can be replaced…or will heal.
Heat blankets in the dryer (or stove, whatever) and then curl up with them just before you open that book. It’s totally worth the fire hazards if you lose track of the time. Trust me. I know. Some books are worth dying for.
Plan an escape from dull reality with friends and keep it. It doesn’t have to be this day. Just knowing you are going out with people you like is a joy. It gives you something to look forward to outside of yourself. Speaking of self…
Love the one you’re with. Take that however you want. Just don’t post any incriminating pictures on Facebook.
Be kind to yourself. Take back the day. It’s not just for lovers any more.
You know that ideal world where everyone is nice and caring and thinks about what you need? (No? Me neither.) Make sure you take time be that person for yourself for this one day. Be your own valentine.
(And if anyone snickers at you when they catch you hugging yourself–punch them, hard, and tell them it was a love tap from me.)
And if you have your own recommendations for surviving this un-celebration, please leave a note below. It’s a cold, cruel world for single people on February 14th. It’s good to know we’re not alone.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*Why limit myself to just one day? I prefer to spread my loathing out in a nice, even layer throughout the year. Like a bitter chocolate frosting that burns upon contact.
**I may have to go shopping…I’m not sure I still own any good underwear.
***Please do not take this as an invitation to insinuate a smutty association between raspberries and men’s genitalia. I’d like to eat them again one day. What? No! Of course I mean the fruit!! What did you think I meant? It’s people like you who are ruining the internet.
————————–You Read This Far Bonus_______________________
Please check out Jezebel.com and all the less safe Anti-Valentine’s cards I didn’t choose from. You’re welcome.
Or, if you want to walk on the wicked side, I found this little number on Disturbed Stranger: I Killed Cupid
Warning, this isn’t the kind of gentle humor you are used to on my playground. This is dark-side-of-the-moon, do you [expletive deleted] your mother with that mouth? kind of dark. In fact, NEVER google Dead Cupid. It was a disturbing journey all around.
For Christmas, I asked Santa to give me a break. A break from the relentless needs of Autism parenting and the excuse to overindulge in selfish pursuits. Santa came through big time in the form of a weekend getaway!* I randomly pick January 20th as the date for an overnight camp where people more responsible than me will keep my genetic contribution to the world safe for forty-eight hours. I had not realized it would coincide with inauguration day.
It’s the long-awaited Friday—finally!—I drop my beloved child at camp and escape like they might try to hand him back. Like a Baskerville hound baying for blood, I’m off! I have no obligations to anyone except myself and the goal of being blissfully distracted for two whole days. The difficulty is picking just one activity—so I don’t. First there will be a little buff and polishing and then dinner and a movie with friends. Absolutely nothing is wrong in my perfect little world. Life is bliss!
This works really well…until I sit in the massage chair at the nail salon. I’m punching the lower-back Shiatsu settings trying to relax while someone else deals with my winter-callused feet, when, blaring overhead, comes the familiar notes of a military band frothing with patriotic fervor. Aghast, I realize they have tuned the tv to the pomp and circumstance of President (*urp*) Donald Trump’s inauguration.**
I try to hint to my manicurist that anything else—The Shopping Channel, Urkel reruns, anything—would be preferable. She just smiles in that way the technicians do when they either can’t understand a word you are saying and/or are trying to suppress a gag reflex at the amount of skin sloughing off your mangy feet. I’m stuck, forced to listen to the horror unfolding with the insistence of all nightmares you just can’t wake up from no matter how hard you pinch yourself. Before long, my psyche is bruised.
The incessant and inane commentaries about the Big D’s faux humility of acceptance of office scrape against reactivated nerve endings—it’s like a scab being ripped from a raw wound. All the seething loathing and despair come oozing to the surface.
Since the election, I have erected an information force field—a giant bubble of reality denial. I try very hard not to read, see, or listen to any of the goings-on related to the transition of power. I avoid the bile of exchanges on Facebook because there is no Epipen big enough for certain toxic allergens. I am a political ostrich and have my head firmly wedged…somewhere…in an attempt to huddle beneath an illusion of safety.
But the seal on the bubble isn’t inviolate. Facts seep through. Reporters are positively gleeful about delivering devastating blows:
“This disastrous news, just in…
“The Big D wants a climate change denier as the head of the EPA.”
“The Big D offers Secretary of State position to oil magnate, Comrade-in-Chief Tillerson in bed with Moscow.”
“Dolores Umbridge to head Department of Education…”
It’s like being trapped in a car heading for a huge crap pile and there’s nothing you can do but brace yourself for the stinky impact. Try as I might, I can’t hide from the impending wreckage.
I escape the salon with beautiful toes and abused ear-holes. I scarper next door to join friends for a Chinese feast. There is little in the world that cannot be improved with a really good duck sauce. In fact, I think 2017 will be the Year of the Rangoon, for me.
It is awesome to get out with girlfriends and yack-yack face, while divvying up entrees. This all-estrogen experience is enhanced by its rarity. The food is great, the friends are delightful. Conversation flows. Three admit they can’t make the movie afterward because they are attending The Women’s March the next day in Lansing. They are bubbling with enthusiasm over the prospect—eager to represent their concerns about our political direction. Opinions are voiced. The choice to carry signs or not is discussed. Some express regrets that they have other commitments. I, however, am silent.
There it is, that subtle recognition that I lack something when it comes to addressing the concerns in the world around me. Among a group of intelligent, well-educated, driven females, I am the odd woman out. I feel no urge to march. No enthusiasm for protesting. No drive to join arms with other nasty women to demand equality or any other rights. It has been an indelible character fault—my honest recognition that I do not possess great ambitions to enact change other than to wish, weakly, that things were different. It is the note of discord that harps at me even as I enjoy my night out:
“Is it me? Am I part of the problem?”
I want to have fun. I want to be wild and carefree. Right now, the world needs movers, can-doers, outspoken activists to address the growing problems with our divisiveness and crumbling American ideals. Other women want to go be the change that rearranges the world. Me? I want to go see Hidden Figures and be entertained.
Dinner breaks up, and four of us split off to hit the nearby theater. We underestimate the popularity of the film. Perhaps there are more people moved by threat of civil rights abuses inspiring people to go see a film about African American women making sine waves during the 1960’s space race than we realized? Whatever the reason, just as I step up to purchase tickets, the movie sells out.
We resolve to find it showing elsewhere. Cell phones to the rescue, in seconds we locate the nearest next showing. We make it with time to spare for bathroom breaks and a close encounter with overpriced snacks.
The film is a poignant reminder of how much things seem to have changed in fifty plus years. As the characters of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn parade the injustices rampant in Virginia during an era of supposed desegregation, this viewer can’t help but compare these struggles to ongoing racist discontent in the current tide of anti-everything-I-stand-for sentiment.
In Hidden Figures, the camera marks the continued segregation of a south in the American sixties. Signs on buildings are marked with “Colored” versus “White” entrances while restrictions on employment, library access, and toilets underscore the indignities for persons of color in an uber-white world. The movie is an ugly reminder of a future I’m coming to dread.
Today, hateful murmurs on Twitter and Facebook rants reveal, even revel in, blatant homophobia, anti-feminist bile, and a self-satisfied, Christian-Right America centrism which cheers for the deportation of people of Muslim faith and encourages wholesale murder akin to shades of 1940’s Holocaust. Watching Hidden Figures, I am encouraged and inspired. It shows the victory of those who challenge and beat a system stacked unfairly and overwhelmingly against them. However, when I leave the theater, I am reminded of the forces daily rewinding what progress has been made.
While we sleep, the government moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In one swift, hostile, late-night legislative assault, health care is in danger of being erased for 20 million people. Steps are taken to undermine the FHA regulations that protect mortgage insurance rates that help low-income people afford homes. The Big D threatens to repeal all of the grounds gained in an eight-year Obama presidency. If we pretend that he’ll stop there, that is level of delusion we can’t afford. I should be galvanized by the imminent destruction of the values I hold dear. And yet…
Last Friday wasn’t about inducting a virulent corruption into our government—it was all about me. And ME wanted dessert.
Staggering out of the theater at 10:30, we wander to the nearby MildThings restaurant for ice cream with deep fried, cinnamon-sugar tortilla strips. We’re overfed, highly-sugared, middle-aged women on the loose. Here us roar!***
The PYT (Pretty Young Thang) waitress endures our revelries not even encouraging us to leave when we ask “When’s closing time?”
“Oh, you’re fine.” PYT waves a perfectly manicured hand at us, pooh poohing our concerns. “We don’t close until 2:00 a.m.”
But for us, the coach has turned back into a pumpkin and our glass slippers are killing us. We wrap up our giddy exchanges, hug madly in the cool air outside the restaurant, and make our escape.
I snuggle into my bed as the clock turns 12:30 a.m. It is a new day. A darker day, perhaps, but it is a day I am free to make the choices I can live with.
I am not a rebellious soul. I prefer a quiet life, out of the confluence of bad history come to repeat itself all over my constitution. But now is not the time to stick one’s head in a bucket of denial—no matter how comforting that existence might be in the short run. We will have to keep our eye on the Hidden Costsof a Big D administration; otherwise, the next coming detraction might just strip our civil liberties entirely. And that preview is a pretty grim prospect to behold.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*The role of Santa was played by family and friends who have looked on in horror at admired my parenting on the edge-of-catastrophe. Thank you to all who sponsored this get-away weekend.
**I have to suppress my gag reflex whenever I put those words together. At least in one respect, this dick is just too much to swallow.
Sunday, I’m staring into the abyss—the bottomless well of muck and despair that is my bathroom sink. I’m about to yell at my son for his new hobby (filling the sink to watch it empty) when I realize the drain plug is open; the water just isn’t creating the tidal spout of happiness that indicates it is rushing back to the sea from whence it came. Crap on a cracker, the sink is plugged up.
Thankfully, I am not a completely helpless female when it comes to home repair. My son’s propensity for investigating all things mechanical means I have had to learn how to put doorknobs back on, realign toilet fixtures* and learn how to avert or avenge myriad other small household disasters. I am a woman with tools, hear me roar.
On my knees in the bathroom, I crawl under the cabinet to disconnect the thingamajiggy from the whosie-whatsit that causes the stopper to move up and down.** Then I can pull up the drain plug and see what the problem is. There will now be a brief theatrical reenactment. Those of you with genteel dispositions may want to leave the room.
The Downstairs Bathroom Players Present: The Creature
Woman: “Okay, here we go. I’ll just pull this drain plug out of the way so we can see what we’re looking at…and…oh… Oh my god. Please dear merciful heaven, what is that thing?”
[Runs to phone, dials frantically.]
Woman: “Hello? Is this MacDonald’s Emergency Plumbing? Help! There’s some sort of black, slimy thing living in my sink! Do you do exorcisms? You do? Hurry, please!”
PP: “I understand your bathroom has been possessed?”
Woman: “Yes, it’s in there.”
[Plumber/priest waves holy plunger, recites the plumber’s prayer.]
PP: “In nomine Padres, Domino’s pizza, and spirits of cactus—tequila be thy name—I call you up from the depths of the p-trap. The foul odors of hell reveal your wickedness. I cast you out, demon. Be gone from here and never return.”
Woman: “Is…is it safe to enter?”
PP: “Run, save yourself.”
[Fade to black]
Okay, so maybe I like to exaggerate a bit. But, truthfully, the stuff that came out of the sink was an unholy nightmare—a year’s worth of hair, dirt and soap congealed into a slimy plug that blocked all but a tiny aperture for water to pass through. It looked like the plumbing had caught my cold and was congested with grey phlegm.
As a parent, I have had to learn to take all manner of gross things with equanimity: booger eating, vomit hurling, and fecal fixation. You name it, I’ve handled it. But I’ll admit, I did hurk a bit seeing what was coming out of that pipe. So, here’s where I confess that I am a bit more girly than I really want to be. Dozens of feminists reading this will drop their heads into their hands mortified by this admission, but, if I had a man in my life who came with a set of tools, I’d have been on the phone to him before touching that nasty mess. This brings me to today’s topic: What does it mean to be girly in today’s culture?
When I was young (back when dinosaurs roamed the land), being girly meant more than liking the color pink, wearing make-up and a fondness for chick flicks. It meant that you were weak-wristed when you threw a ball, that you screamed when you saw a mouse and you couldn’t do math. It implied all sorts of helplessness and was a catch-all excuse for avoiding dirty, hard manual labor. When I was eighteen, you could have accused me of being girly and the label would have been appropriate. But then, I joined the Army and I began to see how accepting that definition was a cop-out.
I was on DIC duty one day and it was just about as pleasant as the acronym implies. We were given the task of hauling bags of salt from a truck bed to a shed about ten feet away. The bags weighed about sixty to seventy pounds each. As luck would have it, assigned to DIC duty that day were two men, me, and about ten other women. The sergeant in charge sent one of the guys to go count money at the officers club—a nice, easy task. That left the one guy and eleven women to haul that shit stuff. The guy set to, lugging a crunchy bag on his shoulder and heaving his way to the shed. I could just barely lift one and it wasn’t long before I started to tire. Another woman and I worked with the guy to get the job done…and the rest of the women stood around and didn’t even make a token effort to help us. There were a few
mumbled excuses: “I can’t lift it.” “It’s too heavy.” Two women working together could have helped out; but none of the slackers did…and no one called them on it.*** After that day, I have done my best not to make excuses or blame my limitations on my gender. My failings are my own. But then, so are my victories.
Faced with the terrible prospect of a backed up sink, did I succumb? Did I fold in the face of failure? No! Wearing my pink rubber gloves, and suppressing my gag reflex, I tackled the drain monster. It fought a hard fight, but I took that mother down. No priest or plumber required. Now that’s what I call being girly!
The rushing waters of victory…
Asterisk bedazzled footnotes:
*I really don’t think saying “I know how to handle a sticky ball-cock” is wise.
**I can fix it, but I can’t always describe it. For those of you who absolutely must know, I was removing the drain plug adjustment arm by unscrewing and taking off the ball valve from the sink trap. There, was that any better? No? I didn’t think it would be.
***In defense of female soldiers, I saw an equal number of women who buckled down and tried to do whatever was set in front of them. I’d like to think I was one of them.