You’re Going to Die Alone! Part One

Confession: I went to the grocery store yesterday for the first time in a month. A whole month of eating frozen burritos and ramen, of seeing if I could steal food from my coworkers without them noticing, of going out to eat and splurging on a $10 meal only if I could make it last the whole day. Why? Because I’m lazy.

Really, the truth is that I work full time, go to school, have to take care of my spoiled dog, and sometimes write stuffs, so I don’t really carve out time to cook. And good sweet baby Jesus, eating out is expensive. My point being: I finally went to buy food for myself, and when I walked into the grocery store, I was kind of shocked.

Pink hearts everywhere, shitty cream-filled chocolates, and generic teddy bears with “I wuv you” stitched onto their chests. I realized: Holy fuck. It’s Valentine’s Day this week. I’ve been so busy lately that I forgot what the beginning of February meant.

As I walked through the aisles filled with disgusting candy and wilting flowers, I couldn’t figure out why I can’t get behind the holiday. Granted, I’ve never put much stock into a holiday that bases its success directly upon the cheesy cards you receive and the over-priced dinner you eat. Yet, I have had friends in the past who have sobbed if their boyfriends forgot to mention the day. I just can’t get behind that attitude. But why?

Then, while perusing the cheese counter, it hit me like a PTSD flashback. I mean, aside from the fact that a common concern of mine is food-related—Will it go bad before I eat it all?— I’ve never minded being single. But this is the time of year when everyone tells me that I am, indeed, going to be found in my apartment, covered in dog hair, with a picture of my high school crush crumpled up in my rigor mortised hand.

And hey, who’s to say things won’t change? Maybe we’ll meet again when we’re old and we’re both ugly from years of eating Laffy Taffy and falling asleep in front of the television. (No? Just me?) But for now, history has taught me one thing: it repeats itself. Over and over and over again. So here it is: a re-visitation of my love life over the past twenty years.

Preschool

His name was Jason. (It is probably still Jason, but whatever.) We were four, and we had a torrid love affair. We would play Batman on the playground and coordinate our outfits. We even kissed—on the lips! But one day, this new girl, Stephanie, started at our school. She had strawberry blonde ringlet curls, and she always wore dresses.

Jason and I had been together for A Long Time (at least the first half of the school year), so I wasn’t threatened. That is, until one day, I saw him holding her hand on the playground. I marched right over to her and cold-clocked her in the face. I got into trouble, and Stephanie and Jason carried on until we all graduated and went on to kindergarten.

Second Grade

Dylan. We knew each other from forced play-dates so our moms could drink coffee and gossip. He had soulful blue eyes, and my heart would jump whenever I saw his blonde bowl-cut walking towards me. I bought Power Rangers Valentine’s Day cards and saved the biggest one for him.

I wrote, “You are the White Ranger to my Pink Ranger.” I snuck it into his desk in the morning, hopeful. Later, I watched him repurpose it and give it to another girl in our class. In the corner, watching, I rage-crushed my candy hearts into a fine powder. “U r mine” my ass.

Sixth Grade

Middle school is where you get a boyfriend, right? RIGHT? Wrong. Big-nosed Matt. Awkward and nasally. This is a sure thing, I thought to myself. Granted, I had grown out and not up yet, and my glasses were always broken. But still. Easy target. We shared art supplies, and he even touched my hand. We even lived down the street from one another.

One day, he rode past my house on his bike. This is it! I thought. I ran outside to say hi. Instead of a smooth “Hello” though, I slipped on the grass, lost my footing, and slid on my ass all the way down to the sidewalk. We stared at each other for a moment, then he rode away. We never talked again.

Tenth Grade

Oh, Tim. Or John. Tim-John. John-Tim. He was The Kid Who Changed His Name. He had creepily-long fingernails, and no, he did not play guitar. We sat in his front room and watched Dawn of the Dead. Now, maybe for some girls, that would be totally awesome, but I have trouble even watching that episode of Family Matters where Carl has to stop a bad gun with a gun. I do not do violence.

Well, at any rate, I was supposed to be doing homework at my friend’s house. When my parents called and said they were on their way to pick me up, I panicked. As I was leaving, he grabbed me, digging his nails into my arm. He leaned forward and kissed me. Well, it was more like: he put his mouth on top of mine and sucked. But it kind of counts.

We went to the movies together the next week . His dad drove us. When I got into the back seat, he went to sit in the front until his dad nudged him and said, “Sit with the girl, Timmy.” We sat in silence until we got to the theater and he awkwardly offered to buy my ticket.

Later that week, he called me while I was walking home with my friends. While they were screaming in the background, I told him quietly, “This isn’t going to work. You call too much. Bye.” We had Geometry together for the rest of the year and didn’t look each other in the eye ever again.

Senior Year of College

This one was special. I saw him across the lecture hall one day, months before we ever exchanged cursory glances. His name? Alex. I thought his tank-top-in-the-winter and flat brim hat look was so beautiful, but it was all over for me when he went on a diatribe about Columbus Day. Eventually, we went to coffee together. His deep voice and love of French press paired perfectly with my pigeon-toed Birkenstock-wearing awkwardness.

We carried on for a few months. He would even make me breakfast. I mean, no one made slightly-burnt toast like this kid. And yet, when we spent time together on the Fourth of July, he and his friends started lighting fireworks. At first, they were just the lame little firecrackers, but eventually they brought out a really big one.

Just to preface this story: I have a severe phobia of loud noises. I can’t stand thunderstorms or fireworks. Even the sight of a gun makes me break out in a cold sweat. So he and his friend, Brad, lit a big one without telling me. I was talking to Brad’s girlfriend, Chelsea, when it went off. I dropped my drink, shoved Chelsea out of my way and ran, screaming, down the alley behind his house.

He found me an hour later, crouching near a tree. He was carrying my purse and my jacket. I took it sheepishly and said goodbye. The next time we saw each other, he laughed and mouthed, “Boom.” But there was no going back. The damage had been done.

****

So, kids, the moral of the story is: if you’re as awkward and weird as me, get a dog and maybe some Lean Cuisines. They’re perfectly portioned for your life, so you don’t have to worry about finding moldy tomatoes in your fridge. And as for why Valentine’s Day itself sucks, well, that’s for another time.

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