The Worst Valentine’s Days I’ve Had

I liked Valentine's Day a lot as a kid. I always had fun, our school made it manditory for everybody to receive a card, and I usually ate at least five or six cookies, so by the time I came home I was feeling pretty alright. (Also, a boy I liked once accidentally gave me a Spiderman valentine with Dr. Octopus on the front that said "I can't wait to get my arms around you" and I was IN HEAVEN.) (Really, I read it over and over because I figured it was a sign. And it was! That he just wrote his name on the back of random Valentine's cards.) But then Valentine's Day started to become a little more adult.

Which was okay. By the time Valentine's Day got "romantic," I got "a part-time job," and that's usually where you could find me. But while you'd think that meant I was immune to disaster, you have obviously never read anything I've written before. (So welcome! Hello! Glad we can get to know each other this way.) So for all you fellow non-Valentine aficionados, here's some of my worst Valentine's Days ever.

1. The grade 9 semi-formal
It was the year 2000. It was my first semi-formal. I liked a guy named Sean, and assumed that when he told me he liked my friend Ashley it was code for "no, Anne, I love you." So I waited (and waited and waited) for him to ask me to the dance, because I was 14 and thought that's how things worked. But then one day, it kind of did. A mutual friend named Andrea pulled me into the stairwell and asked if I was going to the dance.

"I don't know," I responded.

"Okay, but are you or not?" 

"I think so–"

"WITH anyone?"

"Why?"

Andrea explained she had a friend who was interested, and I asked if it was Sean. She said no. I asked if it was Sean. She said no — again. She asked what I thought about her friend Steve, and I was so unhappy to find out she wasn't asking about Sean, I stopped listening and assumed she was an idiot because there was NO WAY Sean didn't want to ask me to the dance. And that's how I ended up going to the dance with Steve and Ashley ended up going with Sean.

The thing is, Ashley didn't like Sean. And four dances in, Sean didn't like Ashley — he liked Melissa, who he ditched Ashley for. Then Steve disappeared (because I kept hiding from him), and Ashley and I sat on the floor, in our ankle-length skirts, near the bathroom door, all alone, vowing never to attend a dance again. And we didn't! Just kidding — we totally did, just never on Valentine's Day.

2. I smelled like steak for 11 hours
By the time grade 12 x 2 rolled around, I was more than happy to work on Valentine's Day because I needed the money. And that's what I told myself when I "agreed" to the manditory 12-hour Valentine's Day shift at the restaurant I worked at, which I figured couldn't be that bad because if it was, it'd be illegal.

The shift started at 2 p.m., and went until I was allowed to leave. Our breaks consisted of running into the backroom and eating bread we dipped in hard butter like the true poors we were, and we were told under no circumstances were we to be honest about the wait times if "guests" asked. If you've never worked in a restaurant, you should know that the wait times are the minutes and hours until you can get a table. If you're honest about this, it's horrible. If you're not, you will get pagers thrown at you. I was fortunate enough to experience the latter — the latter, may I remind you, on a stomach full of only bread, and on my sixth, seventh, and eventually 10th hour until I finally got in trouble for singing peasant songs while wiping the menus down when it wasn't so busy. (Like worker's songs. From the Old Country, of which my family is from.) Apparently guests don't "want to hear that, Anne, seriously stop" while eating steak. And personally, I think that is their loss. I lasted three more months at that place, but I still remember the table numbers. I'm waiting to be asked to perform my songs for a bigger audience, and for the blazer I wore that night to stop smelling like steak, but some dreams just don't come true.

3. I learned I couldn't have dairy, 2006
Four pals, one heart-shaped pizza, one broken-hearted life lesson. That's all I'm ready to say.

4. Preminition, 2011
I moved into my first apartment on February 1, 2011, and within a week I had what experts (of the 1800s) would've described best as "black lung" and/or "you can't even afford to buy groceries what have you done, are you living on bread, oh my god, girl, GO HOME." Soon, February 14 descended on my apartment, and while two pals dropped off soup and orange juice (#vitamins), it signalled the beginning of the end. Already. For you see, dear friends, you will be hit with the swine flu equivalent when you can't afford anything with real sustinence. You will have to go home for a week because even your skin hurts, and you will set the benchmark for Valentine's Day one year later. When you will realize you have lost your apartment.

5. The reckoning, 2012
And so the first anniversary came and went. "You did it!" I thought to myself. "You are an actual adult!" So for the first week of February, I felt alive. I had done it. I was an apartment dweller but for real. Until I realized I had miscalculated rent. Big time. And had already tapped out the one free pass my parents were willing to give me (and by "free pass" I mean "the money I had to pay back"). In fact, I was now living on a solid $8/week after bills, and was in dire need of the $800 to pay my landlords with. I didn't have it. I didn't have anything. I tapped out my line of credit, my credit cards, and what remained of my bank account, and on . . . nothing of value at all. So I went home, cried a lot, and got sick all over again, as a sort of repeat performance of the year before.

Frankly, you don't know stress until you realize you have no money and still have to pay for shit. Until you realize your landlords don't really know English and you can't tell them you're going to be a couple of weeks late, or until you realize that you still don't know how you'd pay for the next month, and how did you go through all that money so quickly. Until you realize you can't live there anymore. And ohhh boy, then you're promoted to brand new stages of panic (please enjoy the view).

So I found myself in my hometown Starbucks on Valentine's Day, emailing my aunt and begging for advice because I knew I had no choice but to move home. I sipped on my raspberry mocha (because I deserved it, me, the financially sound person), and I accepted there was no way I could afford to live on my own anymore because I'd jumped into a debt pit of which I'd be in for a very long time. What. A. Valentine's.

But the good news is: Valentine's is just a day. And not even a romantic day. Just a literal date that, like any other, can be wonderful or the absolute worst. Would I like to work 11 hours at a steakhouse again? No thank you. I would also like to never have to realize I'm about to lose my apartment, either. But it worked out. Sean is married to a person who is not Melissa, and Ashley and I are no longer attending school dances. I also now know Lactaid is a thing that exists, and I am no longer malnurished thanks to it being two years later/another long story.

So whenever you want to prove to somebody that Valentine's Day really is just a day, you point them in the direction of these stories, and I will sing them Irish/Lithuanian work songs as proof. Then no matter what anyone does, it will seem better than what I just told you. Happy Valentine's Day, all of us! Please don't throw pagers at your host/hostess.

Tags: i hate valentine's day, Self-help, Valentine's, valentine's day, worst

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