Girlfriend and I had the Conversation a few weeks after we started going steady.
“Christmas?” I said.
“No,” she said.
“Me neither. New Year’s?”
“Ok good, birthdays?” I ask.
“Remember to wish me. No gifts, maybe dinner, nothing fancy,” she said.
“Same. Valentine's Day?”
The consensus was clear: neither of us were big on Days. We were united by our common disenfranchisement with the consumerist practice of hyping up dates into ‘days’, and were destined to live happily –if frugally- ever after. Except I was lying through my teeth. It was one of those white lies you say when you’re still trying to get into someone’s pants (“Birthdays? Oh, who gives a fuck, right?”), but it had somehow mothballed into a philosophy. Besides how many men readily accept they’re suckers for romance?
Which is why this conversation with my boss would be especially difficult. After fretting for weeks about how to bring up the topic of doing something special for Valentine’s Day, I found out a few hours before Cinderella-time that Girlfriend is in fact on suspension for the next couple of days for picketing her employer’s annual ball. The placard she help up outside the venue seemed to indicate that she thought a 25th anniversary bash for a multi-million dollar company was a tad bourgeois. Or as she worded it, succinctly as always: “DIE, CAPITALIST CUNTS!”
“So why do you want leave the next couple of days again?” asks my boss.
“Well my girlfriend’s some sort of political ninja, and it’s Valentine’s Day and…”
“I see,” he says, “so?”
I look at him for signs of smugness, of bastardry, but he appears genuinely puzzled. Fuck, I realize with a shock, Boss-man is a true blue alpha male. He really doesn't get Valentine's Day! He's who I pretend to be to get laid! I man up and try to explain.
"See Boss-man," I say, "when a man loves a woman..."
"Well, sometimes when a man loves a woman, you pick up... infections."
"Like an STD?" he grimaces.
"Yeah. It's Girlfriend. I think she's cheating on me."
"Wow," he says, "what a bitch."
HEY! Enough is enough. NObody calls Girlfriend a bitch.
"No, no," I say, "it's not her fault. I think I might suck a little in bed."
"Well that makes sense," he says, "she didn't seem the type."
"Yeah," I say, and take in the scene again.
"Boss-man," I say, "why's your finger on the intercom?"
Guffaws and laughter and hoots from across the office erupt through the intercom and fill Boss-man's cubicle as he says, smugly, bastardly, "There are two things you never admit to as a man: not making your woman happy in bed, and..." -the smug bastard is laughing so hard he can't even complete the sentence- "celebrating Valentine's Day."
Two days paid leave in hand, I go to Girlfriend's place to lick my wounds and die a slow, unmanly death. But Girlfriend is in no mood for inactivity. "Come on to the terrace," she says, "let's fire up a joint and chill." I slip into my sickday pajamas and trundle over to the terrace. I'm shocked and awed. Girlfriend has strung up the Christmas lights we never used. There's a table and two chairs in the middle, candlelight, a bottle of wine and what looks suspiciously like the tub of mango ice cream she had had delivered home last week to help me get over Crazy, Stupid Love. Damn Ryan Gosling and his bedroom eyes.
"You thought I forgot, didn't you?" she says quietly.
"Forgot what?" I say.
"Today's Valentine's Day, silly," she says and nuzzles me under my chin.
I'm touched. I'm loved up and mushy and.. try as I might, just can't seem to stop myself from bursting her bubble.
"Baby," I say, "this is very sweet but Valentine's Day is tomorrow. The 14th of February."
"Fuck you, baby" she says, "it's today, the 13th. That's why it's an unlucky number."
"You think Valentine's Day falls on the 13th coz it's traditionally an unlucky number?"
"Doh," she says, "the 'number of the beast' and all."
I'm speechless. The number of the beast?
"You don't like?" she says, dipping a spoon into the ice cream.
I can't bear to break this to her. I decide Dates don't matter after all.
"I love it," I say earnestly, " I love you. This is the best Valentine's Day ever."