A cynic goes in search of romance
I dont know about you but the day after New Years day I breathe a sigh of relief that the holidays are over. No more family get togethers, no more shopping, no more forced good cheer.
Then suddenly, no sooner are the Christmas decorations down than red hearts begin to bloom in retail outlets across the land, like a rampant virus replicating itself at impossible speed. Before I know it cherubic Santa Clauses have been replaced with cherubs, and as my stomach twists into knots and I break out into a cold sweat, it dawns on me that another Valentines Day is soon upon us.
As you may have guessed Im not a big fan of this holiday. Actually its not really a holiday; you dont get a day off or anything, all the banks are open, although if they were closed, I could imagine their slogan, " Were closed today to show how much we really love your money."
Of course you could say the same thing about Halloween (now theres a holiday). All right Im hopelessly biased, I admit it.
"So what drove you to this bitter outlook on a day that celebrates such a fundamental human emotion?" I hear you ask. Well its the obvious answer: yes I was dumped by a serious girlfriend around this time of the year (I know, boo-hoo, get over it).
So then how does someone like me end up with the assignment to write about something I so obviously have no interest in two years running, I should add? What can I say, my editor has a twisted sense of humour.
"Why not write a piece on Valentines Day?" he says with a sadistic gleam in his eye. "The most romantic day of the year," he adds somewhat unnecessarily.
I managed to qualm my hearty guffaws long enough to say gamely, "Sure, I guess I can give it the cynical outlook approach."
He reminds me that that was exactly the same spin I gave it last year. So he wants something romantic, something carefree and whimsical, to remind people of their special someone on this special day?
"Yes, thats it!" he says.
You sick bastard, I think to myself. Then I smile and nod enthusiastically, "Okay, Im on it."
Well easier said that done. Since Im single (again) this year I decide that perhaps I might just try and get to the bottom of this whole romance thing, and perhaps in doing so find a love of my own and change my outlook on Valentines Day forever (no, seriously). I mention my plans to a few friends and they give the sort of encouragement one gives to a friend who has just announced that he plans to move to Hollywood and become a movie star: "Great; go for it; losta luck."
For some reason my friends seem to labour under the impression that I am incapable of forming any serious romantic entanglements. To make matters worse I have noticed that in the past year a disturbing number of them have made serious commitments of their own. (How many is a disturbing number? Well, roughly all.) Honestly I dont see what the big deal is, I mean how hard can it be if you really put your mind to it? You meet someone, find out if you have anything in common with them, say I love you and get hitched.
"If its so easy then why dont you do it smart guy?" Im sure a few of you are wondering. Well like I said I plan to try, but I realize it may require some help, so I decide to check out Love Nest I mean come on, Love Nest, its their business. If they cant help me then nobody can.
Once there I meet the very friendly Tanya. I inform her of my quest and ask if she has anything that might be helpful love potions, aphrodisiacs, maybe an inflatable blond. She suggest pheromone cologne.
"It has natural pheromones that make you irresistible to the opposite sex," she tells me.
Okay, sounds good to me. I try a test spray; to me it just smells like Dakar Noir which, considering the homoerotic imagery they use in their adds, may not be the image I want to project.
"So what do you think?" I ask Tanya. "Do you find me irresistible?" (Notice how I managed to avoid the obvious Austin Powers line here.)
"No, but Im already involved with someone so it probably wont work on me."
Im a little doubtful about her reaction to the pheromones and their potency, but Im curious about her romantic entanglement, thinking maybe I could learn something here.
"So how did you meet?" I ask.
"We started as friends." (Friends first, this is good, I can use this stuff.) "It was really casual to start with and you know, it just evolved."
"So is there anything in particular that he says or does that melts your heart, so to speak," I ask, hoping for a good line that I might use myself.
"Yes hes pretty good at it, hell squeeze my arm and say lets see if I can get some honey out of you honey. Or if I say were out of angel hair pasta hell say Why dont I just use a few of yours."
Yes, like most of the men reading this, I cringe on hearing this stuff. But dont knock it, it seems to work.
"Well," I say, "that certainly sounds like love."
"No not really, I mean I wouldnt say that hes the one."
Now Im confused. "If hes not the one , then how do you know hes not the one and what makes someone the one in the first place?"
"I dont know, but Ill know it when I see it."
I sigh and shake my head. Such blind faith. Im starting to think that I may be in over my head.
At times like these, I usually seek solace in the numbing effects of alcohol. Plus, a crowded bar will give me a chance to better test the pheromone cologne. The Amsterdam Cafe looks crowded enough. I find a place at the bar, but unfortunately most of the patrons are male. Undaunted, I ask the female bartender, Heather Big Hair Heather to her friends, if she would like to take a whiff of my pheromone cologne. I mention to her (perhaps unwisely) that it is suppose to make me irresistible. She declines saying, "Youre irresistible enough." The sarcasm meter goes off the scale.
Okay, so Im oh for two on the cologne, but I press on thinking maybe, like Tanya, Heather has some take on this whole romance game. Does she have any opinion on Valentines Day?
"Its cheesy, its just another cheesy commercial holiday."
Heather sounds pretty cynical, probably not the sort of person I should be talking to.
"Am I to assume then that you are single?" I ask.
"No I have somebody," she assures me. "Im just not that into romance."
This is interesting. It seems to me that a lot of people out there are involved in relationships that dont amount to much more than monogamous casual sex.
"What about your boyfriend? Does he share your opinion?"
Heather shrugs. "I dont know, I guess."
"I suppose that means youre not expecting flowers or anything?"
"No, I like flowers. Im definitely getting flowers."
Is it me, or are all the women in the world messing with my head?
Later on I meet some friends for drinks. theyre both female so I figure this could be another chance for some useful research. I mention the pheromone cologne, which results in more sarcasm.
"Oh my God its so strong, someone hold me back!" Exclaims one.
Yes, very funny, but at least Im making the effort.
"So what about you?" I ask the comedian. "What are you usually doing on St. Valentines Day?"
"Im usually single," she admits. "Or I have my period."
Im starting to think that maybe being single isnt such a bad option after all. I could be like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, sort of tortured and brooding. Of course its romantic when he does it, whereas with me I would probably come across as some guy whos just really boring. Although in a way, walking off into the mist with Claude Rains does sound somewhat appealing (no not that way). I mean I could run around in circles trying to find someone to fall in love with and go to all the trouble of trying to figure out if she prefers flowers or chocolates, and think up cute sayings so she can tell her friends how sweet I am, only to wake up one morning and have her tell me Im not the one , whatever that means.
Or I could say to hell with it and go on as I have. Still, something tells me I wont.
Joining the French resistance and fighting the Nazis was never really an option. If Im honest with myself (I rarely am), I have to admit that I would be much more likely to get on the plane with Ingrid Bergman and let Claude Rains have the Nazis to himself. Which means that I guess Im not going to give up searching for someone to fall in love with (even if I dont necessarily believe in it).
So watch this space and maybe next year Ill be so full of nauseating platitudes on the virtues of romantic love that you will shake your collective heads and say "I remember him when...."
By the way guys, the pheromones dont work, but it doesnt hurt to smell nice.