Monday, February 14, 2005

How Not to Do Things: Holiday Edition

I'd like to take a few moments (putting down my new copy of "Blue Like Jazz") to share a little story on this day of days, if you don't mind.

I made a comment on another website about how important this day can be, if a relationship is on shaky ground, and how I managed to bungle the only V-day I had a reason to celebrate. I was asked to explain this further, and I decided it would be a charming little anecdote to share.


(Historical Note: This may not be entirely accurate, in the details. I had tried to scrub this from my memory before, so what I'm relaying is not an exact account, but I think it captures the essence of the event. That said, I beg pardon of the person involved, if I didn't get it exactly right in the telling.)

It was the late winter of 2002. I had been dating my girlfriend for about three and a half months. The dawn of February brought the possibility of a great V-day, and I looked forward to it. I came up with ideas for romantic dinners, moonlit walks, all manner of sentimental things. I formed plans. This year's would be great.

Unfortunately, one of my major character flaws is my difficulty turning plans into action. I'm a thinker more than a doer. Coupled with a February flurry of homework and school projects, I lost track of the days. Every spare moment seemed to be taken up (though this was likely not true).

The fateful day arrived. I had no plans. I had no reservations. I had nothing prepared. I could only wing it. That'd worked for other things, right? It might work this time too.


I picked my girlfriend up (empty-handed) at her dorm. "Where do you want to eat?" "I don't know." "Pick." "You pick." We finally decided on Garfields. As we drove there, I secretly wished, Please don't be busy.

It was packed. The wait was about 45 minutes. We waited impatiently for about 15. The more we waited, the more frustrated at myself I became. I kept thinking, "I am such an idiot! How could I have screwed this up?" I let my frustration seep through. She asked a few questions, and I gave terse responses. Finally, we left.

I tried to think of other places to have dinner, but my attitude and my lack of preparation had already done their damage. My girlfriend said, "You know what? Take me back. I have some stuff to do."

"But we haven't eaten."

"Just take me back, Dave. I'll eat something in my room."

"Come on, I'm trying to--"

"Dave. Just take me back."

"Fine." I couldn't fix it, and that made me angry.

We drove back in silence. When we reached the dorm's back door, she grabbed her bag and got out of the car. There was a vinyl record on the floor, without a case. "What's that?" I asked.

"Nothing" said she, and slammed the door.

I watched her storm off down the steps and into the dorm. I reached down and picked up the record. An opera. The story of Faust. Curious. I flipped it over.

It was beautiful. She had painted the words to our song in red, set against a swirling background of reds, oranges, and yellows. I knew how careful, how methodical she was, when she painted. It had to have taken hours.

I set it down, sat there for a few moments, and said (in the words of Rob Gordon), "Wow. I am a f***ing a**h***."

We eventually reconciled. I confessed my callousness, my ineptness at being a boyfriend. I begged forgiveness. It was granted.

It wouldn't be the last time I begged her forgiveness. But it was one of the worst.


So cheer up, all you wonderful single (or practically single) women.

You could have been dating me.

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