In the past, Valentine’s Day has been nothing but a canker for me, as I’ve had to deal with either my pathetic solidarity, or with miles and miles of distance keeping me apart from my lady of choice. The last time I was excited about Valentine’s Day, I had a pocketful of Ninja Turtle cards to drop into my classmates’ sticker-and-construction-paper-clad shoeboxes. But that was ages ago; I’m not a senior in high school anymore. As an adult with mature emotions, I have long lacked the naivety that always allowed me to be completely oblivious to the fact that not having a girlfriend was supposed to turn me into a depressive blob of human flesh on the 14th of February. As a kid, I wasn’t yet aware of the fact that as an unattached person, I was supposed to cry to the point of dehydration and sulk in a dark corner somewhere, sucking on bon-bons and watching my Stories.
I think my misery came to light once I got into college, where people start to become old enough to really enjoy Valentine’s Day. I remember being a freshman and sitting in my dorm room with Dale, discussing the matter. He had quit on life for the evening and honestly didn’t seem to mind the fact that he was missing out on the Day of Love (this, of course, is for the sole reason that he is Dale Coerper, Jr., a man with a black heart that contains no love. Seriously, Simon Cowell is more sympathetic). I, on the other hand, after having tried a few different prospects, was without a date and was utterly bummed. Dale, being the great friend he is (sound the sarcasm alarm), thought that playing some slow love songs would cheer me up. I remember saying the following: “I hate sappy love songs. They reinforce the loneliness.”
But, at some point, I was pretty confident that I would outsmart the loneliness, and lo and behold, I’ve finally done it! I’ve struck gold with my most recent girlfriend, Amy, and those of you who keep close contact with me know that I’m absolutely wild about this one. I’d be writing a dissertation if I explained all the things that I love about her, but believe me when I say she’s a keeper. She’s funny, she’s smart, and she’s gorgeous. We agree on big issues, and we’re both willing to compromise. That should be enough tangible evidence to prove that she’s a good’n!
Well, this was our first Valentine’s Day together, and because it was my very first one of note, I found myself to be extremely excited by the time the 14th finally rolled around. I had gone out to Borders to get Amy a gift, and I ended up with significantly more than one because my imagination just kept nagging at me with ideas! I probably went a little crazier than was necessary (think a kid being offered a bowl of candy and being told to pick just one piece. Then imagine this kid looking sort of confusedly at the adult, like “One? You’re obviously kidding.” Then, like a flash of lightning, he rips his hand into the bowl, grabbing whatever he can, and darts off into the horizon, a little happy streak of content. Yeah, that was me in Borders buying Amy’s gifts), but I don’t regret it at all. She loved all of the stuff I got her. So I was geeked about Cupid Day. Sue me.
For dinner we went to a place in Bloomington called Central Station, per suggestion of one Mr. Jesse Magenheimer. Jesse is like my own personal connoisseur de restaurants because not only has he lived in the area his entire life, he’s been to damn near every eatery within an 80 mile radius of Illinois Wesleyan’s campus. When he suggests a place, I can be pretty sure that it’s going to be good. In the case of Central Station, he was definitely on target. I had these insanely delicious pork chops that were cooked in wine, and Amy had a 4-cheese, 4-meat lasagna the likes of which I have never experienced in my 22.7 years of living. These meals characterized the term “delectable.” I’m salivating by merely recollecting such morsels. Mmm… morsels…
The meal was good, but the grand finale bordered on absurd. We ordered a dessert with the intention to split it, but the thing we got was relatively small, so we were unsure whether or not it would satisfy both of us. It was called The Chocolate Volcano (or something like that) and was about the size of a baseball. It consisted of a very moist chocolate cake, hot fudge, and chocolate shell. I shoveled in about two bites and instantly felt as if I had just swallowed about three Dakota Fannings. It’s like Central Station had a machine in back that compressed an elephants weight in chocolate into a treat the size of a drink coaster. A couple nibbles and I had had my fill. It was delicious, but I don’t think I’ll be able to eat chocolate for at least two or three more presidencies.
Between the dinner, the gift exchanges (I got the Back to the Future trilogy on DVD and a stuffed TY dog we named Gordon in honor of our favorite Chicago Bull), and the sweet, sweet surprise that Amy set up for me for when I get off of work, it was easily the greatest Valentine’s Day of my life. It’s just nice when you plan a day out to go a certain way, and everything works out exactly the way you want it to. Since then, Amy and I have been riding this emotional high that I hope sticks around. She’s been telling me how lucky she feels to have me, and I’ve definitely been feeling that way for a while. It’s almost funny to me how she is about it, like she’s stunned that I would treat her so well. But then I think back to a quote I once read, which says, “Behind every great man, is a surprised woman.”
Hopefully neither one of us stops feeling so pleasantly astonished.