Day One-Hundred-and-Seven: I’ve made my peace with Valentines Day

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Nothing says romance like a teddy riding a Hummer

My drive to the spice shop today (because you know, nothing says ‘I love you’ like chilli) took me past a florist. It was the usual thing. Nobody really notices there’s a florist there until it’s Valentines Day. Then you can’t get at that place for love or money (or love and money, as it were). And these guys were theming it hard. Apart from the fantastic signage pictured above, they had red streamers hanging from the awnings, teddy bears in the window, balloons-a-plenty, and a big sign reminding everyone who hadn’t yet realised that it is ‘Valentines Day! Roses $40208325805 a dozen!’

Ok, so maybe the roses weren’t that expensive, but when you can use hyperbole if not on V-Day? I love you so much I wanna punch a kitten in the face!

It’s one of those occasions where ordinarily-carefree men scramble in desperation to find a gift that says, “I love you. Like, more than usual. But this ain’t no birthday/anniversary”, and ordinarily-tough women turn to mush over a pink stuffed animal.

Yeah, I’ve always had a problem with Valentines Day.

When I was sixteen, I formed a club with one of my best friends. We called it ‘Fuck Love’. Pretty succinct. It had its own Myspace and everything. I don’t think either of us had really given up on the idea of love, but we were the two singletons in our group of four, and it made days like V-Day a bit more bearable. We’d listen to our friends describe their (what I realise now were totally juvenile, high-school) relationships and roll our eyes at each other over the table. “Fuck love,” we’d chant when the stories got too much.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the idea of celebrating love. I love love. It’s the best. Now that I’m in it, I can’t imagine life without it (lame lame lame). It’s just the expectations and pressure that this one day seems to put on people.

It’s a make-or-break day for relationships new and old. First V-Day together? Be afraid. You wanna get this right. But not go so far that your partner expects similar or grander things every year. Don’t use the diamond ring card, for example, unless you have a shit-ton of money and your girl/guy doesn’t feel that bending her/his fingers is particularly necessary (if you’re really that rich, it probably isn’t).

Those in longer-term partnerships might be starting to get into the comfortable stage (which I don’t subscribe to really – yes, I’m comfortable, but I also still want to jump your bones), and will see V-Day as some kind of chance to reinvigorate their passion. Or something. Either you both forget (we did until yesterday), one of you goes to more effort than the other, or the pressure to be romantic is so great you give yourself stomach ulcers.

There’s another option, of course: Use the day as a reminder to do romantic things, catch up with friends/family, and just appreciate your relationships a little more. Don’t put your partner in the doghouse if they don’t tell you they love you on Valentines Day; put them there if they don’t tell you every day. If you want to take your partner out to dinner, and send roses to them at work, that’s also fine. But do it because you want to, not because you have to. Put some thought into what little thing will say, “Hey, you there! I love you.”

For me, the little thing will be having a special meal ready for my boyfriend when he gets home from work (hence the trip to the spice shop). It’s picking up some things we need and grabbing a treat to share with him later. It’s spending time chatting and giggling and kissing. (Not to gross you out, but we’re that kissing couple. One of my friends timed us once, and said in a social situation it was roughly every thirty seconds that our faces drifted towards one another.)

So, to the guy I saw walking out of the florist carrying a bunch of roses and a look of sheer panic, chill out dude. Give her the roses, tell her you love her, and then bust out that copy of season four of Game of Thrones that you somehow managed to illegally obtain and had to kill, like, six armed guards to get (hint hint).

 

All my love,

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TB

Day Thirty-Six: Practical uses for mind-reading

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Photo source: armzrace.com

 

Sometimes I feel like things would be easier if people could just read my mind.

Not in like a “oh my god, that guy has a huge head–oh, shit, he’s looking; break eye contact” kind of way, but just so I could impart useful information directly from brain into theirs without the strain of having to articulate it. I’d be super selective about what I do and do not want to be transferred across. It’d be like a mass file transfer of anything marked “work” or “recipes” or “irritating chain emails circa 1999”. Heck, we could even make a brain ‘cloud’, where you can just access thoughts and knowledge as you need it, rather than sending your brain into a crawl for the eight hours that it takes to transfer the millions of thoughts across.

I bring this up because I’m currently training someone to do my job once I strike out in the world of Actually Doing What You Studied That Degree For. I don’t think I’m necessarily a bad trainer. I’ve improved since my days in fast food, where having a trainee trailing you and handling your orders made your food service decidedly slow. Back then, I gave my managers black looks when they saddled me with a newbie. It’s not that I don’t like newbies–everyone has to start somewhere–but they have to be told stuff more than once, which, for impatient me, is already once too many.

I’m not sure how many times today I just stopped mid-sentence because I realised I’d forgotten some important aspect, or ended a long spiel with “but we’ll go into that properly later”. Even the most intelligent person would have brain fatigue after the cognitive load that I just dumped on this poor girl today. (Luckily for her, she’s very switched on.) I’m not sure how much is too much for a first day, but I’m fairly certain I covered about a week’s worth of stuff today.

“I’m sorry,” she said mid-way through doing something that I’d showed her once. “How do I do this bit again?”

I felt like I was some kind of dictator (or overzealous parent), expecting her to understand everything after one explanation and mimic my tasks perfectly.

I’m sorry,” I said more than a few times. “I’ve never had to train someone to do my job before.”

It turns out that it’s a surprisingly hard thing to do. There’s no manual. I’ve never really written much down in the way of instructions. The secretary before me was kind enough to write me a cheat sheet with the basic tasks outlined on it, but a lot of that is outdated now. I found myself filling half an A4 page just with Stuff to Do at the Start of the Day.

Every so often, I’d stop and say, “I think that’s pretty much it,” only to be reminded several minutes later when a task was required that that most certainly was not ‘it’. How do you impart four years of tacit knowledge on to someone in a matter of days?

The answer is that you don’t. You leave them with as much knowledge and forewarning as you can, and then they just get to have a wild learning curve. It’s super fun. I did it four years ago, and it was probably the best way to learn.

Still, the brain-to-brain thing would be pretty amazing, right? Here are some other scenarios where it would be mega helpful.

 

Image“So, anyway, and then I was like–TURN RIGHT!”
We’re flung against our seatbelts during the sharpest turn I’ve ever experienced. The driver glares at me.
“What the hell, man!” my friend and glorified-cabbie yells.
“Oh, sorry,” I mutter, sheepishly. “I forgot that you don’t know where I live.”

This happens to me far too often. If only I could transfer a handy route map from my brain to theirs, I wouldn’t have belt burn on my throat right now.

 

ImageThat moment of strangled indecision could be avoided simply if a man could tap into the Responses to Women’s Impossible Queries section of his wife/girlfriend/female acquaintance’s brain. ‘What do you want to hear?’ would be an appropriate search term, with a more specific ‘How can I avoid being slapped?’ added as a secondary phrase.

 

Image“Oh yes! Yes! That’s it! Ye–did you just stick your pointed claw up my cloaca?”
And man, oh man, wouldn’t everything just be so much simpler if potential sexual partners could browse your preferred moves and Absolute Deal Breakers before engaging in playtime? First kisses would never be awkward again. Those weird sexual skeletons would be out in the open from the word ‘go’. Dudes who normally wouldn’t get a look-in would be able to upload their entire sexual history–including photographic memory references–and impress the socks (and panties) off a total babe. Mostly, it would just eliminate the need for any kind of awkward bedroom banter, including but not limited to, “Is that OK?”, “You like that, baby?”, and of course “That is strictly an exit only!”

 

But then, maybe it’s better than people can’t read my mind. Just now, I was thinking about chocolate and cloacas in the same ten-second stream. You don’t even want to know what kind of mental pictures that throws up.

If you do: start inventing!

 

TB