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 Ninety: Learning to be comfortable in silence

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They say that when you run out of things to talk about in your relationship, you start planning a wedding. When it happens again, you start planning babies.

If that’s the truth, I will never be married or have babies.

 

Someone asked me the other day how long I’d been with my boyfriend.

“Four years,” I replied.

“And you guys are living together now, hey?”

“Yep,” I smiled. I always smile when I remember that we’re cohabiting.

“That’s cool. Have you, like, run out of stuff to talk about yet, though?”

 

This attitude assumes two things:

1. That there exists a finite number of topics of conversation; and

2. That my boyfriend and I are constantly throwing words at one another in some sort of desperate attempt to avoid an awkward pause.

 

Neither of these is true.

For starters, my boyfriend and I each have a life outside of our shared home–whether it’s work, social stuff, or hobbies. This creates a wealth of conversation topics beyond just “how was your day?” We’re interested in different things, and spend some of our time reading about our specialty areas, and then sharing tidbits with one another.

“Did you know that they’ve just successfully teleported matter?” he’ll ask me over dinner.

“And yet they still can’t figure out how dinosaurs mated,” I muse.

We talk in bed before we go to sleep. We talk while we drive. We talk when one of us is in the shower and can only just make out what the other is saying over the rush of the water.

 

But we also spend a fair whack of time not talking. Whether we’re sitting together or at opposite ends of the house, we can go hours without uttering a word to one another. It’s not because we’re mad at each other, and it’s not because we’re bored or uninterested. We’ve just achieved a wonderful kind of comfort in silence.

Sometimes we’re taking a long drive, and we’ll sit holding hands over the gearstick, lost in our own thoughts, offering the occasional smile to one another. Sometimes we’re lying in bed, nestled together, our legs intertwined, reading our separate books/phones. Sometimes we’re just enjoying a great meal, and there’s no need for extensive conversation.

When I told my boyfriend about my friend’s question, he shook his head. “It’s not about having new things to talk about all the time; it’s about being comfortable enough with each other that you’re ok with silence.”

 

And when in doubt, make out 😉

TB

Day Forty-Eight: The bluntest advice columnist ever

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Dear NavyBoy, Why stop at two? Think of it as amassing an army.

 

My boyfriend and I were talking crap in the car today, and came on to the topic of replies we’d give to Agony Aunt-type letters. You know the ones. Dear Sally, it hurts to pee. Please help. From, Razorpiss. I feel (hope?) that at some point in my writing career, I might have the prestigious honour of answering these letters with insightful and encouraging replies. Ha. Just kidding. I would totally mess with them.

 

Dear Dr Bopf,
I think my boyfriend of a week is cheating on me. I looked at his Facebook the other day (because he left it open on his laptop) and he had been talking to some girl. It was just stuff like ‘hey’ and ‘what’s up’, but I’m 90 per cent sure he’s more than friends with her. Should I dump him, or do I need to just lay down the law with this other girl?
Totes Heartbroken

Hey Totes Heartbroken,
First, let me say that I totally agree. He’s defs banging her. I mean, guys don’t just say ‘hey’ to a girl unless they’re getting up on that, right? You need to think hard about this one; I’d hate for you to lose such a great, long-standing relationship over a jealous suspicion. I know that just asking him about it straight up, and starting your relationship on a firm grounding of honesty, is totally out of the question, so here’s what I would suggest: hack his Facebook account (hire outside help if need be); start a convo with this bitch; suggest some sex and see what she says; if she agrees, go to town on his account, like really mess that thing up–post pictures of animal porn, comment homoerotic things on his friends’ walls, post a big status about how he’s a cheater and a horse-fucker. He’ll either apologise and never speak to another woman again, or he’ll dump you and press charges. Odds are good on both.
Love,
Dr Bopf
P.S. If you haven’t already, check whether he’s ever agreed to sleep with this girl or if she’s just a mega slut who’s up for anything.

 

Dear Dr Bopf,
My husband and I have three kids under the age of five, and we really struggle to find any time to spend together. I recently found out that I’m pregnant again, but I’m nervous about telling him because we agreed that three was enough. What do you think that I should do?
Up the Duff

Dear Up the Duff,
I have to say that I’m surprised you even had time to write this letter. I’m can only assume that you drugged you kids, and I cannot endorse that kind of behaviour. I’m curious about how exactly you think this will play out. What should you do? Well, you could just not tell him, and avoid all physical/visual contact for nine months. After that, just adopt the kid out and it’s smooth sailing. Of course, most men aren’t so stupid that they can’t notice a pregnancy–particularly in your case, where pregnancy seems to have been your resting state for the past five years. The second option is to terminate celebrate the little miracle within you. (Sorry. Christian publication.) I’d say that you should just tell him and make a decision together, but where would be the fun in that? The cloak and dagger thing is so much more dramatic, right? But really, you’re already pretty f–ked; what’s another mouth?
Best wishes,
Dr Bopf

 

Dear Dr Bopf,
I’ve had this weird rash on my girly bits for about three months now, and I’m starting to get a little worried. Some days, it’s so itchy that I can’t stop myself from scratching, even when I’m at school. It’s really embarrassing and sometimes it hurts so bad I want to cry. Please help.
AntzPantz

Dear AntzPantz,
Seriously? You’d had a searing genital rash for three months and you’re only just now seeking help–from a magazine columnist, by the way. You know they just call me Doctor Bopf because it sounds cool, right? What I usually do when I have major medical issues that are causing me immense pain and discomfort, is just give them time and see if they go away. So, you’re right on track there. It’s always my preference to leave things until they require surgery/hospitalisation. Why make a fuss over something so insignificant as blood in your urine, right? If you haven’t already succumbed to your illness by the time you receive this reply, I would suggest showing your rash to your local member of parliament and see what they can do for you. I’m sure we elected those idiots for something.
Happy scratching,
Dr Bopf

 

Dear Dr Bopf,
Every time I have sex with my boyfriend, he spanks me on the butt and calls me Beryl. Beryl is his grandmother’s name. What the actual f–k?
Can’t Stop Vomiting

Hey there, Can’t Stop Vomiting,
I assume because you’ve said ‘every time we have sex’ that you’re still having sex with him, despite your apparent repulsion. You’re clearly kind of into the spanking. I’m not sure if you’ve read any of Freud’s work, but this is some next level shit. You’d better hope that he just had an ex-girlfriend whose parents were into old-fashioned names. On the other hand, maybe you just look like his grandmother. Have you met her? She’s probably a babe. Take it as a compliment. How many dudes’ grandmothers are so hot, they fantasise about them while they do their girlfriend? Lucky guy.
Have a bucket handy and enjoy yourself,
Dr Bopf

 

Well, now I’ve effectively ruined my chances at ever being hired as an advice columnist–unless it’s for a publication that deals in keepin’ it real and dropping truth bombs. I really hope this publication exists. I am waiting for your call.

But seriously, people don’t really write into those columns with legitimate problems, do they? I remember reading the advice sections of Dolly and Girlfriend and wondering how many bored kids with messed up minds had dreamed up these oozing genital warts and relationship ‘conundrums’ that an infant could solve (hint: dump him). Maybe that’s what failed creative writers turn to in their darkest hours. I’m looking forward to it.

And remember kids: always use protection. Unless your boyfriend has convinced you that you can’t get pregnant if you’re on top. Don’t Google it or anything.

 

Love and scorn,
TB