My Not-So-Funny Valentine: Ambition, Topknots and the Legend of the Meet-Cute

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by Hester Prynne

Today is Valentine’s Day. I really am not a sentimental gal when it comes to this holiday, nor am I the kind of person who spouts about how it’s a wicked Hallmark-consumerist creation. Valentine’s Day just seems to be another Thursday that I’ll have work-classes-meetings all day then I’ll want to lay in bed and eat something unhealthy while I browse the sick eBay listings of the Prabal Gurung dresses I didn’t get at Target this week. But, the more and more I noodle about V-Day, the more I get nervous – am I not doing this right? Most people have some sort of formed opinion on Valentine’s Day and my blasé attitude about it…. Could this be some sick metaphor for why I am Valentine-less in 2013?

I rarely talk about this because I honestly don’t see it as a problem – but I’m starting to realize that that, in itself, is the problem. My roommate once said to me that, in the umpteen years she’s known me, she’s never seen me give a guy an honest chance. “You get so bored so easily, because you don’t give them any sort of opportunity,” she says. I have never analyzed it until now, so I apologize if my train of thought makes no sense.

I am so amazed by these people that can open up to every personality, every style, every body, every guy they meet. I don’t think these people are being emotionally slutty and I don’t think that I am emotionally frigid. I am analytical, careful and calculated. I don’t waste time and I don’t dawdle. And I’ll be the first to admit, I have had feelings for many of the dudes I’ve crossed paths with, but only for a few minutes, or days or (at best) weeks. Only a very small handful has actually made my heart race, my palms sweat and my mind go blank. I seem to live in this fantasy that, when the right person comes along, it’ll be like that elementary school crush, the first one that enveloped your every fiber.

I remember, in high school, having the biggest crush on this guy – there was one night that I was texting with him and he was just not picking up on the “obvious” (read: too cryptic for professionals to uncover) hints I was dropping. It was raining in May, and I laid on my bedroom floor and cried for an hour because I liked him so much and I couldn’t do anything about it. Melodrama and I have since parted ways, but I’m still convinced that there will be someone that will make me feel that way again so I’ve resolved to wait until it happens. But, could my unwillingness to settle be cutting me off from exactly that kind of connection?

In the same vein of never analyzing how I treat guys, I have never made a New Year’s resolution. Even though I am a month late, I will take this year to take the emotions of others and myself with a few more grains of salt. For serious, guys. Anyone out there who is thinking – god damn it, I am single and I am going to be alone forever – you’re not. But the problem isn’t the barren wasteland of sexual crop in Madison, it’s YOU. I treat guys the way that the douchebag guys in teen dream rom-coms treat girls. I am John Tucker. I am flippant with emotional ties, convinced that no guy is seriously invested in me enough to care if I don’t feel like texting back. They may never admit to it, but it doesn’t justify treating them like meat wands. Maybe this is the year I am supposed to actually try to be less closed off and cold. I have been countlessly told my Resting Bitch Face and vicious donut bun are already scary enough to the male population, so I should tone down the Boys’ Club sass of treating guys disposably.

But then again, how the heck do you meet someone in college? I hate to say it, but no fairytale ever started with, “And I was falling off my stool at Chaser’s.” There is the allusive method of meeting someone in a class, but I really think this is just folklore. How in the world do you meet people in class? I mean, I’ve never worn sweatpants to class and only forgot to do my make-up once, because I’m not a peasant, but I have yet to experience the hoards of eligible and non-heinous-looking bachelors of Madison pouncing on my goodies. What’s a collegiate lady got to do to land a meet-cute?

But I suspect the reason I have missed a million and one meet-cutes is because my impossible emotional standard and driven appearance scares off the good ones. I see you, Mr. Chinos-and-Suede-Oxfords-on-the-3, staring at me. Sorry that angrily clicking through my iPod is such a boner-slayer. What about you, Mr. Awkwardly-watching-me-buy-bizarre-IPAs-at-Riley’s? Did the clack of my heels, stomping past the André like I’ve got a vendetta against champagne, turn you off? But then again, maybe I would’ve slowed my pace had they caught my eye.

Ultimately, it comes down to this high expectation that every great love will capture your entire body, like in that song “Feel Again” by OneRepublic. That is it. That insatiable need to instantly feel attracted again to another person, past their blue eyes-dark hair combo (take notes, guys, if you ever want to set Sister Prynne up…). It’s pretty dang hard to want to be in the same bed, eating burgers from S2YD, watching “Wet Hot American Summer” with someone who doesn’t make your whole face tingle when they look at you. There is a strong and valid expectation that the people worth your time and love-laden anxiety will instantly catch and keep your attention. But I’m scared my Type-A determination to get this right has made me overlook exactly who that should be.

So, I leave you with this nugget of an idea. You should never compromise your identity, your drive or your passion to woo another. Instead of compromise, this year should be about actually connecting with someone. No petty inside jokes about something that happened at the KK once when you were both ordering at the bar. No cryptic, Emoji-laden text conversations that you time out responses to. No mid-day “dates” to Jamba. This year is about actual conversation, actual substance and actual connection. Be ballsy. The worst thing that can happen when you put yourself out in the world and initiate a conversation is that they might say, “No thanks”. You have absolutely nothing to lose by being slightly less invulnerable. Make this the year that you banish your bad habits of ignoring all the right parts because one time he drunkenly clung to a tree, screaming your name, because he couldn’t find your house. And if someone you never expected invites you for a Valentine’s Day appz-n-zerts fandango, what the hell is stopping you? Screw it, I’m gonna say yes.

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