I used to date this guy who I referred to as, The Epicurean. He used to take me on real dates to fancy LA restaurants, many of which I’ve yet to return. My friends gushed at how much he was trying to impress me, but as much as I would have loved for that to be the case, it wasn’t. He only took me to these eateries because it’s where he wanted to eat; I was hardly a factor in the decision. I was just an accessory to his eccentric lifestyle. Even at twenty-two I knew this was a bunch of bullshit and I broke up with him after four months. I couldn’t take anymore formal dates with nice clothes or prosciutto. I just wanted someone to take me to Chipotle and sit in sweats on the couch. That’s the stuff of love and intimacy for me, not upscale restaurants, expensive gifts, or any other displays of wealth.
Oddly enough, we reconnected a year and a half ago, and while we didn’t really date for a second time (we were both coming out of long term relationships and equally fucked up about them), he still took me out to really great places. Four years later it was a weird feeling because I was as old as he was when we had dated. Four years later and I still knew it wasn’t what I wanted, but I was old enough to appreciate a good free meal.
Now I’m in an unassuming, no frills, perfectly comfortable relationship with a guy who takes me for pizza when I’m really hungry. We’re not really big on spending money on each other to show how much we care, and when we do, it’s hardly ever when we’re supposed to. Birthdays, Christmas (in our case, Hanukkah) , and Valentine’s Day sort fall low on the priority list. That said, this Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend didn’t get me anything. Last year for our first we’d only been dating for a couple months; he gave me cookies and a small potted flower that I let live for two months. I gave him a sweet card and tiny notebook. We stayed in, watched TV, ate the cookies, and enjoyed each other’s company.
This year we were both busy, truthfully him more than me. We agreed we wouldn’t do anything. My only request was that we got to see each other that night, since our time recently has been severely limited. Despite our pact to renounce the dumb Hallmark holiday, I went and bought him a case for his new phone (mostly because the Jewish mother in me was concerned about his vulnerable new iPhone) and a nice card because my family is like, really big on cards. We went to a casual dinner and afterward I gave him my small token. He was confused because we had agreed not buy presents, but I wanted to do something small and practical. He got me nothing (just as he said, no surprises). But still I thought he’d do SOMETHING. Even a card, because like I said, my family is really big on cards. “I don’t like giving you presents when I feel like I have to,” he told me, which at the time felt like a big old excuse. But, I shrugged it off and said I was just glad to have his company.
I felt sort of bummed about it, but not enough to say anything or to give it more than a couple thoughts. We DID agree to not buy presents for each other, and I’m that cool chick who doesn’t care about that shit. But, I think I kind of cared about that shit. I felt bad about caring, but just kept it to myself.
Then out of the blue a couple weeks later, he asked me what my plans were for the coming Saturday at 5pm. I said nothing, and he told me he had something planned, but I would need to wear comfortable clothes and would probably want to shower later. I’m not really Type A, but I don’t do well with surprises. I instantly barraged him with questions about the specifics of the clothes I should wear, and where I would be showering, all the things that are huge factors for girls, and meaningless for guys. I finally made enough inquiries that he asked if I just wanted to know in case he blew it and could still cancel. I said that I did want to know. He had scheduled a ninety minute massage for both of us.
Well, I felt like a huge boner.
Then a couple weeks after the massage, he surprised me with a “Happy First Week of Your New Job” present in the form of a print we had seen at a paper shop a couple months ago. It was the obscure print of a poster I had hanging in my room for my entire childhood. This is also the guy who used his key to my place last year while I was at work to come and install a new shower head he had bought for me. He didn’t say a word, letting me find it myself when I showered the next day. Oh, I also found the note that said, “I want to “shower” you with affection,” which still hangs in my bathroom today.
So, I think he more than made up for Valentine’s Day, and I feel awful for even feeling bummed for one second. This is the relationship I asked for, and the relationship I ultimately need.
Heather is a contributing editor at the-dah. She is a Los Angeles based writer, improviser, snacker, social media mistress, and aspiring adult. Read more of her food-stained stories about growing up weird at Terrible-Twenties.com, or follow her digital alter ego @MissHezah on Twitter.
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