My Best and Worst Valentine's Days
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
Yes, at heart I can be a bit of a hopeless romantic when it comes to envisioning the perfect Valentine’s Day: flowers, love notes, a romantic candlelight dinner, dancing, and the sweetest kiss from a handsome gentleman…
Uh-hem…let’s get back to reality.
I have had some quite hilarious experiences as a single and some mixed moments as a dating duo during this often over-rated holiday. I share these with you because I know that singles often feel alone, like everyone else has that special someone but you. But having flown solo and also having been in the thick of a dating relationship, I can say that in either case, treasure those moments and don’t take it too seriously.
Laugh with me as I recount some of my better – and worse – moments.
A ‘Volunteer’ Date, Anyone?
Back when I was a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (home of the Volunteers) I kept getting asked out by this geeky engineer who happened to hang out at one of our campus ministries. I repeatedly said no and hoped he would get the message. But a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, he called me at home asking me if I had plans for the holiday. I told him that I did have plans – and I wasn’t lying! My father was coming back into town from a business trip in England and I truly wanted to be there to welcome him home.
When the day arrived for Dad’s arrival, he was so excited to tell us stories and give each of us silly gifts he picked up in England, like Karaoke tapes to famous Beatles songs. My Dad’s passion for life made me forget that I was dateless that particular year.
Just a side note: I shared my story with a female friend about a week or so later, and she told me that the geeky engineer had also phoned her with a plea for a date around the same time as he had asked me! Little did he know that she and I were good friends and knew about his desperate ploy. Oops!
A Not-So-Secret Valentine’s
One year, completely oblivious to the fact that it was Valentine’s Day, I made the mistake of going into Victoria’s Secret for some perfume (yes, I really did go in for the lotion and spray set – because it was on sale!).
I was initially surprised by the flock of happy couples and just how packed the place was when it dawned on me: Laura, it is Valentine’s Day. It didn’t take long for the full understanding of that thought to sink in.
I flushed as I tried to make a quick exit without calling attention to myself, a highly impossible task at this point considering I was in the middle of the store.
Sale or no sale, I don’t think I got the perfume that day after all!
The Flick-ering Heart Rides Solo
I used to be in the habit of going to see movies by myself back in grad school. Though I preferred sharing this event with friends, if friends weren’t around, I wouldn’t let my being solo stop me from enjoying some free-time adventures alone. So, I headed to the theatre on – you guessed it –another Valentine’s Day to see a flick.
Now, I suppose it would have been OK if I had picked a science fiction or psychological thriller. But, really, Laura, a romantic kissing movie?! I can hear the audible groan because, yes, sometimes I can be quite clueless.
Not only that but I also sat down in the theater at least 15 minutes before show time when the house lights were glaring. Once again, I saw cuddling couples everywhere. A bit annoyed at my now awkward single state, my annoyance suddenly became paranoia once I realized that it was the National Day of Love.
Feeling more than a bit naked in my singleness, I still vowed that I had paid the big bucks like everyone else to enjoy a movie and I wasn’t about to leave the theater on principle. So I endured another several minutes of spotlighted visibility that felt like hours, praying that the house lights would dim and the movie would start.
Fortunately, if memory serves me, the movie was very good – that is, until the house lights came back on and I realized I had to make the trek out of the theatre alone. Just paint a big “L” for Loser on my forehead. I was a marked woman.
A Mixed Last-Minute Valentine’s
I was dating a handsome athletic trainer several years ago. Because he had a previous commitment that night, we had made plans to get together later that evening to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Although we wouldn’t have much time to spend together that evening, I still wanted to do something special for my boyfriend, so I decided to bake some heart-shaped brownies, wrap them in colored cellophane baggies, and tag each one with a red heart titled with a characteristic that I appreciated about him, like “sporty,” “funny,” “kind,” and the like.
Well, the brilliant idea was about to come to a sudden halt after I taste-tested the cooling temptations. One bite was enough for me to realize I had either used bad eggs or I had forgotten some key ingredient. Either way they tasted horrible and made my stomach do a flip-flop. There was no way I could give these as a gift; thus, the whole batch got dumped into the trashcan.
Now what, I thought? I need a Plan B. I didn’t want to abandon the original concept entirely so I dashed to the grocery store looking for a sweet treat replacement. I gravitated toward the Hershey’s Miniatures and decided with every look at my watch that it would have to do. There was no time to waste! I returned home, filled the baggies, labeled each one, and stuffed them in a big gift bag.
When he came by the house, I was anxious to see his reaction to all my creative efforts. But before I was able to give him his gift, he beat me to the punch by proudly revealing a framed poem that he wrote for me. With that display of affection, I figured he wouldn’t mind that his present from me was a bit mushy, too. He was appreciative, though I sensed he was a bit overwhelmed by my profuse emotions or maybe just plain tired.
After the gift exchange, we took a walk around the neighborhood lake. And though we were together for a good hour or so, somehow I felt cheated out of the royal treatment that I was hoping for: the candlelit dinner, maybe a movie – something that took the whole night and that spoke of wanting to spend every moment together. My boyfriend seemed rather distant and distracted. Oh well, at least I tried.
Oh, Captain, My Captain: A Valentine’s Day Surprise
Now, back in the late ‘90s, on the other hand, that was one of the best Valentine’s celebrations. We have a local seafood restaurant called Captain George’s that has this incredible seafood buffet. I had heard about it ever since I had started my graduate program at Regent University. Many times I had wanted to try it out, but at something like $25 per person (probably way more now), I hadn’t been able to afford it. But that year, my business student boyfriend took me there, and we enjoyed all things seaworthy. The food was wonderful, and so was the company.
Afterward, in a sweet and extravagant gesture, he presented me with a pair of expensive ice skates, a gift I had mentioned maybe once or twice to him that I had always wanted ever since I was a teenager. That was the best gift he could have given me, better than flowers or fancy jewelry.
I still have those skates today. They are broken in and rink-ready. In fact, I have plans to use them in the near future since it is the winter season.
I guess I shared all this to say you can have a stressful time with someone or alone and you can have a wonderful time with someone or by yourself. No matter where you find yourself this year, I hope that you are seeing your life through the lens of Christ and not through some false lens of idyllic bliss or complete naivete.
A New Kind of Celebration
I knew you were going to ask me about this year, so here it is. Like lots of you, I am not currently in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean I have banned the holiday. I won’t be coming into work today in all black and bitterly eye those happily dating couples while pretending not to care. Everyone can see right through that fake apathy.
And I won’t have some lame excuse that I can’t be festive because I’m not married or in a relationship. Who says this day is just for those in committed relationships, anyway?
Too many years of moaning and self-pity will make you realize life is too short for those kinds of responses. Whether you are single, married, or newly divorced, you are still forever loved by the One who knows you the most intimately and who will never leave or forsake you – and, of course, by that I mean the ultimate HIM – God.
This year I am going to a single women’s event at my church. I am going to get all dressed up and get served a fancy banquet (well, as much as five bucks will get me). And although some of my girlfriends responded in shocked horror to that knowledge, as if going to some all-women’s event would make me look downright desperate and spotlight me for forever wallflower-dom, I am actually looking forward to it. For one, the pressure is off. Besides, it is a good way to fellowship with other women. Maybe I will even have some encouragement for those like me who are still waiting for Mr. Right. My heart is full to give of what God has been depositing in me.
I also know that in my mailbox will be a medium-size package complete with a card and box of candy from my parents. I have gotten this present faithfully from my family ever since I started graduate school here in Virginia. I asked Mom once why she did this for me and she said that she wanted me to have something nice to look forward to. I was curious to see if my sister got the same standard box of chocolates from the fam, and she said no. Instead of reacting with a roll of the eyes and an “oh, it’s because I am still single,” I rather relish my box of chocolates. For one, I don’t have to share them unless I want to! Plus, this gift-giving tradition symbolizes the promise that until that man of my dreams takes on that role of gift-giving, my parents are honored to show their care. I think it very sweet – both the gift and the sentiment.
So, what are you doing for Valentine's Day? Want to share your story? E-mail me.
More articles by Laura
Laura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, and health articles.
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