Romance


I love Valentine’s Day.  I really do.  I like the hearts and flowers, the sappy commercials, the overpowering use of red and pink.  One of my favorite things is passing out Valentines.  Every year I buy a box of the cheap little ones made for kids to pass out at school, usually of the Disney Princess persuasion, and inflict them on everyone around me.  This year’s box came with a sheet of glittery temporary tattoos, which made for extra fun.  I took them to swing dancing with me last night, and gave one to every person there, including the couple I met for the first time that night.  Then I and the girls started playing with the tattoos.  Meghan and I tried to put one on Danny by stealth, but were defeated by the amazing hairiness of his arms.  By the time we were done all of the girls but one were wearing tattoos, and three of the guys.  Good times.

Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I was a little, oh, cranky about Valentine’s Day. There have been very few February 14th’s on which I have been in the sort of relationship that would give me grounds to expect anything. Not that that stopped me. I’d spend the whole day on a sort of demi-pointe of expectation, hoping that perhaps this year some secret admirer would suddenly emerge from the woodwork waving a dozen roses. Or maybe the Man of My Dreams (whoever that was at the time) would abruptly realize the depth of his affection for me, and choose to express it with chocolate, pink hearts, and perhaps something lace-adorned. At the end of the day I’d go to bed sad and disappointed, knowing that my hopes were completely unrealistic, but annoyed with the world for not fulfilling them anyway.

Then one year I had an attitude adjustment. I got tired of being bitter, and took a look around. I realized that Valentine’s Day (although completely divorced from any pseudo-Christian roots it may have ever had) is the day on which our society celebrates happy ever afters. On this day we collectively express belief in the notion that true love does exist, that people really do sometimes find the person they’re meant to be with, that faithful, lifelong love is not only possible, but beautiful. It may not be happening for everyone (or, um, me), but it really does happen. Dreams do come true, people do fall in love with other people, and this is a good thing.  I celebrate Valentine’s Day because I am glad that human love exists.  And so, my friends, I propose a toast: To True Love and Happy Ever Afters, and To Those To Whom They Come – may we each be one of them one day.

I have this well-documented fatal weakness for theology professors. It’s true. Stick me in the same room with a reasonably young, reasonably attractive, available, male theology professor on a regular basis over an extended period of time (like, say, in a class), and chances are before we’re done I’ll be crushing on him. The problem is that too often, they seem to crush back

Last Fall I took a class from Carlos, a late-30-something Cuban who looked like a young C.S. Lewis, sang songs to illustrate theological points, and paid me enough particular attention that other students were turning to watch my reactions when he was cute in class. This was all highly encouraging, but my previous experience with Rocco had been scarring enough that I refused to go there until the class was really done.

Then the class was over, and I waited with baited breath for him to make good on all the promises his flirtatious behavior had seemed to make. All through Christmas I waited, and then the agonizing week until New Year’s, when I knew he had to be back in town. It was torture. Finally when school started up again I ran into him, and everything looked promising. He thought I looked great. He wanted to catch up with me sometime, and suggested that we should have lunch. I was on cloud nine. Then we tried to actually schedule this lunch, my busy schedule promptly clashed with his busy schedule, and everything ground to a halt.  That’s where it ended. He ran into one little roadblock and finked out on me. It was a little hard to take. But first Joe came home, and then Trey started borrowing books, and I’ve been a little distracted.

Now school has started again, and somehow I’m seeing a lot of this guy. We both go to noon Mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I keep running into him on campus, and he draws me into long conversations, all about the things I love, about my family, about everything. These are the conversations I would have killed to be having back in January. The problem is that it’s no good. Before this would have been a dream come true. Now I’m aware of a slight sense of impatience when he asks me yet another leading question. I like talking about myself too much to refuse to allow myself to be led, but I’m starting to think about pretending that I don’t see him when I’m in a hurry.

Dang it, Carlos, why couldn’t you have been like this last winter?