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I Hate Valentine's Day
By Bennett Madison
Simon Spotlight EntertainmentCopyright © 2004 Bennett Madison
All right reserved.
Chapter Three: Emergency Dating
So you've rethought V-Day. You've deprogrammed your brain, deconstructed your expectations, and reset your meter. You judiciously considered puppies and babies and other innocent creatures. That's great. But you still want a date for the big helliday. You just do! Because, whatever, it's the point.
I can't say that I approve. Weren't you paying any attention to the last chapter? Your entire love life does not hinge on this one day. But I also understand that it is not my approval you are after. You are seeking a V-Date. Don't look at me -- I've already got mine lined up.
Every year, around February 10 or so, people stop fooling themselves. Up until this date, it is easy to tell yourself that you are FINE, JUST FINE with spending the blessed day by yourself. However, no matter how healthy your attitude, it becomes easier and easier for your resolve to crack as the day approaches. The peer pressure becomes too much to take. Friends start planning elaborate, show-offy displays of affection involving horsedrawn carriages or flying dirigibles. On the side of every passing bus, V-Day-oriented advertisements taunt you with their saccharine, passive-aggressive slogans. The final straw is always (always) the Very Special Valentine's Day episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Before you know it, all your carefully cultivated resolve is out the window. You need a date, and you have less than four days to find one.
Never fear. It's totally doable. But before you camp out on the street corner with a sign that reads WILL WORK FOR DATE, you have to figure out what you're hoping to get out of it. This is a more complicated question than you might realize, and you are advised to tread carefully in your decision, lest you choose a partner for your "romantic low-key evening" who is more inclined to take you to a sex party or swingers' club.
So why, exactly, do you want a V-Date? Be honest. Remember, no matter what answer you choose, thousands of other singlefolk are looking for the same exact thing.
A. I want to get laid!
How forthright of you to admit it. I don't really get why it is more important to have sex on V-Day than on any other day of the year -- is it some superstitious thing? -- but I certainly understand the desire for a healthy serving of casual, self-esteem-boosting sex. One little-known secret about Valentine's Day is that it is one of the craziest nights of the year. It is even more out of control than New Year's Eve or Halloween, because people are desperate to forget how hellacious the whole event is, and they tend to accomplish this by getting rowdy, wasted, and naked. Everyone has spent the week leading up to the day stressing out, and when it finally rolls around, bang! The drunken orgies just sort of...happen. What I'm saying here is that your desire for hot V-Day sex shouldn't be too difficult to accomplish. Just do yourself a big favor by being at least marginally choosy about your partner. Try not to get scabies. Have fun!
B. I want a distraction.
Congratulations! You have picked the most sensible of answers. You don't care all that much who your Valentine's date is with, as long as he or she is interesting enough to hold your attention for a couple of hours. The goal here is to get out of the house, flirt a little bit, and, if possible, forget that it is the fourteenth of February. A bronzed Adonis or swimsuit model would be nice, but only if he or she comes with a passable sense of humor or something to say. No problemo. This type of date is not hard to come by. Give yourself a pat on the back for setting such a realistic goal for yourself.
C. I want to make my ex jealous.
Oh, you vengeful creature. This is the most karmically unfortunate answer you could pick. Maybe that is also why it is one of the most difficult types of V-Day dates to land. Not only does your match have to be outwardly stunning -- or at least better looking than the ex in question -- but he or she must also appear to be at least halfway interested in you. As if that weren't a tall enough order on such short notice, you also have to engineer a way of running into your ex -- who will hopefully be out with a total dog. And it has to look like a complete coincidence that you just happen to bump into each other. Good luck with that. Maybe you should think about getting over it.
D. I want to find true love.
This is such a pipe dream that I don't even know why I'm including it as a choice, but I'm sure that there are those of you out there who have recently been bingeing on Harlequin romance novels and made-for-Lifetime movies. Hello! Those are not real. The odds of meeting your soul mate just in time for your Valentine's date are so slim as to be laughable, and if it was to happen, in some stroke of lottery-caliber luck, it wouldn't be because you were out trolling for it. Nothing less than an act of God can make this happen, so don't get your hopes up. And come on -- let's think about this for a second. Imagine that it did happen. Do you really want your anniversary to be Valentine's Day? That is so tacky and over the top, and it's just going to make next V-Day twice as bad, by adding all the anniversary stress into an already poisonous mix. Plus, what if you break up? Then Valentine's Day will not just be Valentine's Day -- it will also be your former anniversary. Don't do that to yourself. Instead, why not try adjusting your expectations. For your emergency V-Date, I prescribe finding someone that you like well enough. Try that on for size. Learn to love it because it's as good as it gets. Maybe you will meet your soul mate on Saint Patrick's Day or something.
E. I don't want people to think I am a loser.
Sigh. Do you really have to do that to yourself? No one has a date for Valentine's Day. In fact, I bet it is actually the day of the year when single people are least likely to have dates. Most people get so freaked out about it that they just throw in the towel and completely shut down. Not having a V-Day date doesn't make you a loser, it just makes you normal. But if there are people you really need to impress, like coworkers, friends, or your pestering mom, not to sweat. There are many choices out there for you.
Now that you've settled on the why, it's time for the really daunting part. That's right: the how. Remember the letter of the choice that you made in the above section, because it will make a difference in how you decide to land the date.
Remember, it's just for one night; it doesn't have to be a real-and-forever love connection. Take a deep breath, and pick your method. These choices are tried and true, although they are not all for everyone.
The Internet (Appropriate if you chose A, B, or D in Section 1)
The longer you wait, the more you'll have to lower your standards, but the fact is that the Internet simply cannot fail in a pinch. Certain men of loose morals have certain methods of arranging an online rendezvous in five minutes or less. I'm not advocating that you go that far, but if you're too lazy to leave the house, get those fingers tapping and you'll come up with something.
The fact is, Internet dating is pretty versatile. If all you want is a perfunctory dinner followed by a steamy booty call, there are many sites dedicated to your objective (not that I've ever been to any of them). On the other hand, if you are looking to be wined and dined and wooed, those sites are out there too. Because of this, it is extremely important that you not troll for your date in the wrong virtual spot.
Stay away from:
J-Date if you are Mormon
EHarmony if you are gay
Friendster if you are over 30
Makeout Club if you don't know what a GET-UP KID is
M4Mnow if you don't enjoy sex in public restrooms
There are several all-purpose online dating sites that are designed for broader tastes than those above. Nerve.com is the eyebrow-pierced, horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing version of Match.com, and LavaLife is the one with the really obnoxious subway advertisements. Any or all of these should suit your purposes.
Unfortunately, there is still a certain amount of stigma attached to finding love on the Internet. Don't let this deter you: Lying to your friends and family is easy and fun. In fact, making up a cutesy "how we met" cover story is a good icebreaker for those first, awkward minutes of your Valentine's E-Date.
The Hairdresser (Appropriate if you chose B, C, or E)
Guess what? Hairdressers know everything about everyone. I shudder to think about the humiliating secrets I've revealed to my hairdresser, a predictably named Sebastian, simply because I fear the snipsnipsnip of awkward silence. Most people have this same tendency -- they sit down in the chair and start spilling their guts as soon as the scissors come out. As a result, the keepers of the coiffeur are also excellent information brokers. They know who is cheating on whom, who has chlamydia, and of course, who needs a date for Valentine's Day.
Plan ahead and book an appointment for early February, at which point you can drop broad hints about your desperate situation. Actually, just forget the hints. There's really no point in beating around the bush, so just come out and say it: "I am desperate for a Valentine's Day date and I need a hookup. Fast."
He will hem and haw. He will claim he doesn't know anyone. This is all part of the elaborate game that hairdressers play in order to entertain themselves and preserve their special hairdresser mystique. Don't fall for it -- he knows someone. He will give you the number. But you are going to have to beg, flatter, and grovel to get it out of him. In the end, I promise, he will fold.
Let's just hope you've been tipping well over the years. Otherwise, buttering him up now will do no good. Hairdressers, like elephants, have very long memories. It's all about the aggregate score. If you've been generous, you just might wind up with the V-Date to top all V-Dates. But if you've been a skimper, you'll find yourself set up with an evil, boring toad. Remember -- the hairdresser knows who has chlamydia. And he can be vindictive.
One final word of warning: When the date is over, your hairdresser is going to hear all about it. All about it. The intimate details of your V-Date will be filed away in his computer-like brain for future reference. Because of this, it's probably wise not to use him to find yourself a quickie, unless you want everyone in town to know about it.
The Gym (Always appropriate)
Oh sure, it's for your health. You can continue telling that to yourself if it's going to keep you on the treadmill. But you and I both know that the gym is basically the world's most brightly lit singles bar. And it's a great place to find a last-minute date because, unlike a bar, you can go during the daytime. It's the perfect choice for those who have failed to think ahead. Pretty much everyone who's at the gym at four in the afternoon on the dreaded day is there for the same reason as you.
Now, dressing for a date at the gym is a little bit of a catch-22. On the one hand, you don't want to look like a sweaty, sallow-faced schlump, because that is going to get you nowhere. On the other hand, you can't look like you're trying too hard. This is a very fine line to tread. I recommend that you wear your most flattering T-shirt and thigh-showing shorts, and, if you're a lady, a light coating of lip gloss with a no-bullshit ponytail. No matter what your gender, facial moisturizer is a must, to ensure that healthy "just worked out!" glow, despite the fact that you will not actually be working out.
That's right. No one wants to go out with a sweaty, panting, treadmill-crazed mess. That's why you have to look like you're getting a workout when you're in fact just sizing up the prospects and pouting come-hitherly. Spend your time sitting on a little-used machine while fanning yourself coyly. Then, when you reel one in, make a cool beeline for the water fountain. At the gym, the deal is always closed at the water fountain. (Steer clear of deals closed in the steam room.)
Your Ex (Appropriate if you chose A or B)
As long as the wounds from your former relationship aren't still raw, former "lovers" make great dates for one night. You used to like each other, so why not pretend you still do? Aside from the Internet, this is probably the best choice for those looking for no-strings V-Day sex. Everyone knows that exes put out.
Whatever you do, however, do not attempt this method with an ex who you aren't completely over -- or someone who's moved on to someone else. The name of the game here is casual familiarity. Don't use it as an excuse to rekindle old sparks with The One Who Got Away. There's too much potential for humiliation. Save that for another day.
Your Gay Friend (Appropriate if you chose B, C, or E)
Or your straight friend, if you are gay. Eliminate sexual tension altogether, and settle for a night of making the world jealous. Dress up in your fanciest frock, go to the most exclusive restaurant in town, and pretend that you are madly, madly in love. Coo over your date, spoon-feed him chocolate mousse, and make little kissy-kissy noises. Don't let on that it's all for show. All the disgruntled actual couples will shoot you dirty looks. Just smile at them and cackle like the Joker. Little do they know!
The Imaginary Date (Appropriate if you chose E)
Designed expressly for fooling nosy cubicle-mates. Send yourself exotic flower arrangements. Compose gooey love letters to yourself and display them proudly on your bulletin board. Publicly call your answering machine and pretend that you are talking to your Special Someone. "I love you, too, baby!" you should say loudly. "No, I love you more. No, I love you even more." Clear your throat. Escalate to a near shout and exclaim, "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, SWEETHEART!" Everyone in the office will turn in their swivel chairs to glare at you. They're spending the night in front of the television, of course. Suckers.
Yes, this is a somewhat pathetic scheme. But it is also fun. Get creative -- since you are lying anyway, you might as well make it a big one. Claim that you cannot reveal your paramour's identity because he or she is a secret agent or avoiding the paparazzi. Say that you met at a charity ball for the international jet set, and that she is picking you up for your date in a black helicopter. Just don't get caught in your deception, lest your associates have proof of the fact that you are, as they suspected all along, an utter psycho. (Did I just say that? Ignore me. I know that you are in a dark place right now.)
The panhandler outside your building (unless he is really hot)
The guy in the gym locker room who has been toweling off for an hour (You are so not ready for that jelly.)
Your cousin (Much as you might wish otherwise, you are not a character on The Sopranos.)
Your psychiatrist (This will set your progress back by at least three months.)
The sixteen-year-old paperboy (Do you really want to spend your V-Day date in a balloon-decorated high school cafeteria...or in jail?)
Your icky boss -- or your thong-flaunting intern (You never know who is going to turn out to be a secret operative of the vast right-wing conspiracy.)
The construction workers who are so very approving of your ass (I hate to break it to you, but they say that to all the girls.)
There, that wasn't so hard, was it? With your fresh date in hand, maybe you can finally chill out a little bit. And if you failed in your quest, let it go and move on to the next chapter.
Copyright © 2005 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Excerpted from I Hate Valentine's Day by Bennett Madison Copyright © 2004 by Bennett Madison. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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