Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010 

Jessica Cabot sits in a car in a parking garage with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend. Jessica Cabot has a boyfriend. It is Valentine’s Day. She has a boyfriend.

Jessica’s boyfriend procures several bags from the trunk of the car. He hands them over to her.

She is enthused and in disbelief. How lucky is she to be sitting here in this parking garage with a boyfriend of her very own, on Valentine’s Day no less??? She is happy because she has a boyfriend, and sort of feels sorry for all those girls who don’t have a boyfriend to sit with in a parking garage! She doesn’t think about them too much though, she’s just really lucky to have a boyfriend.

And it’s Valentine’s Day! The boyfriend points at the bags with things in them and encourages her to look inside them. He is not the sort of boyfriend to be bothered with such petty conventions as wrapping paper, but Jessica hardly minds this at all because she has a boyfriend.

She looks inside the first bag. A box of chocolate. Adorable. Jessica Cabot has a boyfriend that bought her a box of chocolate. She can hardly believe it. She looks inside the next bag, one that is from Urban Outfitters no less. It’s a bottle of perfume. She notices it is partly not filled all the way to the top and a “TEST ME” sticker remains on the bottle. Hey, it’s the thought that counts though, and well, wow, how nice is this guy to get her bags of things for a holiday centered around celebrating their love? He is very thoughtful and sweet, she thinks, and feels incredibly appreciative that someone would actually purchase items for her. No one has ever purchased items for her.

Inside the last bag is a pair of earrings. They are shaped like leaves. Jessica chuckles slightly and tries to smile appreciatively, “Aw, thanks! They’re really pretty. It’s just…”

She tugs on her earlobe. Her ears aren’t pierced. It’s okay though, she thinks, they have been together, what, six months at this point? It’s an easy mistake to make. Most girls have their ears pierced. It’s a small detail that’s hard to notice, and it’s the thought that counts.

“It’s okay, I can return it and get a necklace that looks like it! I mean, if I had my ears pierced I would totally wear it.”

Jessica is genuinely appreciative and finds no fault with the slight error. He really tried, and it’s kind of her fault anyway that she doesn’t have her ears pierced. Jessica hugs and kisses her boyfriend for the thoughtful gifts and sincerely praises him for his kind gestures.

“Oh my god I can’t believe you did so much! No one has ever done anything this nice for me!”

She means it.

Jessica goes to the back of her trunk to get a box. The box is wrapped in nice, festive, red paper. On top of the box is a card. She hands the box with the card to her boyfriend.

“Open it!”

The boyfriend opens the card. It is a Snoopy themed Valentine’s Day card that says something along the lines of “Hey super sweet guy, you’re the bestest ever!!!” Jessica means everything the card says. However, the card does not say “I Love You.” This was deliberate. It’s not that Jessica doesn’t love her boyfriend, she totally does. It’s just, even though it’s been about six months, they haven’t said “I love you” yet. She doesn’t really feel it’s her place to say it first, because she knows she feels it, but she doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him or freak him out. Jessica is “easy going” and realizes that for boys, big words like “love” can be scary. She wanted to get him a card that said “I love you” but thought about it and decided this Snoopy card was perfect, because it conveyed in a cute and approachable way that she does love him without actually going there.

“Oh thanks,” he says, or something probably along those lines.

The boyfriend then opens the box. It is a nerf gun. It’s a really nice nerf gun, like one of the more expensive ones that shoots sixty bullets at a time or something like that. Jessica Cabot is a pretty cool girlfriend, she’d like to think.

Presents exchanged, the two finally leave the parking garage to see a movie. The movie they are seeing is Valentine’s Day, a little to Jessica’s dismay if she’s honest, but her boyfriend decided that’s what they would do. Because if Jessica is honest, she thinks the movie looks kind of shitty and unenjoyable. She wouldn’t want to go see this movie on her own accord. She realizes too that her boyfriend would also probably rather not see this movie. She even told him, “No, we really don’t have to see it!” but he insisted. She finds it sweet that he insisted though, because she knows he picked the movie just because he imagines it’s what she wants to do. Even though it is not really the movie she would want to see, she appreciates what the gesture means. It’s the thought that counts.

Jessica and her boyfriend finally sit in the theater to see Valentine’s Day. As predicted, it is an awful piece of shit. Jessica holds her boyfriend’s hand for the first thirty minutes or so of the movie, and then the movie becomes about people breaking up and cheating on each other. Jessica starts to feel immensely uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to imagine breaking up with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day! Why does she have to sit here and face the fact that most relationships don’t last and that people break up and cheat on each other? She really doesn’t want to have to watch this shit. She starts to feel depressed. What if she and her boyfriend broke up? All the people in this movie are doing it. She doesn’t want to imagine the possibility, and yet here she is, sitting in a theater with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, watching a movie called Valentine’s Day in which everyone hates each other. She hates the movie.

Jessica’s boyfriend shifts in his seat and removes his hand from hers. He sits firmly in his own seat, even though that little armrest thing is up so they could technically cuddle. Jessica sits awkwardly in her seat, noticing his sudden shift in position. Why isn’t he holding her hand? Are all of these people in this movie breaking up making him think about breaking up with her? But she doesn’t want him to break up with her! She has a boyfriend! If he broke up with her she would be single! Jessica doesn’t want to have to be single again. Jessica feels like she wants to cry. She nudges a little closer to him to try to get him to be more intimate with her, but he either ignores her advances or doesn’t want to hold hands. Jessica’s chest begins to pound. Why did he shift in his seat? Why isn’t he holding her hand? Why isn’t he sitting closer to her? Why is he sitting so far away, even though the armrest is up? This movie sucks. Maybe he hates the movie too. Jessica really hates it. She feels depressed and anxious.

The movie finally ends and Jessica looks at her boyfriend. He is stoic and unmoved by the movie. To be fair he is usually slightly robotic.

“Uh, it was okay, I don’t know, I kind of…,” Jessica doesn’t know what to say. The movie was a god-awful motherfucking piece of awkward, depressing, poorly produced shit. But she doesn’t know if she can admit it since he picked the movie for her, thinking that she wanted to see it.

They go eat dinner and have a reasonable conversation. Jessica feels uneasy because she thought she noticed some tension inside the movie theater. She doesn’t know where the tension came from, since nothing changed for her, but her boyfriend seems considerably more distant. Things feel strained.

Jessica and her boyfriend go back to the parking garage.

“Hey, so, um, I don’t want to like, impose, but, do you think that maybe we could like, I don’t know, go back to your place?”

Jessica lives with her parents and so inviting her boyfriend back to her place is unfortunately not an option. She would however, she thinks, like to celebrate the rest of this Valentine’s Day in some of it’s more traditional fashions.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh. It’s just… I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to spend more time with you? I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to like…”

Jessica is nervous. She wants to fuck her boyfriend, that is what she is trying to get at. Jessica Cabot would like to find a bed in the city of Los Angeles where she can have sex with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. However, she is terrified of coming off as “clingy” or “needy” or “demanding.” Aren’t those the things that scare guys away? Those are the girls that guys break up with. And Jessica is “easy going.” Those are the ones guy’s want to keep, right? She doesn’t want to ask too much of him.

“It’s just that my roommates are home and I was just planning on hanging out with you here and then going home.”

This is a common theme with Jessica’s boyfriend. His roommates are a constant issue that comes up when she wants to come over and spend the night. She feels a little disappointed that her boyfriend would rather spend time with his roommates than fucking her, or at least that’s how she perceives it, but she tries to be easy going, because she is easy going.

“We can hang out in the car for a little bit,” he offers.

Jessica and her boyfriend make out in the backseat of the car. It is awkward and tight. They park on the roof of the building for “privacy”. Jessica feels uncomfortable having to make out in the car because technically they are still in public and someone could see them. She wishes she had an apartment, but she doesn’t have a full time job yet so she can’t afford to not live in her parent’s house. She wishes her boyfriend would just let her come over so he could fuck her, but he doesn’t seem to want to. Jessica gives him a blowjob in the car anyway, because she is a good girlfriend, she thinks. There is still a lot of tension between them, and Jessica can’t figure out what it is that seems wrong. She asks him a lot of inane questions like “What are you thinking?” hoping to figure out what could be wrong between them that is making their interactions feel so strained and awkward.

February 14, 2011

It is a year later, and Jessica has finally figured out that the reason things were so strained and awkward with her boyfriend last Valentine’s Day was probably something to do with the fact that he must just not have liked her that much. They broke up exactly 14 days ago. It was a really bad break up. Jessica was sad and hurt. She tried really hard to be what she thought was a good girlfriend, but no matter what she did he didn’t seem to love her more.

Jessica realizes now, a year later, that it a wasn’t a great relationship for either of them. She wasn’t getting what she needed, and felt like she was giving a lot that he wasn’t able to reciprocate. It probably should have ended a year ago, instead of 14 days ago, she thinks.

She tries her best not to demonize him or to blame him for everything, but she is hurt and exhausted.

She figures the best thing for her to do at this juncture in her life is to move on. She has started a new job, finally, and is therefore meeting a lot of new people. One of them is a guy who asked her out on a date. She had originally said no, because she was with her boyfriend, but now that she is single she figures she can.

She is not really sure how she feels about this guy. He seems okay. She doesn’t know him that well, if she is honest. He is sarcastic, which she appreciates, because she thinks she is sarcastic and likes it when she can relate to people. It’s a little refreshing, in fact. Her ex-boyfriend was not very sarcastic or cynical at all, and would often make fun of her for her dark comments. Being around a guy who she can commiserate with is refreshing.

She worries maybe she’s not actually ready to date anyone though. She did only break up with her boyfriend of a year and a half 14 days ago, and even though their relationship was strained and difficult there were things she liked about him.

The guy Jessica works with invites her over to his place for Valentine’s Day. They had been talking about smoking weed and the movie Smiley Face, and so he proposes that she come over to his place on Valentine’s Day to watch said movie and get stoned with him. Jessica thinks this over and agrees. She really wants to move on, and she really wants to get to know this guy better so she can. Maybe he’s better than her ex-boyfriend! Plus, she figures, they are just getting to know each other. This is practically a first or second date since they’ve really only hung out a few times. As first or second dates go, she thinks, everyone knows that the whole point is just to get to know each other, and not to try to bone or anything. Jessica is not ready to bone anyone new.

She also thinks of this Valentine’s Day proposal as a nice gesture. She figures that the point is legitimately just to get stoned and to commiserate about being single. That’s nice, she thinks. Single people can be lonely and miserable together! She really wants to move on, and also really doesn’t want to be alone.

Jessica goes over to the guy’s house, as proposed, but as she drives up she starts to feel weird about it. She starts to worry that perhaps this was a bad idea after all. She doesn’t want to lead him on, but she also figures that he knows she just broke up with her ex-boyfriend, and so he must understand that she’s in a weird place. She doesn’t want to not go out with him, but she doesn’t want to lead him on. She figures, once again, that since they are just getting to know each other she is over-thinking this. She’s being presumptuous. Maybe he’s not even that interested. She’s just assuming things now. He could just legitimately want to be friends. Friends that get high together on Valentine’s Day. She figures it’s thoughts like these that are why men say women are crazy psycho bitches.

Jessica enters. He hugs her awkwardly. She doesn’t know if she’s ready for hugs yet. Maybe this was a bad idea, she worries. He seems okay though. He’s sarcastic! She’s sarcastic! They already have at least one thing in common. He gives her a $10 iTunes gift card one of his co-workers gave him at work. Jessica feels awkward. She doesn’t want this. This is technically a first date. You are not supposed to give someone a gift on a first date, it’s just too much. It’s a nice gesture, but it makes her uncomfortable. This wasn’t supposed to be a date! Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day. What is she doing? She’s confused and anxious. She doesn’t want to be alone necessarily, but realistically she doesn’t know this guy very well at all. It’s too much. Gifts, even re-gifts, are something couples do on Valentine’s Day, not something lonely single people do when commiserating.

She decides the best thing to do in this instance would be to get stoned. They do. Jessica is stoned. Being stoned predictably does not make all of her feelings and problems go away as she always sort of hopes it will, but instead it just makes her less in control of herself and therefore less comfortable in this environment she is already uncomfortable in. She proposes they get dinner at McDonald’s, because that is what stoned people do, and McDonald’s is unromantic and the sort of place that lonely friends would go to together because they are fat and lonely and miserable and stoned. She hopes that the choice of McDonald’s sends the right message.

They return to the apartment with McDonald’s in tow. The ride over was awkward. She was really stoned and so felt a little more weirdly philosophical about her situation than she normally would if she were not stoned. She realizes that she really wants to like this guy, primarily because she does not want to be alone. Jessica suspects this could be a problem of hers. Maybe she keeps settling for the wrong guys who she is not really that into in the first place because she doesn’t want to be alone, and maybe that’s why she keeps ending up with “losers” or “jerks.” She doesn’t want to have to face her demons though, and so hopes that maybe this guy is just somehow amazing even though she is completely unsure about him and totally not over her ex-boyfriend.

She proposes they start to watch Smiley Face. Smiley Face had been her recommendation because it is her favorite movie ever, stoned or not, and with a movie on they won’t have to talk. They watch Smiley Face but the guy does not laugh much at it, which freaks Jessica out, and so she doesn’t know what to do. Smiley Face is the most fucking hysterical movie ever created in the history of cinema. She doesn’t know how to react to someone who is not reacting strongly to this movie. He laughs a bit, but she feels edgy. She consumes her McDonald’s intently, like someone who is trying to avoid the world by eating her fears in the form of highly processed chicken nuggets. She is stoned, and normally one would think that being stoned would make Chicken McNuggets taste like the most amazing thing in the world, but instead she thinks she can taste the chicken bones and chicken eyes ground up into it.

She stares at the screen. She notices that the guy is inching ever so slowly towards her. She tries to inch away, giving an indication that whatever he is inching towards is not something she is interested in right now. She starts to freak out. She’s not ready for this. If she’s honest, she’s not very attracted to this guy. He’s okay, she thinks, but she’s starting to feel way too much pressure. In retrospect, she shouldn’t have come over today. She thought they were just commiserating? She doesn’t know what she really thought, she is confused. They haven’t even gotten to know each other, what is he doing sitting closer to her on a couch like they know each other? It’s her fault, she shouldn’t have been so stupid as to accept an invitation to his place. She should have known better, she thinks.

As Jessica sits on the couch, the guy inches closer and closer and closer and closer and she leans further and further and further away but no amount of leaning is any match for his inching, and eventually his arm is around her. Jessica gasps for air as though she is drowning. Stoned thoughts of her ex-boyfriend accumulate in her mind. “I’m not over him, I still love him, he still feels like home,” she realizes in this moment as some guy she doesn’t know super well and with whom she is not that comfortable with wraps his arm around her.

She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, where she remains stoned and sad and freaked out and uncomfortable and awkward. She wants to cry, but she is too stoned to cry, so instead she stares in the mirror and manages to get one tear out. There, that confirms it. Jessica Cabot has made a huge fucking mistake, as she is bound to do. She always does this. She always hopes that maybe dates at houses where two people get stoned are just somehow two people getting to know each other instead of someone trying to make out with her while she is stoned and realizes she is not over someone else.

She would like to leave at this juncture, but is stoned and responsibly feels like maybe she should not drive. She returns to the couch, hoping that if she sits far enough away he’ll get the hint and not try any funny business again. He immediately tries funny business again and puts his arm back around her after inching his way over towards her on the couch.

She spends a good two hours sitting there while they watch Groundhogs Day now, with his arm around her, pondering the many ways in which she is not over her ex-boyfriend and the many ways in which this has been a mistake. She wants to move on, and she wants to like someone new, and she wants to be over her ex-boyfriend, and she wants to be okay being single, but it feels daunting. This doesn’t feel right, she realizes. She feels pressured by this guy, who seems to not be getting her hints that she wants more space, and she is too stoned and awkward to speak up and say what she means.

Jessica finally leaves the apartment after a while with an abrupt, short, awkward hug intended to avoid the possibility of a kiss.

Her life goes on, and she is single for a considerable time. And somehow in the middle of all these Valentine’s Days she learns what it is like to be with someone who would never make her watch the movie Valentine’s Day or not fuck her because his roommates are home. She learns what it is like to be with someone whom she wants to put his arm around her, because she learned how to wait for things instead of jumping into things 14 days after the last one ended. Most importantly, she thinks, she learned she can be single and alone and okay being happy living her life without a dude. She still likes dudes and would like to be with the right dude one day, but she no longer feels like being single on Valentine’s Day is the worst thing in the world. She no longer feels sorry for all those girls who do not have boyfriends to sit with in parking garages on Valentine’s Day, but instead feels sorry for the girls who try to force their relationships to be something they aren’t, or who compromise their feelings to the point that they would try to like a guy who doesn’t get Smiley Face just so they don’t have to be alone.

Jessica, long after she has left the uncomfortable apartment where she got stoned to avoid the realities of life, sits in her room sober and sees on Facebook, of all things, that one of the security guards she used to work with posted this status on the eve of those frightful attempts to make Valentine’s Day feel like what she thought it was supposed to feel like: “Being single doesn’t mean that you know nothing about love. Sometimes, being solo is wiser than being in a false relationship.”

She thinks the words ring true, finally.

February 14, 2012

Jessica Cabot doesn’t give a fuck.


This Is Pretty Important