Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Funny Valentine

Valentine's Day

If you are like me, these two words mean the following:

-Large boxes of chocolate shaped like a heart
-Artificially colored roses and carnations
-Schmoopy couples out at the restaurants
-Candy hearts with fortunes


-a night in with the friends.

I have never had a Valentine's Day that fit into the cliche idea of what V-day is supposed to be. Of course, I say -- I wouldn't want that anyway. Who wants too sweet, artificial, and corny? Not me -- Well...that's not necessarily true. 

As a writer and an avid reader of YA books, I am not immune to the poison of romance. In fact, I only enjoy books, movies, and songs if they are somehow related to LOVE. That feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach when the love interest finally shows their affection. That moment when the walls come crumbling down and all that is left are two people madly in love. That ache when they are torn apart seconds after they confess their true desires! This is love. Right? 

I have fallen in love over a hundred times. Let me rephrase, I have fallen in love over a hundred times with fictional characters. The nature of a good book is one that makes you feel all of the emotions their characters are exuding at every given moment. And if well done, the love transcends the page and manifests itself in your own heart. 

And of course the romance for the girl is usually pretty easy. And if it is typical of the trends, there is probably a love triangle. Not only does she get to pick from gorgeous guy #1, she can also have handsome guy #2. Really? How is this fair? Someone is always going to get the short end of the stick-- know who that isn't? The girl with her pick of guy. Blech. But one guy is going home alone. And usually to simplify things that guy might not even make it home at all if you know what I mean. Yup, he gets killed. But each of these guys is more perfect than the next. And we, the reader, fall for them time and time again. 

A trend that I've really been enjoying recently is the more realistic guy. The guy with flaws. And I don't mean flaws like glittering in the sun. That's not a flaw. I mean like real human imperfections. Some of the best portrayals of imperfections are in contemporary books. Etienne St. Clair (Anna and the French Kiss) had already won my heart before I realized how short he was. His height didn't matter. My new favorite guy, Oliver (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) is not perfect. Sure he is adorable and nice. But we see him through Hadley's eyes. She likes him. And what she likes about him is that he is a bit lopsided. He isn't perfect and Hadley doesn't need him to be. 

Too often, we (girls) get caught up in this perfect image of what we are looking for. He needs to be driven, 5' 11'', brown hair, blue eyes, preferably good abs. He has to wear cool shoes and well fitting clothes. He has to get along with all of your friends and family. He should play the piano. Maybe volunteer at the homeless shelter. Likes thai food. Wants to travel. He reads Harry Potter. He went to Paris and his favorite painting at the Louvre was the Van Gogh, same as yours. He loves the sunrise and the color green. He needs glasses only when he drives at night and watches movies. 

Suddenly, we have so many ideas of what we are looking for that nobody we meet can ever live up to these standards. And then these standards become a defense mechanism. If nobody is ever as good as we want them to be then we never have to put ourselves out there.  We fall in love with the waiter at a coffee shop because no matter how many times we pretend like we might actually get to know him, he will always be perfectly out of reach. We fall in love with the hundreds of book boys because obviously we never have to feel rejected by them. 

But life isn't a series of perfect events woven together by an author. It is just life. We can't predict the ending. We can't create Mr. Perfect. And we probably don't want to kill off guy #2 just to simplify things. 

All we can do is live. And live openly to the opportunities that face us everyday. Live openly to the guy with powdered donut on his shirt because he might just be your soul mate. Maybe let him wear ugly sneakers because he really makes you smile. 

So to the young, old, single or taken, Happy Valentine's Day. May you leave behind your perfect idea of happily ever after and open yourself to the imperfections that only really living can bring you. 

May it be a schmoopy night out with your guy who likes the color blue instead of green or a night in with friends, enjoy it, for it is life. 


  1. I just read this post for the first time (a few days late). You definitely do not get enough credit for your wisdom. It kinda made my day. Love you!


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