This is NOT a picture of me from Valentine’s Day, 2014. This is a picture of what was supposed to happen on Valentine’s Day 2014.
It’s the second week of February, which means it’s time for everyone to start BITCHING ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY HATE VALENTINE’S DAY. People I implore you — don’t yuck somebody else’s yum!
You wail, But Meghan! Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday! And to you I say, I have some BAAAAD NEWS about literally all the other holidays. Literally, all of them.
But seriously, can’t you just ignore the day, and pretend it’s an ordinary Tuesday, with your mouth SHUT so that other people can enjoy the day??? Because SOME OF US actually go to great lengths to enjoy Valentine’s Day. And trust me, you probably can’t top my worst Valentine’s Day ever.
So for Valentine’s Day, 2014, my boyfriend at the time hatched a plan: we would ride the NJ Transit to a famous comic book shop and spend the day in town.
Then, Valentine’s weekend, a massive blizzard hit New York City. Feet of show, slush, winds and cold. We said “No thanks,” and decided to weather the storm (ha!) at my apartment with some Whole Foods takeout.
Coincidentally, this is not just the story of the Worst Valentine’s Day Ever, this is also the story of how I found out that Whole Foods’ tofu from the salad bar contains gluten. And oh, did I ever.
You know the kind of diarrhea that happens simultaneous with vomiting? If you do, then you’ve probably had a couple of THOSE types of scars on your forehead — the cut that you get when you literally PASS OUT face-first into the plastic trash can on your lap while sitting on the toilet. Yep, that spot right between the eyebrows, that’s where the sharp plastic rim of your bathroom trash can will cut into your face, leaving you with a Frida Kahlo brow of shame. All of this while hot tears roll down your face and the room gets fuzzy around the edges, because you can’t keep anything down and you’re completely exhausted from shitting your vital life force out.
After several hours of this, I decided it was too exhausting to keep running from the living room, where my date was watching Netflix, to the bathroom, so I curled up on the tile floor in fetal position, grabbing and kneading my stomach in the hopes of massaging the pain away.
My cell phone rings. It’s my parents! Calling to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day?
They’re calling to tell me that the family dog, sweet Charlie, has taken a turn for the worse. They’re taking him to be put down the next day. “Are you okay?” my mom asks, gauging my reaction to this horrible news. I try to convey that I am as okay as I can be, on the floor of my bathroom, trying to pass what feels like a freight train through my anal sphincter on the Most Romantic Day of the Year. “I have to go,” I tell her, leaving it open for her to interpret whether I simply mean that I have to go, or that I have to go.
The phone rings again. It’s gotta be my parents! I swipe to answer without looking at the screen.
If I had looked at the screen, it would have warned me that I was getting a call from a Brooklyn area code, and a number that was unfamiliar to me.
Guess who! Oh, it’s my literal stalker. He’s calling on Valentine’s Day from a new number, for the second year in a row, after I told him never to contact me again and threatened to take my case to the police! Well, he just wanted to say —
I hang up. I am way too distraught and indigestion-ey to deal with this right now. I block the number quickly, and crawl back to the toilet.
After I think I’ve got the “all clear” from my digestive tract, I take a futile shot of Pepto, tell my boyfriend I need to lie down, and take my phone into my bedroom, about to take a stomach-achey nap, when the phone rings.
It’s my dad. Charlie didn’t make it. Best they can tell, he laid down to take a rest and went peacefully in his sleep. Through my dad’s sobbing on the phone, I assure him that this was for the best. Neither he nor my mom had to go through the trauma of putting him down at the vet’s. I hate listening to my dad cry. I hate that I couldn’t be there. I feel helpless all over again, but I can’t cry because I used up all my tears having the most blindingly painful bowel movement I think I’ve ever had in my life earlier in the day. We say goodbye.
It’s late now. My Valentine’s date is asleep on the living room sofa, dozing off to standup comedy specials. I try to find a comfortable position to join him, but it’s pretty much useless — as was trying to enjoy the day. My dog is dead. My stalker is back. And I’m pretty sure my boyfriend knows that I poop now?
What’s the moral of the story of The Worst Valentine’s Day Ever? I guess, if anything, it must be this: if you build something up in your head to be perfect, you’re only going to be disappointed. Or maybe, if you plan something and it doesn’t go according to your plans, you can’t get upset about it, because there are way worse things to get upset about. And especially this: If you’re gluten intolerant, STAY AWAY FROM THE WHOLE FOODS HOT BAR. For serious, man, that was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my whole adult life.
But a couple of weeks later, we did go to New Jersey, as you can see from the photo. The scar from passing out headfirst in my puke bucket went away. And you know how my stalker situation resolved. And you know what? Valentine’s Day 2015 was lovely. And so was 2016. Everyone was fine, and nobody died or got diarrhea or feared for their life and safety.
Maybe the key to enjoying Valentine’s Day is to not set your bar for expectations too high. Set your bar at Valentine’s Day 2014 level. And if a blizzard hits and you are stuck in your apartment with stomach cramps and diarrhea, celebrate on the 15th. That’s when candy goes on sale, anyway. Hey, if I can live through Valentine’s Day 2014 and still look forward to the Cupids and Hearts every year, you can at least keep your whining about “Hallmark holidays” to yourself. Don’t come for Valentine’s Day on MY WATCH. V-Day may have done me dirty in the past, but I’m still gonna smile through today and genuinely wish you ALL THE LOVE AND HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD.
And you know something? Pepto Bismol is pink. So I say it counts as a festive “holiday” beverage.