Friday, February 12, 2010

My Bloody Valentine

Taken from Gawker's Valentine's Day horror stories, though we kind of doubt the fact-checkers are working round the clock on these ones.

I was 25, recently out of law school and a relationship I was sure would end in marriage, and I was working in a firm that I absolutely despised. I was heartbroken, disenchanted, and, at a fundamental level, bored with life. So I signed up for an online dating service.

After a number of forgettable dates with various mid-level managers, radiologists, IT guys, technical writers, and random other guys lost in the same sort of personal and professional morass of their 20s, seeking some sort of connection, I met a guy who was totally not my type. He’d recently quit his corporate job to start his own business, was about a decade older than me, and couldn’t properly conjugate the verb to take, leading my best friend to call him Captain Tooken.

The Captain and I saw each other irregularly at first. I was still drinking at the time, and in retrospect he was a second or third generation alcoholic, so our dates generally consisted of hanging out, drinking a lot, and not much else. Eventually a pattern emerged- we’d go out, see a movie or a show, have dinner, maybe hang out at his place, and at the end of the night he’d put me in my car and say goodnight, without even a kiss. (Drinking and driving is bad, children). After the fourth or fifth time this happened, it started to intrigue me that the Captain hadn’t made any sort of physical move, and this intrigue kept me in the quasi-relationship. As I mentioned above, I was feeling pretty jaded and numb, so anything out of the ordinary was enough to catch my attention. I had a blog at the time and would detail these dates, and had a crowd of internet strangers weighing in on why the Captain hadn’t tried anything physical yet. Some thought gay, others thought he was recovering from a bad relationship, I didn’t really care because suddenly I had something vaguely novel going on in my life.

Fast forward six months (yes, really). Captain Tooken still has not so much as kissed me, and is still walking me to my car after every date- now once a week or more- and hugging me goodnight. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I wonder if this is going to change anything in our chaste goodnight dance. The blogosphere is getting restless, and encouraging me to take him down in the street like a wildebeest, all tongue and sexual frustration, the next time he walks me to my car.

The Captain tells me a few days before the big day that he will be away with his dad, so can’t do anything, but would like to make it up to me by taking me out a few nights before. We go to a notorious dive bar in our city for blues and PBR tall boys. It was an inauspicious time of the month for me, but I didn’t think anything of it given the nature of our relationship. His brother, sister-in-law, and mother all come to the bar that night, and pretty soon I am absolutely wasted (as is the rest of the family) and basking in the drunken warm feeling of being introduced to his family and everyone liking me, and all of us ordering next round after next round.

I wake up in the cold light of earliest morning in a room I don’t recognize, no clothes, my head banging with pain, with that absolutely certain feeling that I have done something I will regret. I turn my head an inch, despite the screaming hangover, and there is the Captain in bed next to me. The situation hits me in a rush. I lift up the sheets and see blood, everywhere. It looks like someone has slaughtered a pig on the bed. I slip out of the sheets and sneak off to bathroom to clean myself up, passing our clothes in the hallway, on the stairs. I realize I can’t even sneak out to my car and drive home because we’ve left my car at the bar on the other side of town. I do my best in the half bath and then slip back into the bed, careful not to wake up the Captain.

I feign sleep until he wakes up, looks around, gasps, and heads for the shower. I commence to stripping the bed (the mattress is in the condition you would expect), stuffing the sheets in the washer, finding his linen closet for fresh sheets, realizing the only other set of sheets he owns are twin size and won’t fit the bed, and eventually just throw the comforter over the worst of the scene and get dressed. It doesn’t dawn on me to flip the mattress until he has already turned off the shower and I don’t have enough time. By the time he comes out of the bathroom I’m downstairs on the couch, fully dressed, ready to get the hell out of dodge. We make small talk and he repeatedly asks me if I’d like to take a shower, and eventually we go to breakfast, all because I am trying so hard to not acknowledge the abattoir conditions I woke up to that I can’t manage much else, and at long last I am free and go home and fixate on what the hell.

We end up dating for another year, and neither one of us ever mentions our Valentine’s Day massacre. I never have the nerve to ask if he bought a new mattress or not.

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