To everyone who can’t do Valentine’s Day right: I see you

Fingers art of happy couple. Concept of man confessing his love to woman.
(Mukhina1/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

From peppermint schnapps to a queasy cruise: a reflection on past Valentine’s Day experiences.


Valentine’s Day is a holiday for extroverts. Aggressive courting, grand gestures, cheesy gifts — it’s like someone turned the day up to eleven. If the holiday could be personified, it would be a newly divorced dad doing donuts in a red convertible outside of his new girlfriend’s house, attempting to draw hearts with burnt rubber. And because I skew toward introverted, it all makes me a little uncomfortable.

However, that’s not to say I don’t like Valentine’s Day (although, let’s be honest: it has the worst seasonal candy of any holidays). The trouble is, I’m just not good at Valentine’s Day. For proof, I decided to dig up some traumatic highlights from the ol’ memory bank.

2001: This was the first year I had an actual, flesh-and-blood girlfriend (not a pillow!). In true gentlemanly fashion, I took her to the best moderately priced Italian restaurant in Park City, Utah. Afterwards, we went back to my mom’s house to watch a movie that I felt showcased my refined film taste: A Simple Plan, a dark tale of three men whose lives spiral into bloodshed after finding a bag of money in the woods. Nothing says romance like exploring moral depravity and the darkness of men’s hearts.

2003: In my senior year of high school, I started taking medication to clear up the acne that had riddled my back and face since age 11. I was deep into treatment when Valentine’s Day rolled around and my body was having all sorts of strange reactions. The prescribed cream gave me a rash that gave me a bad-guy-in-Home-Alone-after-getting-hit-with-iron look, and the pills suppressed my appetite. At dinner, I pushed away my plate of spicy ziti (oh god, why did I order ziti) and said, “It’s because of the acne medication.” Romanceville: population me.

2006: I brought a bottle of peppermint schnapps to visit a girl I had been trying to date because I thought it’d be cute to make boozy peppermint cocoa. We ended up sitting around with her roommates — everyone silently watching the Torino Olympics. Upon realizing that she had absolutely zero interest in me, I left and took the bottle with me. At home, there was no cocoa mix, so I drank the schnapps straight.

2011: I thought a Valentine’s cruise around San Diego Bay would be the ultimate romantic gesture, but it turned out to be a breakfast buffet cruise, which is like experiencing Vegas while being kind of seasick the entire time. By no means do I consider myself a snappy dresser, but I looked felt like a regular Don Juan compared my fellow shorts-and-flip-flops-wearing seafarers — all of whom were ravaging the all-you-can-eat sausage links and lukewarm eggs. But after the third glass of Champagne, the cruise began to take on a trashy charm. Although it’s hard to gaze lovingly into your partner’s eyes on a rocking boat, it inadvertently became one of the most memorable Valentine’s Days.

So, happy VD to those who can’t do it right. Never change. And if any of you lovebirds want to borrow my copy of A Simple Plan, just let me know.

For more awkwardness, Follow Ryan on Twitter @theryanbradford and subscribe to his newsletter at