Is Valentine’s Day Really That Big of a Deal?

Being happily married, I acknowledge Valentine’s Day, and usually try to do something a little special for my wife on or around that day.  Being perpetually broke, it usually isn’t some extravagant gift or extremely fancy dinner out (especially when all the restaurants are packed), but I try and do something.

But for the last week, everybody has been posting about Valentine’s Day as if it is either the greatest day in the history of the world, or the worst day.  And I guess it could be either of those things…if you’re in a shitty relationship.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a good relationship, your significant other will know the way you feel about her/him/it every day of the year.  Sure, you can go a little bit beyond on the day assigned by the greeting card companies to express that love, but if your significant other is expecting some extravagant gift or outing, and putting a price on your success or failure at presenting said gift or outing, you are with the wrong person.  Either that, or you are doing a piss-poor job at expressing your feelings for your significant other every other day of the year.

I could try to get my wife flowers, but I am not supposed to be around flowers due to risk of infection.  Cut flowers usually have fungus on them and in my state I need to avoid that.

I could get her an overpriced box of chocolates, maybe in the shape of a heart, but that is just too common.

I could buy her a sappy greeting card to express how I feel about her using someone else’s words, but then that wouldn’t really be from me, would it?

I could use all of the money we have remaining for basic necessities for the month and blow it on shiny rocks that are made artificially rare and dug out of the ground by near (or sometimes more than near) slave laborers.  They could be extremely flawed, once only good enough for industrial applications, and then marketed as “chocolate” to sell the glut of worthless rocks in the way of the less-flawed rocks.  You know what though?  Knowing my wife, I think she’d rather eat for the rest of the month.

Will I do something special for her, over and beyond the regular?  Yeah, I think so, but it won’t be something that she can then compare with her friends and brag about me.  If you think about it, that’s what a lot of the typical Valentine’s Day gifts really end up accomplishing.  Bragging rights for the recipient.  I’m not exactly sure what I will do yet, but I’m not worried about it.

The reason I’m not worried about it is that she should never have a reason to need me to express my feelings to her on this day, because I try and do something for her every single day.  It may not be big, expensive, or even a gift, but it is always something that she can look back on, and know that she is very loved.

So to the people in relationships who are currently freaking out over this day, get over it.  If you’re going to be in some sort of trouble for not living up to the expectations that are placed by some on this day, are you really with the right person?  Are you showing that person that every single day is Valentine’s Day?  Do you try to make your significant other feel special every day?  Do they do the same for you?  If not, what is the point?  Are you just afraid to be alone?

Don’t be afraid to be alone.  Being alone can be fun.  It gives you a chance to become a person other good people will want in their lives.  It happened to me.  I spent the last few years of my first marriage losing my identity to becoming one half of the relationship.  In losing myself, I likely lost the part of me that my wife was initially attracted to.  (Though there were other issues I won’t go into because I learned so much from that experience that I hold no ill will.)  It wasn’t until I was single and a good friend of mine helped me rediscover who I was that I became someone who was attractive again.  I was okay alone.  That set me up for meeting my wife.  I vowed that while compromise on some issues is okay, and even necessary for a healthy relationship; I will never lose my core self to one again.  I have to say, it’s working out brilliantly so far.

To you single people out there, being reminded of your singleness by this day, don’t fret.  Those people in the stores with the flowers and candy in their arms aren’t necessarily happier than you.  Hell, they aren’t even necessarily less lonely than you.  Those couples out at the packed fancy restaurants?  Look at them closely.  Some barely talk.  They are going through the motions.  On this day, more than any other, you will see the obligated ones.  The ones who need to do these things, to keep up the illusion.  Do you really want to be one of them?

I like being married to my wife.  I truly love her.  If I didn’t, or I didn’t really believe she loved me, I’d much rather be single.

So this Valentine’s Day, remember that the only really significant thing about it, is that a lot of gangster’s got shot against a wall once.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all, I guess.

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When the Cat’s Away…

When the cat’s away, the mice will sleep in.  The smaller mice, who happen to be actual cats will decide to be little brats who don’t want to sleep on the bed in order to show their anger over the cat being away.  They will also fight with each other for seemingly no reason.  They will come in the kitchen when the larger mouse is dishing out their food, even though they know they are not supposed to, and even though the larger mouse’s voice is usually sufficient to keep them from the kitchen, when the cat is dishing out their food.  I guess they believe they outnumber the larger mouse.  Size does not enter into any consideration when the cat is away, apparently.  The larger mouse is considered to be just another mouse when the cat’s away.

When the cat’s away, the larger mouse will make his own coffee.  It is plenty good, (he taught the cat, after all), but there is something special about having the cat bring him a coffee in the morning.  When the cat’s away, the love is missing from the cup.

When the cat’s away, yes the mice will play.  The larger mouse will still use the wand toy to play with the smaller mice.  He will still play and get them running and jumping, but without the cat laughing at their antics, it just isn’t as fun.

When the cat’s away, The Price Is Right won’t be as fun.  The cat won’t be able to somehow tell the contestant what to bid when she says what she would bid, even when they’re both wrong.  The cat won’t smile and cheer when someone gets their new car.  The larger mouse will notice the absence and be sad, instead of happy.

When the cat’s away, the mice will not be helpless.  Even the larger mouse, is beginning to be okay to be able to do things on his own.  Even after all the damage.  The mouse will be okay for a few days.  The mouse will be able to feed himself, and the smaller mice.  The mouse will summon the energy to go to the store, (at a time when nobody else is out), & pick up enough things to sustain the mice until the cat returns.   The mouse will actually get a few things done.  Then the mouse will collapse in exhaustion.  When the cat’s away, the mice will be okay.

When the cat’s away, the mice will have confirmation that they do not need, but want the cat in their lives.

When the cat’s away, the smaller mice will go from room to room searching for her.  The larger mouse will notice, and miss the cat even more.  The small female mouse, will find a piece of the cat’s clothing, and sleep on it, to have the cat’s smell close by.

When the cat’s away, the mice hope she has a nice trip, but admit they can’t wait for her return.  When the cat’s away the mice will try to distract themselves the best they can from the sadness they feel.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play their music a bit louder than normal.  The music will be all the songs that the cat typically isn’t too fond of.  When the cat’s away, the mice will sing.  They will sing at the top of their voices.  A chorus of off-key dissonance punctuated with sweet meows.

When the cat’s away, life does go on.  When the cat’s away, the mice will exercise if they can find the energy, without feeling embarrassed.  When the cat’s away, the guitar will be played.  When the cat’s away, the mice will nap whenever they feel they need to.  When the cat’s away, the shows the cat likes to watch to make herself cry will not be on.

When the cat’s away, the larger mouse will begin the countdown of days until the cat’s return.  The larger mouse will advise the smaller mice of the remaining time until the cat’s return.  He will do this every time he notices the smaller mice seem sad.  He will also do this every time he is sad.  The smaller mice likely get tired of hearing this, or don’t understand anyway, but the larger mouse feels obligated to let them know the cat’s absence is just temporary.

The larger mouse realizes that he doesn’t refer to her as a cat.  He has called her many things, but anything to do with a cat isn’t one of them.  He also doesn’t consider himself or his actual cat’s to be mice, but there is no saying for, “If the Bear is away, the human and cats will play.”  So he decides to stick with the cat-mouse analogy.

When the cat’s away, the larger mouse will hesitate to start the much needed packing for when the cat and the mice relocate for good.  When the cat’s away, he just won’t know what should be boxed, and what should be donated/thrown out.  When the cat’s away, the larger mouse won’t want to freak out the other mice by boxing everything up.

When the cat’s away, the mice will sleep better, because the cat’s allergies cause her to toss and turn to breathe better, keeping the mice awake.  The mice might sleep better, but wake up wishing the cat were waking up with them, even if it means waking up every few hours during the night.

When the cat’s away, she will have a much-needed break from years of stress.  When the cat’s away, she will visit with friends and family.  When the cat’s away, she will be able to hang out with her sister, and they will have a blast.  When the cat’s away, the mice will be happy for her.

But when the cat’s away, the mice will miss her very much, and can’t wait until her return in just a couple days.

When the cat’s away, she’ll still know she’s loved.

Comfortable

When Josh left for The Underground that first night, he did not have the purest intentions.  He was looking for a good time.  After his divorce, the furthest thing from his mind was a relationship.  To be honest, he had sworn off relationships all together.  He was looking for a good time.  He was not desperate or immoral enough to take advantage of one of the Woo-girls, but he wanted nothing more than casual fun.

Even after being so intrigued by the strange “Hold me like a baby” incident, and the beautiful woman who said those words to him; and even after pursuing her at The Cantina Los Tres Hombres, the great chemistry, and their amazing kiss, he wasn’t looking for anything serious.

Josh was never the type of guy who enjoyed one-night-stands either.  He was not the “player” type (or whatever term the kids use today).  He didn’t want to take advantage of anyone, he just wanted to keep things casual.  He wondered for a brief second if that was something he’d have to explain to her, but put it out of his mind as they left the now out of business Cantina for the last time.

Josh had consumed a few drinks and was just about to ask for Hannah’s phone number, so he could give her one final kiss goodbye before calling a cab to take him home.  He did kiss her again, but was interrupted by, “Hey!  What are you doing?”

“What?”  Josh asked his friend as he pulled his lips from Hannah.

“You’re coming back to the house.  We’re all going back there and I can drive you back to your car in the morning,” said his friend, Hannah’s sister, who, for the purposes of this story and because it’s her name, we’ll call Drea.

“But I was just going to call a cab and-”

“Please?” Hannah interrupted.

“You can drive?” Josh asked to Drea.

“Yeah, I barely drank anything,” she responded.

Josh didn’t need to consider it very long.  In their talking earlier in the night, he was told that Hannah was living with Drea.  He also knew he wouldn’t have to pay the cab fare two times, so that was a bonus.  He didn’t want the night to end.  And most importantly of all, he was being asked to go back with Hannah to her place.

So he got into Drea’s truck with Drea, one of her friends, and Hannah.  He was relieved to find that Drea was indeed okay to drive.  He fought the urge to spend the entirety of the short drive making out with Hannah, and opted instead to talk and joke with Drea, and her friend.  The logistics would’ve been difficult too, considering Hannah was up front next to Drea and Josh was in the back with her friend.

They arrived back at Drea’s house, where Hannah was staying.  They all went to the living room and talked for a while.  It was a good time and Josh was feeling very comfortable.  He liked talking with Drea.  He was glad that she still had the qualities he liked about her in high school.  He liked all her friends.  They reached out to him and immediately made him feel welcomed into their circle.  Josh knew his social anxiety could make him seem stand-offish at first, but they pushed right through that.  And as they sat and talked, Josh would continue to sneak glances and smiles at the beautiful Hannah sitting next to him on the couch.  He was happier than he had been in years.

Eventually, the night wound down.  Drea’s husband arrived home from the post-closing duties, her friend left to go home, and Drea and her husband went to their room.  Everyone was tired.  Everyone, except that is, Josh and Hannah.

They were alone.  Josh, trying to act the gentleman, went against his hormones and explained he would just crash there on the couch, & she could go off to her room if she was tired.

She replied with exactly what he wanted to hear.  “I’m not tired yet.  Are you?”

“No,” he smiled.

She sat next to him on the couch.  They would talk for a while, joke for a while, and passionately kiss for a while.  After about an hour of this, Hannah got up and said, “I’m just going to go slip into something more comfortable.”

Josh’s pulse quickened.  He knew exactly what that meant.  “Slip into something more comfortable?!?”  He had heard that line just before the gratuitous sex scene in about a hundred different movies.  He couldn’t believe how things were progressing, but was enjoying every second of it.

As he waited on the couch for her return, his mind filled with images of her walking out in some sexy lingerie, and him taking her in a passionate embrace.  He imagined things that would not be fit for print in this family-friendly blog-type-thing.

And then she came back into the room.  He prepared himself for the scene he was certain would unfold.  He looked up from the couch to see her returning to the room in this.

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Fluffy Christmas pants.  She was also wearing a teal tank-top.  Her hair was put up, and she had exchanged her contacts for a pair of glasses.

In his head, he could not stop laughing.  He didn’t want her to think it was because of how she looked now, so he kept his laughter inside his head.  It wasn’t about the way she looked either.  She actually looked beautiful.  In fluffy Christmas pants, glasses, and a tank-top, she looked absolutely beautiful.  No, he wasn’t laughing on the inside because of that.  He was laughing at his expectations.  He was laughing at the words she used, a known segue into moving the night into a sexual direction.  Known to him, but apparently not to her.

She honestly meant what she said.  She slipped into something more comfortable.  She was comfortable enough around him to come out in her comfortable clothes.  Josh knew his fantasy of what would happen would not occur that night.  And as they talked and joked and kissed until morning, he knew his original intention of casual fun was not going to occur either.  And he was really comfortable with that.

If you missed part 1 of How I Met The Hannah, you can read it here.

Part  2, is here.

Cantina For The Best Time

About a week had gone by since the night at The Underground, but Josh just couldn’t seem to get it out of his head.  So when his old friend (& now again current friend) called him up and invited him out again he jumped at the chance.  The Reno Cantina Los Tres Hombres was closing, her husband worked there as a bartender, and they were closing down the bar by coming close to giving drinks away.  A good time was promised to all.

Josh was excited.  He had just cashed his unemployment check that he was receiving since the company he worked for in Washington closed down due to the financial crisis.  Because he was getting it from Washington (through Nevada), the amount he was making was almost the maximum someone in Nevada could get on unemployment.  Because the cost of living in Nevada was so much lower than in Seattle, the unemployment check could go pretty far.  Because Josh was living with his dad for the time being, his expenses were near zero, meaning that check went even further.

So again, Josh borrowed his father’s Dodge Magnum and headed to Reno for what promised to be a good time.  It was another warm night, and though he wasn’t exactly sure what it was, there was a definite feel of excitement in the air.  The only thing that tempered his excitement was knowing he had been thinking about his friend’s odd sister, and the odd moment he had with that odd sister the last time he saw her.  He had to remind himself that she was off limits.

He arrived at the Cantina.  Knowing it was closing was somewhat a disappointment for him, because he had fond memories of playing shows there, back when he was in a band.  He was happy to see that a large amount of people seemed to have turned out for its last hurrah.  He parked in the lot, and walked through the warm, electric night air inside.

There was no doorman, no group of people waiting to get in.  Since the Cantina was also a restaurant, you weren’t carded until you sat at the bar to order a drink.  From the entrance Josh used, the bar is basically the first thing you see, so there was no need to look around for his friend, the group she was with, and particularly…the sister.

His eyes went to the sister immediately.  She looked good.  She was sitting on one side of the half-square bar, closest to the door from which he entered.  At first, he was disappointed to see people sitting on either side of her.  He quickly shook that feeling off, reminding himself that it would be wrong to make a move on his friend’s sister.  He thought it would be particularly wrong, since he had recently asked out his friend’s cousin.

“Your friend is going to think you’re using her to go through her friends and family members,” he thought to himself as he sat on the side of the bar diagonally across, yet close enough to talk to the beautiful sister.  “You are going to hell for this.”

He didn’t even try to hide that he was eyeing her.  He knew he shouldn’t be, but she looked so good.  The internal struggle consumed him when she looked his way and smiled.  A smile so beautiful, his ethical dilemma suddenly left his mind.  He looked away, then back.  She smiled again.

It was on.  Sister or not, it was on.  He was just about to say something to her when the cousin walked in and sat a couple seats down.  He was worried it would be akward, but she was with somebody.  So he said hi to her and introduced himself to him, and turned his attention back to the beautiful sister.

“Hannah!” he shouted across the bar.  “What are you drinking?”

“What?” she asked in reply.

“What can I get you to drink?”

She smiled, and answered that she liked tequila.  He was scared.  His family has a history with tequila and so, aside from the occasional Margarita at a Mexican restaurant, he pretty much stayed away from it.  He didn’t even really know tequila, except Patron seemed to be really popular, so he asked if she wanted that.

“No, I like Cazadores.”

“Casa what?” he thought to himself.  “Oh well, we’ll give it a shot,”he thought again before shouting to everybody, “Who’s gonna drink with us?”

And so he ordered Cazadores shots for everyone at the bar and toasted to the Cantina.  Her friend’s husband was behind the bar along with another woman.  In between sneaking glances and smiles at Hannah, (his friend’s beautiful sister, the “Hold me like a baby” girl he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about), he talked with her friend’s husband and the other bartender about the closing, and asked how many people were working that night.  He asked if he could buy them all a round and he did.  Then he asked Hannah if he could buy her another drink.  He repeated those steps a few times before engaging Hannah in small talk from across the bar.

At some point, he considered asking his friend if she would mind him trying to pick up her sister, but he never got the chance.  The woman he was sitting next to, (another friend of his friend’s), tapped him on the shoulder and showed him a napkin.  On the napkin was a message.  “Trade seats with Hannah.  She likes Josh.”  It was written by his friend.

She did trade seats when Hannah got up to go to the bathroom.  So Hannah came and sat next to Josh.  They talked about anything and everything.  They joked and laughed.  They had a few more drinks but did not get sloppy.  He didn’t need the napkin to know she was interested, but now he had a clear conscience.  They continued flirting, talking, and laughing.  The rest of the Cantina seemed to fade into the background as it was fading into history.

He paused the conversation for a moment, looking deep into her eyes.  She smiled, and Josh said, “Come here.”

And she leaned in, and he kissed her for the very first time.  He knew then, that he didn’t want to stop.  And as they left the Cantina for the very last time, they were still kissing.

And in his head, played the silly jingle he’ll never forget.  “Cantina for a great time.  Los Tres Hombres.  Cantina for the best time.  Los Tres Hombres.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final chapter of the epic How I Met The Hannah trilogy!

Hold Me Like A Baby

It was an ordinary late September evening in northern Nevada.  The air was still warm as the young man drove his father’s Dodge Magnum through the Y that separates Sparks from Reno.  As he drove along 4th street, he noticed the absence of other cars on the road.  As he continued, he questioned whether he really wanted to go.

He knew 4th street was home to run-down motels, tweakers, hookers, and homeless.  It had been for years.  Did he really want to go see an old high school friend’s husband’s band in some shit-hole on 4th street?

He became acutely aware of the cell phone in his right front pocket.  All he’d need to do is pull over, make up some excuse, call his old friend, and turn back.  It had been almost three months since he filed for divorce and years since his marriage was more than just a formality.  He had gone out a few times already since being back in town and had fun.  Why not tonight?

So he fought his social anxiety and slowed the car as he looked for some club called The Underground.  And in a block devoid of any life, he finally saw a group of people standing in the doorway of an industrial building.  There were a few cars right out front, & then he saw a lot of cars and groups of people on the adjacent side-street.  Then, he finally saw the sign that confirmed he was in the right place.  He turned down the next side street, and parked his father’s beloved car in the most well-lit, least sketchy spot he could find.

He was feeling nervous, yet excited.  His hair was recently cut, he was wearing his douche-bag shirt, (a shirt by a particular company he hated, that was popular with douche-bag, bro-types, but looked good on him and seemed to resonate with the ladies), and as he approached, he noticed he had already caught the eye of a few of the young women near the door.

He smiled at one of the young women standing near the door.  As he paid the doorman the $5 cover, he was asked to show his ID.  He pulled out his Washington driver’s license and the doorman remarked on the state of issuance.  The young woman took the opportunity to talk to him.

“Are you from Washington?”

“No,” the man smiled, “I’m from here, but moved to Seattle about 6 years ago.  Now I’m back.”

“I’m (name erased due to alcohol, and later events),” the woman smiled back.  “Are you staying for all the bands?”

“I don’t see why not.”  “My name’s Josh.”

“I’m waiting for a couple friends, Josh,” started the woman, “I’ll see you in there?”

“Sounds good,” Josh replied as he moved from the entry way into the large room that was The Underground.

“1 down,” he thought to himself.

He looked ahead to the stage.  It was a decent room, the stage looked large enough for most bands.  The floor was wide and unobstructed, except for the groups of people milling about.  The soundsystem looked to be rather impressive for a club of its size.  To the left was the bar, and at the edge of the bar was his old friend from high school.  When he saw her, she noticed him at the same time and called him over.

She was with a large group of people.  She introduced Josh to her husband, who seemed like a friendly person and started talking music with Josh right away.  He was already glad he decided to show up.  She then introduced him to her female friends.

They were all fairly attractive.  In fact, one of the females he took interest in was not just her friend, but her cousin.  He wondered if he should stay away from her for that reason, but decided cousins were fair-game.

Then she introduced him to her younger sister.  She told him they had only met about a year earlier.  They had the same “sperm-donor” (her words), lived in the same city most of their lives, and only found each other a year earlier.

She was beautiful.  They exchanged hellos, and they turned away from each other.  He definitely did not give her the same type of greeting he gave to the woman near the door.  Only one thought was going through his mind at that time.

“Sister.  Off limits.”

She didn’t really seem interested anyway.  And so, after a few drinks, he started chatting with his old friend’s cousin.  She was nice, and could hold an intelligent conversation.  And as he scanned the room to see about the other women he noticed, he became aware that most of them were Woo-girls.  (For reference, a Woo-girl is a woman, who, after a few drinks, becomes a very sloppy, loud, annoying creature who attracts potential mates by yelling “Woo!”)  Even though Josh was wearing his douche-bag shirt, he didn’t really consider himself to be a douche-bag (the ideal mate for the Woo-girl).  And so, he continued talking to his old friend’s cousin.  Despite the lack of a major spark, he asked for her number to see if maybe something would develop later.

As he was walking back to his old friend toward the end of the night to say goodbye, the beautiful sister approached, (or stumbled up to, in actuality) Josh.  Before he could react, she threw her arms around him and slurred, “Hold me like a baby!”

Josh didn’t know what to do.  He looked around the room for help, or a hidden camera, or something to give him a hint as to what the hell was happening.  His arms remained pinned to his sides.  After a moment, he laughed.

She let him go, looked up at him, and said, “I’m so sorry!”

Josh smiled, looked back at her and said, “It’s okay.  Happens all the time.”

He didn’t make any kind of move, and simply left the night at that.  She was too intoxicated, and she was still his friend’s sister.

A couple days later, Josh called the cousin to see if she’d like to go to a concert with him.  He left a voicemail, and fortunately, she never returned the call.

He went to the concert alone, feeling a little strange going by himself, but proud of himself for doing it anyway.

And all the while, a thought bounced around in his head of the great night at The Underground, and of the beautiful woman who grabbed him and said, “Hold me like a baby.”

To be continued…