Valentine’s Day is coming. This used to fill me with small amounts of dread. When I didn’t have anyone to spend the evening with, I would be filled first with self-loathing and then with Guinness and vodka. Then sometimes I would have a Valentine’s date and the stress of what to do for the evening would leave me gibbering. The Day of Love, my arse.
I’ve often wondered how a Roman priest became the patron saint of over-commercialised expressions of hopeless amorousness and very expensive flowers. He’s also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, plague, travellers and greetings, not just greetings cards and their makers. I suppose that epilepsy and plague need a patron saint. Lovers and engaged couples certainly do.
Useless daters don’t have a patron saint as far as I know. I could have done with a bit of supernatural intervention down the years. It’s not just the times I’ve wanted to swallow my own tongue to stop myself saying stupid stuff. Is there really a need to tell your date you’re off to the loo, for example? No, I can’t think of a reason to do that.
One time I thought we were both enjoying ourselves. We’d ordered food and a second bottle of wine. I came back from a trip to the loo to see her disappearing out the front door of the restaurant with the second bottle of wine. She shouted, “That’s my bus!” and disappeared onto the mean streets of Richmond leaving me with two pizzas and the bill. Who does that?
Yawns are a strange reflex. I yawn when I’m nervous. You’re probably going to yawn when you read this sentence for a start. I yawn when I’m nervous too. It’s physiological, irresistible and certain to worry a date who thinks she’s boring. “No, you’re not boring me at all. You’re making me really nervous.” Another one for the tongue-swallower.
The next stage of nervousness on from yawning is barfing, of course. The liquid yawn. Of course, it is. It should be realising that you’re not nervous at all and that the person in front of you is enjoying your company but no, it’s not. I have several times had to disappear to the loo to regurgitate the meal I’ve just eaten. On one really special evening I had to pay that visit twice in five minutes. Not easy to explain that one away. Do you lie and say something along the lines of “Sorry, bothersome prostate?” Your date would no doubt be really flattered were she to know that she was having such a strong effect on you. This particular effect? Not so much.
The thing about all of these disasters is that I never felt nervous at the start of the evening. It’s only when things were starting to go well that the yawning, the shaking – I haven’t told you about shaking so badly I couldn’t put my glass to my lips without risking rattling my front teeth with it – or the puking start. My body always let me down.
I need to close with a running analogy. That one’s really easy though. My body always lets me down.