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Volume 16, Issue 7 - February 14 - February 20, 2008


Looking for Mr. Darcy, Finding Mr. Goodbar

True tales of Valentine’s Day Massacres

by Diana Beechener

I’ll admit it. I’ve never had a date on Valentine’s Day. I’ve dined in December, sauntered out in September and seen movies in March. But I’ve discovered that T.S. Eliot was wrong. February is the cruelest month when it comes to my romantic life. The pattern bothered me after a friend noted it. What happened to my relationships before that fateful day? Was I not worth the price of a Hallmark card?

My friends — predicting my inevitable transformation to crazy cat-lady — formed a committee to find my true love. Valentine’s Day, they decided, would be the date night to break my curse. I refused, but after a terrifying dream about becoming one of those cat ladies, I relented. I’m really more of a dog person.

For my first experience with blind dating, I set my criteria. I wanted a man with the wit of a Jane Austen hero and the grit of a John Wayne character. There is a lot of wiggle room between rugged frontiersman and British fop. It gave my friends options.

Never give your friends options.

Four years in, I steel myself for the annual disaster with fond memories of past St. Valentine’s Day Massacres. Three years, three dates, three reasons to find new friends and collect kitties.

Bachelor number one — a film student — arrived to the restaurant a half-hour late, dressed in head-to-toe black, including a wool cap pulled low on his head. He grabbed a seat by the wall, but his eyes shifted frenetically about the room. I pondered his late arrival and nervous behavior; perhaps he was a part-time cat burglar and had to work late? I started the conversation quickly, in case the police arrived.

Before the drinks hit the table, we argued cinematic taste. Before the appetizers, he accused me of dumb girl taste in movies. Before the entree, I debated calling the police with an anonymous tip on a cat burglar.

Bachelor number two — a business graduate student — stared. That’s it. After a perfunctory hello and a friendly hug, I sat across the table from a frozen man. I wondered if my hug was too strong; perhaps I had squeezed some inexplicable paralysis into him. My reflection on a fork showed nothing unusual hanging off my face.

I attempted conversation, but after four or five one-word answers, I gave up and stared back. With nothing else to do, I set goals for myself: Could I make him blink? Could I make him laugh? Could I develop telekinesis and shove him across the restaurant? For the rest of dinner I sat, concentrating on my hypothetical powers, while my companion grazed.

Before I arrived home, he had tattled. “Did you really make faces at him all night?” my matchmaker asked via answering machine.

Bachelor number three — a self-proclaimed Urban Cowboy — had an affinity for John Wayne and Stetson hats. He didn’t appear to have a nefarious second career and seemed willing to speak to me. I felt my luck changing.

I had a nice set of birthing hips, he told me for an ice-breaker. Even as a joke it failed to rope me in. I stared at my lap, wondering if I resembled a cow or had wandered into an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. Plagued with visions of branding irons and lassos, I cut the evening short. As I watched him mosey off into the sunset, I made a vow about John Wayne types: Unless a man produces documented proof that he too can single-handedly save the Alamo, he has not earned the right to call me pilgrim.

Bachelor number four remains to be seen. One way or another, he will be the final contestant in this dating game. If it works out, then I shall have a lovely flowery reflection to write for a later date. If, however, St. Valentine continues to sneer in my general direction, I’ll finally take the hint. After all, I’ve got great friends who love me, even if they have horrible taste in men.

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