When you find someone to love, you also find someone to hate, Sophie White explores how her Valentine’s Days started out crap and somehow got crapper
Are we all agreed that February is trudging past at a snail’s pace? Once the Christmas mania abates I fall into the trap of thinking that we’ve broken the back of winter and that spring is just around the corner. This, sadly, is incorrect.
The only thing I can think of to look forward to in this non-event of a month is Valentine’s Day, which shows just how depressed I really am. Usually Valentine’s Day is completely ignored in our house. This is probably the case for most couples living in the REAL WORLD — ya know the one where there’re bills to be paid and petty resentments festering over whose turn it is to get up with the baby at night. Naturally along with romance, I will also be shunning social media on the day in an attempt to avoid the non-REAL WORLD dwellers aka the people who still like their other halves. A social media blackout is the only way to dodge the deluge of posts of sparkly engagement rings, chilled bottles of Champagne and hashtags proclaiming ‘feelingloved’. The ‘We’re so happy’ virtual roadshow. Perhaps I’m being unduly scathing towards those in the first flush of love, but I never really went in for it even in the early days.
The Man has also never ONCE complied with the norms of romantic behaviour. Even when he proposed, he just asked where the Fairy Liquid was and almost as an afterthought: “Will you marry me?”
Valentine’s Day plans started grim (3-in-1s and six cans of Dutch Gold when we were 22) and got grimmer (4-in-1s and a bottle of homemade petrol wine aged 23). One year I threw a huge strop at Christmas (he had gifted me a piece of jewelry I already owned, claiming that getting it cleaned was my present – it’s a long story, one which definitely proves the man has a death wish) and issued a snarling threat regarding the upcoming Valentine’s Day. That year we broke with the tradition of boycotting VD and wound up entertaining a full restaurant with a screaming match that broke out when The Man said we wouldn’t need to see the dessert menu (I always need to see the dessert menu). At the height of the fight I screamed: “I wore f*cking wooden shoes for this.” I had opted for a sort of 70s clog vibe, not comfortable and possibly the root of my terrible mood that night.
In sitting down to write this piece I compiled a sort of romantic gesture Best Of for Himself, which on further examination seems merely to consist of a series of acts of tolerance and submission. Examples include: Submits to the occasional wearing of matching novelty outfits (rabbit costumes, PJs with feet); submits to my broadcasting details of our sex life (have you heard my new podcast?!); tolerates repeated viewings of Circle of Friends, and so on.
In listing The Man’s shortcomings in the romantic gesture stakes, I suddenly and quite unexpectedly started to find myself having uncharacteristically warm thoughts towards him. This, admittedly, is probably because I have not seen him for about two days – he’s here somewhere but between jobs, kids and watching sports, our paths haven’t crossed. Clearly, I am looking back on our relationship with rose-tinted glasses. That or the glasses of Rosé I’m drinking – possibly the latter.
Perhaps mere tolerance of eachother is the happy ever after they never go into in the fairy tales and the movies? The emotions that have largely governed our union have been apathy and rage. The apathy might be worrying but I think the rage balances things. At least, I reason, the rage means The Man can still inspire passion me, negative or otherwise.
I am pretty indifferent to most people. Sure, I get annoyed by people who beep me if I take more than a nanosecond to cross the road while dragging my screaming kids along with me, and I have unlimited reserves of contempt for people who pretend they have dietary requirements. But it is only The Man who can illicit such disproportionate vitriol for an unsteeped Weetabix bowl or some other minor infraction.
No one can wind us up better than our loved ones. When one of my friends doesn’t answer her phone, do I fly into a homicidal rage? Of course not, but when he doesn’t answer, I have been known to leave screaming messages on his phone, wondering why a person even bothers to have a phone if they don’t ANSWER IT?!?!?!?!?!?
This is how I know that I love The Man so much — there is no one else in the world for whom I can summon up such potent levels of hatred.