Writing left handed

The Final Installment: My Worst Valentine’s EVER

I’ve never been very good at science or math or any of the academic disciplines that require you to predict how something’s going to turn out.  Nonetheless, I did some careful calculations during my junior year of college and came to the following conclusion: Valentine’s Day 2006 was going to be the best E-V-E-R!

I based this hypothesis not upon whimsical desires or my latest horoscope but upon solid evidence.  What was this solid evidence, you ask?  Well, for starters, I was studying abroad at the time and I have always preferred affairs of the international variety.  My exact location “abroad” was rather fortuitous as well: I was a visiting student at Oxford University.

For the first time in my life, I found myself absolutely surrounded by men.  My tutors (aka professors) were nearly all male, I had six male flat mates and somehow, rather inexplicably, I’d landed myself not one but two dates in the weeks preceding Valentine’s Day.  Granted, they were with fellow Americans abroad (can we say borrrring?) but for the sake of not being single on February 14th, I didn’t care.

Finally, just to cover my bases, I signed up for a charity speed dating event with a few of my flat mates.  (It would seem that I’ve harbored latent serial dater tendencies for some time now.)

I met one of the Americans for dinner the night before, and arranged a “back up” date with one of the boys from my flat just in case, but then the unthinkable happened: the morning of February 14th dawned and, through a series of unfortunate and inexplicable events (which I myself barely understood), I found myself without a date.

To make matters worse, Oxford colleges employ a rather conspicuous system of mail delivery in the form of “pigeon holes.”  Unlike their American counterparts, these mailboxes don’t lock.  They don’t even have doors.  This means that you can see everyone’s mail and on February 14th, you can see all the long stem roses that the other girls have received.

I was reading Virginia Woolf (or something equally suicide-inducing) at the time and between the roses-I-did-not-receive, the failure of my “back up” plan and the prospect of spending Valentine’s Day in the physical therapist’s office thanks to my recent back injury, it was all I could do not to throw myself into the Isis on the way back to my flat.

Fortunately, I’d met my Irish friend Siobhan by then and she was (and has continued to be) very gracious in including me, as the hapless international student, in her rather happenin’ social life.  She invited me to a “girls only” dinner at a restaurant in town and I readily agreed.

I’ve neglected to point out that I lived at the bottom of a hill, and that the primary method of transportation in Oxford (and Cambridge) is the bicycle.  Furthermore, I’ve failed to mention that I was rather enamored of a pair of metallic gold lace up stilettos at the time, and that the dinner in question took place before I completed my year abroad, and, more importantly, before I learned that stilettos are not the most appropriate choice of footwear for cycling.

Of course, these were not just any stilettos: these were lace up stilettos.  Each shoe boasted at least four feet of metallic gold cord and even though I had years of lacing pointe shoes under my belt, I was no match for the complicated maneuvering these babies required.

(Do you see where I’m going with this?)

I was halfway up the hill in front of Christ Church when my foot slipped and my shoe promptly wrapped itself around my bike’s pedal.  My stockings, evidently wanting in on the action, adhered themselves to the bike’s gear and my skirt, not wanting to be left out, contrived to affix itself to the chain.

Had I been a Boyscout trying to tie knots, I would have definitely earned myself a merit badge for the impenetrable tangle I’d inadvertently created, but not being a Boyscout, and not wanting to tie knots, I simply burst into tears.

Mind you, I was still in the middle of traffic, so I hobbled on one foot over to the pedestrian street at the top of the hill, dragging my bike alongside me, and began the slow process of liberating my Valentine’s ensemble.

It wasn’t until several minutes later that I noticed a boy from my college standing on the corner, and of course he had to be one of the cute ones.

I like to think that nowadays, I would have used the whole damsel-in-distress thing to my advantage—that I would have laughed it off, called out to my fellow student for assistance and scored myself a last-minute VDay date in the process—but I was considerably less cool back then.

Instead, I went to dinner (where I proceeded to dazzle everyone with my complete lack of social skills), went home, and spent the rest of the night with my half-finished essay on Virginia Woolf, a jar of peanut butter and a spoon.

12 Responses to “The Final Installment: My Worst Valentine’s EVER”

  1. siobhan

    happenin’ social life eh!? i remember that meal well – you should have come to the bridge afterwards, there was quite a bit of kissing there, I seem to remember.

    shameful to only say this now but I do read this every day you post, and I love it! and am thrilled to be featured 🙂

    I feel a long email, and a postage care package coming on


    • Kat Richter

      Ahh, The Bridge… and yes, m’dear, you’re very happenin’ 🙂 Miss you! And can’t wait for an update on life in Birmingham! xx

  2. Carl

    As someone who has been single for all but two weeks of my 22 years of existing, I have had a lot of time to ponder relationships, and dating, and observe my peers in their trial and tribulations. Throughout high school Valentine’s day would make me sad or angry, generally because I felt lonely and was saddened because I had unreciprocated feelings of attraction toward someone. This feeling continued through my first year of college. Over the last few years though I have become more alright with being single, and although I am alone quite a bit, I am lonely much less than before. During the past couple of years I have been learning more about my emotions, and the different types of attractions that I have towards people. In my observations of others, and in talking with them and hearing about their experiences with dating and relationships, I have come to some opinions and conclusions of my own, that are sometimes drastically different from those of my similar aged peers. The Book “The Unhooked Generation” By Jillian Strauss is quite fascinating, and presents a unique insight into the dating lives of people in their 20’s. I have been reading your blog for the past month, soaking it in and comparing it to my own observations. During this time I have some thoughts that I feel I must share with you.

    1. The movie Hitch is a personal favorite of mine. Hitch is a so-called “Date doctor” who helps men navigate the complex and scary process of getting “the girl of their dreams.” He has several basic principles that he teaches to these men along the way. As the movie progresses, he comes to the realization that his “rules” are not really effective in helping these men in their dating, and so he ditches them. People, especially college-educated people, tend to be very logic-minded. We like things to make sense. We like to be able to predict what is going to happen next. Love is not compatible with that style of thinking. Emotions are incredibly irrational, triggered by a variety of biological and societal factors that are currently very difficult to determine. I can no more control who I am attracted to than I can control my heartbeat. Being attracted to someone can be scary for that reason. I feel such strong emotions, and I can not understand why. The more that I try to figure it out, the less it generally makes sense. I currently have learned that it is counter-productive to try and understand why I am feeling the way that I do toward someone. Instead I take the leap of faith and accept that I do feel that way, and I go from there.

    2. I see so many people of our generation struggling mightily with dating and relationships, trying to find that one “true love” or “soulmate” that they can spend the rest of their lives with. People have been searching for that kind of life-long relationship for hundreds of years. One important difference between dating in the past and dating today is that in past there were fairly structured rules defined by society of how courting would take place. Granted, these rules were somewhat sexist, a product of the patriarchal society of the time, but they were rules none the less. These rules appear, for example, in Jane Austen’s lovely book “Pride and Prejudice.”
    As flawed as those rules might have been, they had an important advantage, which is that they gave guidance and a method for young people who were new to dating to express how they felt toward someone. The structure does not exist today, making it harder for people like myself to figure out the best way to express my feelings to the object of my affection.

    3. There are a lifetime’s worth of people to meet in this world. With every person that we meet, there is always the possibility, no matter how remote, that each person we meet might be “the one”, as it were. When we make a choice to enter into a relationship with someone, or to marry someone, we are also giving up the opportunity to meet another potential “soulmate.” I believe that there are multiple people out there that I could marry and spend the rest of my life with, and be very happy. When I choose to marry one of them, I am also making a choice to not search anymore, and take advantage of what I already have. I get a sense from reading your blog that you have some pretty defined “Rules” for dating, courting, and relationships. These rules are not necessarily bad, but they might be limiting in your search for love.

    4. Despite what anyone might think, I think that you are beautiful, and a beautiful person. I can only imagine the sexiness of the outfit that you were wearing on your Worst Valentine’s day ever. I believe that “true love” exists for everyone, and I believe that you will find it someday. Who knows, it might be very close at hand.
    Someday, a man will see his dreams in you.
    Until then, be content with yourself.

    • Kat Richter

      Well now Carl, you did warm me that you had quite a few thoughts to share but I had no idea they’d be this well formulated 🙂 Thank you, and you’re right about “Hitch” (It’s a great film and us educated, book learnin’ folks do tend to over think things…) I was especially touched (and flattered) by Item #4 on your list, and wish you the very best in your search as well.

      • Carl

        Warm you? I thought that I warned you, but if warnings make you warm, then I am glad that you found warmth. 😛 It pleases me that my positive comments were received in the desired way. Many of those thoughts were forming for a long time, and went through refinement and clarification many times. I have also become more talented over the past year or so in effectively communicating through written communication, which makes the already difficult task of communication even more difficult. Another awesome movie dealing with issues of dating and relationships is “The Ugly Truth.” At the end, When Katherine Hiegel’s Character asked Gerrard Butler’s Character why he loves her, he replies: “Beats the shit out of me.” It is so very true. I can not tell you why I think that you are beautiful, I can only identify that I think you are. I leave you with a few quotes that I find meaningful.
        “For every girl who is tired of acting weak when she is strong, there is a boy tired of acting stong when he feels vulnerable. For every boy who is burdened with the constant expectation of knowing everything, there is a girl tired of people not trusting her intelligence. For every girl of is tired of being over-sensitive, there is a boy who fears to be gentle, to weep. For every boy for whom competition is the only way to prove is masculinity, there is a girl who is called unfeminine when she competes. For every girl who throws out her e-z bake oven, there is a boy who wishes to find one. For every boy struggling to not let advertising dictate his desires, there is a girl facing the ad industries attack on her self-esteem. For every girl who takes a step toward their liberation, there is a boy who finds the way to freedom a little easier. “”
        “Love is giving someone the power to break your heart, and trusting them not to. ”
        This next one is from the musical Wicked. Elphaba and Fiyero are having an intimate moment and Elphaba says the following to Fiyero: “You do not have to tell me that I am beautiful; You do not have to lie to me. ”
        Fiyero replies: “It’s not lying, it’s just looking at things a different way. ”
        Lastly, I leave you with a quote from the movie Hitch, one of my personal favorite quotes.
        “Life is not about the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.” -Hitch

  3. Dennis Hong

    Okay, I don’t mean to sound harsh, but… who the heck cares if you don’t have a date on Valentine’s Day? It’s a freaking Hallmark scam.

    One Valentine’s Day, I had recently broken up with my girlfriend of three years. So, I decided to throw a party for single people. It was such an awesome party, a bunch of couples even showed up and had a great time.

    Best. Valentine’s. Ever.

    • Kat Richter

      Yes, I neglected to mention that a few days prior to my Worst VDay Ever, I too threw a singles party, complete with a fondue set I’d brought all the way from the US. Despite being cramped in my tiny bedroom and huddled around my laptop to watch movies, we had a great time. In fact, the only girl who didn’t enjoy herself was the one who kept having to excuse herself to call her boyfriend back in the US…

  4. theladyofvermont

    But Virginia Woolf makes everything better, reading her works just makes me want to run around in the heath and around the Hebribes. I actually plan on spending Valentine’s Day reading her poem, Orlando. (Alone, needless to say.)

    • Kat Richter

      ARGHHH! Orlando… don’t even get me started on Orlando. What was VW smokin’? I’m a big fan of “A Room…” and “To the Lighthouse” but I still don’t get Orlando. Perhaps you can shed some light? 🙂


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