Everyone has their least favorite holiday. I used to think it was Thanksgiving, because being born on Thanksgiving means that I was never able to plan a birthday party and to be quite honest, having spent far too many birthdays alone, however, in my dotage, I understand that is not about the holiday, but really my dislike of gatherings. Halloween is a holiday, which certainly had its ups and downs over the years as well, but I can think of quite a few good Halloweens in my life.
However, I cannot think of one solitary good Valentine's Day. Heck, most of them are not even memorable, just an empty day in my life. In fact, I believe I was paired off for eight Valentine's Days, the best and most memorable of which involves me coloring a guinea pig with colored pencils as part of my recuperation. However, I can think of one exceptionally poor Valentine's Day, a masochist's tale from my year in the courthouse. I think being rejected by a girl with uneven legs was quite the emotional blow for me, but with a history of having an eye for beauty in things and people which are broken, it was not quite as terrible as it might have been. Also by 26, any semblance of confidence or ability to deal with women productively was lost in the scorched earth of my love life, self-inflicted to the last. So, without further ado, I present my favorite Valentine's Day story as a present tense encounter from 2005 entitled Mountain Climber:
We've all watched The Price is Right. I mean, it's a staple of American
life. As a child, I was horribly frightened by the game Mountain
Climber. It's not the fact that man in the shorts with a pick ax
predictably fell to his death every time they reached the third item,
but rather it was the freaky yodeling that accompanied the game. As I
got older, I was able to withstand Mountain Climber and laugh whenever
someone guess the price of a $29 blender was $54, leaving the
mountaineer precariously perched on the edge of the mountain, just
awaiting the bid on the juicer to send him plummeting to his ultimate
demise and the contestant to the front of the line when it came time to
spin the wheel.
Today was much like one of those harrowing
games of Mountain Climber, only in my mind. The day started off well
enough. Then I was a few minutes late getting started on my day. The
mountain climber slowly rose, maybe two or three dollars. Nothing major
and still leaving the day in the prize winning area. Then, I couldn't
find my watch, which was expected as I couldn't find it yesterday
either, though now it is safely sheleved after finding it under the foot
of my bed. Another dollar, nothing serious. Then, I showered, shaved,
dressed to the point of the tie. Normally, I can tie a tie in two
shots or less. Using a mirror is out of the question as for some
strange reason my mind wants to use the hands in the mirror rather than
the hands attached to my arms, leading to some awkward knotting at best.
This morning, I may as well have been using your arms, dear reader, as
it took no less than ten tries and two ties to actually get one tied
properly. Slowly, the yodeling began to get louder.
boring drive to work with little in terms of good radio, I arrived at
the underground parking area about ten minutes late. Not really a
problem, since my boss cares more about what gets done, which is
everything plus, then the exact moment I show up. So, I'm putting on my
suit jacket and walking towards the elevator with a bottle of water, a
can of soda and an umbrella in my hand. Then, somehow the can leapt
from my hand, as if urged by a suicidal impulse and hit the ground
below. Realizing that concrete is never smooth and learning from the
time this happened in the outdoor parking lot, I sprung backwards, just
out of harm's way as the can explode with full fury, leaving a foamy,
brown puddle on the ground. I picked up the can, threw it out and felt
good about not actually wearing a soda for most of the day. Only one or
two more dollars up the mountain went our intrepid explorer.
up the street to work, something dawned on me. The fact I probably
should have shown up at 8 AM, instead of 8:30 this morning, since my
judge was issuing a decision from the bench. Up the mountain we go.
get to work and decide that I am going to hide at my desk for as much
of the day as possible, as I would be less likely to get bit by a dog,
run down by a criminal or have a dirigible crash upon my head there,
then out in the halls of the courthouse. Staying at my desk was
actually quite safe and productive. I managed to say only one stupid
thing, which is about par for the course in any conversation. I didn't
light myself on fire, douse myself in acid, nor accidently unleash a
nuclear holocaust on the world. The yodeling had all but stopped and
the little mountaineer in his shorts, with his pick ax held high felt
very safe, almost secure and content.
At about 12:35, I headed
out to lunch. Lunch is always safe. I would be alone, far removed from
the courthouse and anyone I could run into. Nothing could go wrong,
other than my lunch not being very good, which would have only pushed
the mountaineer towards the edge, rather than over it.
would not have much of a story were the tale to end here, as there is
no point in discussing Mountain Climber if the yodeling fool is not
pushed to a traumatic and early demise by the cruel world around him.
Out the front door I go into the arms of fortune and disaster.
was one of the law clerks that I know and work with. There is nothing
scary about that in abstract. Of course, I've left out details like how
at one point in time, I was very interested in, as something about her
shy, awkward beauty spoke to me. Mostly, in the form of horrific plans
that I will not recount here, due to their extreme length and utter
failure. But we remain friendly enough, as I never really exposed my
hand to her.
So, she is standing in the middle of the long path
out of the courthouse and she sees me and stops. I walk up to her,
umbrella extended as we are in a driving, wet snow. I offer her my
umbrella like a gentleman, because that's just who I am. She refuses
and we start to walk and talk. Our conversations are almost never
meaningful or interesting, almost always staying in the safe zone of
work, rather than the meaningful realms of anything important or
personal, save one conversation about her love of sitcoms on HBO. So,
we are walking along and I'm thinking about how pretty I think she is,
despite her limp. I don't think everyone realizes that one of her legs
is shorter than the other, but I'm dead certain of it. So, she
mentioned she was meeting another of the law clerks for lunch. About
this time, I put the umbrella away, as I was about to put someone's eye
out with it, due to the high winds. Little in life is less emasculating
than being blown around like Mary Poppins. If you don't believe me,
wait for a day of high wind and take a flimsy umbrella for a stroll.
a block, she asks, where was I going. In truth, I had planned to go to
the book store, then swing back to one of the local eateries. Of
course, faced with a situation between the rational walking away before I
drag myself into regret or dragging myself into regret, I always choose
the dragging, so I say the same place she is going, which in fact was
partially true, since I had every intention of coming back there. So,
we cross the street to the restaurant, where I've locked myself into the
conversation and lunch.
We casually converse for a few
minutes, with only one awkward reference to stalking after I pointed out
one of the judges in the restaurant from behind. She seemed to think
it was funny, but that was probably due more to the animation of myself,
then the content of my words. I was thinking, how is it that I just
couldn't figure out how to make things work with the girl with the
pretty face, the cute speech impediment and the limp who finds me
amusing. You would think I was playing to my strengths here, yet that
ended up not being the case.
So, her friend came along and we
went inside, just as the last table was taken. Perhaps I was going to
escape with some small shred of dignity and leave the mountain climber
stranded at $25 up the mountain. Of course, it was then recommended we
dine in the small jury room upstairs, which apparently also doubles as a
place for breastfeeding. So, I guess it has a variety of functions.
order, I order. We stand around and converse, the two of them doing
more of the talking as they are better friends. So, as you may realize,
today is Valentine's Day, my second, least favorite holiday after St.
Patrick's Day. So, the friend starts talking about what her boyfriend
was doing for her for Valentine's Day. And then she asks the girl I
like(d) what Brian was doing for her for Valentine's Day. Now, of
course, in a perfect world that Brian was me and the great light of God
would be shining on my wretched self. However, we all know that I don't
believe in god or good fortune.
That Brian is one of the other
two guys of the same job title. He of the square jaw and regular guy
ways who I felt was real competition since early September and was
certain of it by a long and arduous Family Law Christmas party I went
to, as I neither drank at a public gather nor enjoyed watching her look
at him and gentlely touch his sleeve in the way women do when they are
interested in the short man. I was crestfallen after that day, but
being isolated due to the different nature of my job, I was unaware he
made his move and things worked out.
I would repeat what
happened in real life here, but I was lost solely in the dark recesses
of my mind as the poor Mountain Climber watched in great horror as I
screamed the two slice toaster cost $186 when it really cost $20. The
Mountain Climber was just shot off the mountain over the Plinko machine
and to a certainly painful demise as he lay broken at the base of the
wheel. Of course, my next horror was that I was to be drawn into the
conversation, be asked what are you doing for your girlfriend for
Valentine's Day and be forced to withhold the hilarious, but highly
inappropriate comment of switching hands.
Needless to say,
lunch was a long, drawn out meal in a small room with a bricked up fire
place that where the conversation mostly turned on how much they
disliked certain people, while I realized how really good my job and
most of the people I worked with were in comparison. Of course, this
was interspliced with the image of the poor mountain climber being
vaulted and my wondering where did I go wrong in estimating this one
I then returned to my desk after taking some work from
her, walked to my desk and sulked for a decent while at my desk,
finished up everything I needed to do and went home on time in the
driving rain. Now, I sit here having written this utterly ridiculous
story about my day, which you were drawn into and have completely read
and had a good laugh at my expense. And I deserve it.