February 14, 2021

A Pandemic Valentine

Ever since the first shutdown was looming back in March 2020, I've been desperate to "get back in the game."

Not necessarily the dating game, or the relationship game, but just "the game"—to be among the other living, breathing human beings who desire and are desired. 

I'd been out of the game for over two years at that point—by choice. But the thought of that choice being taken away from me made me panic. 

Last year during Valentine's Week, I'd had a "palentines" celebration at Breakup Bar with a married female friend and a gay guy friend, which was about as platonic as it could get. I got my hair done. I fulfilled a childhood dream by sitting in the same room as actor Henry Winkler (a.k.a. "Fonzie" from Happy Days). I sipped cocktails with a friend at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel bar. 

On Valentine's Eve 2020, I attended ArtWalk in Downtown Los Angeles and a magic show in East Hollywood. I paired my new hairdo with a new dress. I got compliments on it.

On Valentine's night, I took myself out to a nice dinner at the bar at Spartina on Melrose and then let the doorman buy me drinks at Melrose Umbrella Company. I worked an event the following night. 

It didn't occur to me then that the following year, there would be no bar to sit at. There would be no haircut for over a year. Instead, there would be home dye-jobs and makeshift pedicures—none of the little superficial confidence boosts that I rely on when I'm feeling down and lonely. 

So, even if I were to find someone to desire during this pandemic, I'd be such a mess that I wouldn't want to come out from underneath my burlap sack. 

Considering how many friends I haven't been able to see at all over the last 11 months, I'd be fooling myself to think that I could meet anyone under the current conditions. 

And maybe I don't really want to bother. It already takes so much negotiating just to socialize with one or two people outside of my household (outside, with masks, and at a distance). 

But I'm offended that nobody wants to bother with me. 

Time is ticking away. I was at my most beautiful 10 years ago. I don't see my looks improving anytime soon. And even back then, I was never pretty enough or hot enough for the tastes of the modern American man anyway. 

Or I was—but they wanted something else. And whatever that other thing was, I don't see myself acquiring it as time wears on.

So the older I get, I can only imagine that I'm becoming less desirable to those who won't or just don't go beyond scratching the surface. 

This isn't a matter of low self-esteem. I've always been good enough for me. 

Even when my parents didn't think I was funny, I knew I was hilarious. My mother accused me of being "pseudo-intellectual," but there was nothing "pseudo" about it. I was just smarter than her. And she didn't appreciate that. 

I was such a good kid, but they just didn't get me. 

And now, I'm such a good woman, but nobody seems to want to partake. 

I'm not talking about friends. I have plenty of friends who I love and who love me. 

But friendships can't fulfill everything. 

I would've liked to distract myself from all this Valentine's Day madness—on the internet and the radio and at every storefront I drove past—by going out to the desert or embarking on some other adventure. But the pandemic just made that too big of a challenge this year. 

So tonight, with just an hour left of Valentine's Day, I'm alone with my thoughts. And a pizza. 

And that's just fine—for now. 

But I don't think I can keep this up forever. 

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