By Max Lorber
I would like to begin this piece by thanking the divine energy field, the astrology charts, the universal chi, and the almighty power that Jesus used to turn a fountain of water into a wine bar and moonwalk across a lake. Thank you, God, if you do exist and decide such things, for allowing me to be single during this past Valentine’s Day.
What a privilege. What a relief. I saw those suckers opening their wallets up for dying flowers and suspiciously low-quality chocolates, scrambling for a piece of jewelry and a card and a dinner reservation. I spent that night sipping tea and watching the snow, laughing to myself as I reflected on my past Valentine’s Day debacles.
There was that one — let’s refer to her as Girl A — who seemed to be a walking ball of flames ready to explode on anything that crossed her. Her biological makeup consisted of fire and ice and a few organs that kept functions consistent with a normal human form. This is not the kind of heat a normal person might be attracted to; this is the kind of heat that will leave you in the burn ward begging for morphine.
Valentine’s Day, 2012 — a somewhat traumatic experience I don’t think I will ever forget. I tried to make it a special day for Girl A. I can pretend to be romantic when the situation warrants such things. We went to a cocktail lounge in New York City. The evening was unfolding fairly well, no fights or blow-ups yet. That was until she ordered her fourth Jameson. The cocktail waitress brought our drinks over, and Girl A observed there was too much ice diluting the whiskey in her glass. I couldn’t hear what she was saying to the bartender after she marched over there, but from experience I knew to brace myself.
(At a beer garden a month earlier, a large man had accidentally bumped into her, and she’d had no problem throwing a full pint of beer into his chest. He complained a bit about his checkered flannel being an expensive shirt. She informed him his shirt had looked like a cheap curtain, and that now it looks like a wet dishrag.)
The bartender rolled his eyes in customary New York fashion as he took the drink back. He then slapped a glass of whiskey on the counter, with no ice whatsoever. She picked the drink up and splashed it into the man’s eyes. We were asked to leave. She informed the staff they were lucky she was in a good mood, or they would have gotten “the business.”
We stayed together another two years. I ended up getting that same “business” she was referencing. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming.
Then there was Girl B. She was a bit calmer than Girl A, but not by much.
Valentine’s Day, 2015 — flowers, a handmade card, and a candlelit dinner cooked by yours truly. Three courses, none of them burned. I was in the zone. But after only a few bites of the chicken, she went silent, her face beginning to contort slightly.
Not good. Did I screw up the recipe? I began going over the steps again. The marinade did seem a bit citrusy. What about the spices? Too much cumin? Her face began to turn red. Maybe too much cayenne? She shook her head and pointed at her throat.
“You know what, I tried, okay! I’m not Gordon Ramsey over here.” In response to my comment she began flailing her arms violently. And then it hit me. She wasn’t breathing.
I did the “are you okay” routine, getting up and standing over her. She was turning the color of an eggplant, with thick veins popping out of her neck and temple. Okay. Okay okay okay okay. She was, without a doubt, choking right in front of me.
I tried to remember those posters. It’s called the Heimlich maneuver. You have to lift the victim up, hold them from behind, and collect your fists over their sternum. Then you pull in with a quick motion. I went into action. The first pull didn’t work. She began to shake. I did it again. Now, contrary to popular belief, the food does not necessarily fly out of the victim’s mouth. Life is not a scene from “Mrs. Doubtfire.” The chicken simply dislodged. She swallowed and collapsed on her seat, heaving desperately between slugs of water.
She was unhappy with my act of heroism. Once she gathered her strength, she began to scream. According to her, my performance was not timely enough. I received a slap across the face, and finished my plate of chicken alone.
For me, spending Valentine’s Day alone this year was like dodging a bullet. Do you blame me? Because of the limited space on this page, I can’t even include the other episodes with Girl C, Girl D, and Girl E — the storm-outs, the hang-ups, the disappointments and tears.
There is some statistic showing that fights and break-ups seem to orbit around February. I know I’m not the only one that feels safe and secure alone in his pajama pants with his tea. You may interpret my tone as somewhat cynical. Well, well, well, what a literary genius you have become. Yeah, I’m cynical. And I know it’s not just me.