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With Valentine's Day approaching I've gotta say, I honestly don't know if I am what you would call a "romantic" person, because I don't really know what that is anymore. If pop culture serves me well, then romance is a thing for people interested in sharing baths in heart-shaped hot tubs while candles burn and they clink glasses of pink champagne.
Or maybe romance involves grabbing someone's face while you think very deep thoughts. The thought of any of this makes my skin crawl, and it also makes me wonder if anyone is actually into this stuff.
Truthfully, a lot of the romantic things I hear about make me really uncomfortable. For example, the thought of getting married and then having an emcee announce me at the reception makes me freak out. I mean, the thought of standing in front of people at a wedding, period, sounds super-scary. I guess it's because I hate when all eyes are on me -- the exception being if I am acting and on a stage, as a character.
But if it's just me, with a bunch of people focusing all their attention on ME? That makes my heart speed up, and not in a good way. In school when I used to receive nominations for academic awards, I would pray to lose.
I guess if I ever get married, it would make sense to elope. But I really like parties, catered spreads and fancy dresses, so this is a tough call. Can you see how simple hypothetical situations make my head spin? Eek.
Basically, a lot of romantic gestures freak me out. Or maybe I should be specific here -- public romantic gestures are what really, truly freak me out. Getting proposed to on a Jumbotron? That sounds so very unenjoyable, somewhere on the scale between getting a papercut and burning your tongue on pizza. But to my sister, a huge baseball fan and enjoyer of general romantic "stuff," that's the dream. (How are we related?!)
Here's what I know I like: I like getting flowers, whether they are from a friend, a significant other, or a family member. I like good manners, like having a door held open for me. I like "Love, Actually" and "When Harry Met Sally" (who doesn't?), and I like torturing myself with the love lost in "Atonement" (particularly when I'm PMS-ing). I like "classic" examples of love, like snapshots of wartime lovers, tales of couples who have spent decades together, or my grandfather's courting WWII letters to my grandmother. I thoroughly enjoy ridiculous ballads, or atypical love songs. I like reading semi-lovey poems (here's a favourite) but if you wrote one for me I would probably get really embarrassed.
I also like hearing other peoples' romantic tales if they're sweet, funny, or unique, like these ones from my fellow xoJane staffers:
Marianne: "Ed calls me his lobster, because Phoebe on 'Friends' said that lobsters mate for life. Like, objectively that is stupid and I don't even like 'Friends.' But it totally makes me feel mushy and gross and awesome."
Natalie: "Chris gave me a Valentine's card the first year that said: 'I think I'm finally starting to like you! Love, ? Boy'.'Which, although unromantic, made me laugh A LOT."
Claire: "Sean sent me a cowbell the first Valentine's Day I knew him, with a card that said 'I thought your Valentine's Day could use more cowbell.' I get a cowbell every year. I have eight cowbells."
Kate: "Weirdly, my friends have always been way more romantic than my partners. One time for my 21st birthday my best high school friend, with whom I was living at the time, brought me flowers and breakfast in bed (and an aspirin because I was hungover). And my platonic lifemate from college and I always used to get dressed up and go on dates, send each other random cards with photos of baby animals in them, stuff like that. For some reason I find this much cuter / more acceptable than if a date did them."
Louise: "I'm not into big mushy gestures, but when it comes to friends I'm a basket case. When I was BROKE, totally BROKE, my best friend sent me a check and said, 'I"ll always take care of you. I love you.' I cried all the tears."
Alison: "I am not big on showy romantic gestures. Like I don't care if I ever get married. But when my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I had a three-week hiatus from my show, my dude suggested we drive to Texas with our dogs to visit her. The memories I have from that trip are worth more than money can buy, as she died two months later. We had so many perfect days with her on that trip. To me, that's real romance."
Rebecca: "My sophomore year of high school -- my closest male friend (white) and I (friends since 6th grade) decided to go to the soph prom together, just as friends. It came to everyone's attention before mine that his father, a teacher at the school, had told him not to take me because I'm black. We went anyway without ever directly discussing it. All these years later, via Facebook (naturally), I thanked him for standing his ground, to which he responded: 'You were my friend.' Heart melted. "
Well, now I'm teary-eyed. So tell me, am I a romantic person, or just a regular human? And which category do you fall into?