I’m a happily married woman now, but I’ve been single for far too long to suddenly change my feelings about Valentine’s Day. I actually didn’t see just how silly the whole thing is until after Josh and I started dating, but there’s a lesser-known reason I don’t care for Valentine’s Day. Now it’s funny, but at the time, it was devastating.
We started dating four years ago around Thanksgiving, celebrated our first Christmas, had my first New Year’s kiss (!), leaving Valentine’s Day as the last Hallmark holiday we had yet to experience as a couple. Josh isn’t a fan of Valentine’s Day either, but we decided to go out for dinner and treat it like a normal date night (with slightly dressier attire than usual).
I was looking forward to it until my skin started getting super dry (a typical occurrence for me in winter). No amount of Eucerin seemed to make it better. The dryness soon turned into a rash, which then turned scaly, and itched like crazy. When it wasn’t itching, it burned worse than infected chicken pox and poison ivy (and I’ve had both). I had no idea what it was, but it looked pretty ghastly, and I didn’t want to leave my house until it got better. My boss at the restaurant where I worked said “You don’t sound sick” when I called to let her know I wasn’t coming in, but when I showed up, her eyes bulged and she told me, “Yeah, you should probably stay home until whatever that is goes away.” At that point, I finally called a doctor.
You know your condition is awful when even the dermatologist, whom you’d assume has seen it all, gasps when you walk into her office. The biopsy results showed a highly contagious infection that had to be medicated right away, and would have turned serious if I’d waited any longer to come in. That alone was bad enough, but when the doctor said I’d have to be quarantined until it went away, meaning I’d have to cancel my Valentine’s date, that was when I burst into tears. My mom explained, “It’s her first Valentine’s date with her first serious boyfriend, that’s why she’s upset.” I was twenty-three. I felt so pathetic.
But that didn’t compare to the humiliation of having to call Josh and explain that not only did I have to cancel our plans, he also had to wash and disinfect anything my face might have touched within the last week: couch pillows, shirts, bathroom towels from when I stayed over…everything.
If he ended up getting what I had (which I would never wish on anyone, no matter how much I despised them) I wouldn’t have been shocked at all if that was it for us. He was studying to be a physician’s assistant, so he had seen his share of gross, but not this gross.
Against all common sense (I was contagious, after all), he showed up at my house with two canvasses and a set of paints. I wore a scarf around my face and he didn’t dare hug or kiss me, but we painted together at my kitchen table, which in a way was better than a fancy dinner because it was more personal, even though I felt miserable. He said he would stay with me even if my skin ended up permanently scarred like a survivor of smallpox, though I didn’t believe him. But with prescription drugs, my skin cleared up in about a week. Thank you, modern medicine!
So even though that first Valentine’s Day was solid proof that I found a keeper, the very thought of the holiday still makes me feel a bit itchy.
Do you have bad Valentine’s stories? I challenge you to share one that’s worse!