For single people, Valentine’s Day is basically a reminder of what is missing in your life, not really a celebration of the happiness of others. Valentine’s Day is Rubbing It In Day. But this year, instead of being depressed, I’m proposing that the lonely hearts and I take a much simpler and healthier approach to compensating for a lack of a hand-holding by hitting the bar at noon on a Thursday. Come with me, take the day off and put your jammies on and experience your entire relationship run its course as you live vicariously through these six movies. By tomorrow you’ll feel free and alive and glad to be alone to drink the last of the coffee in the morning.
Act I, The Stalking: Sixteen Candles
The reason we are starting with stalking is because, if ’80s movies can be believed, that’s how most relationships begin. Also, extreme crush-stalking is actually sort of enjoyable in its painful pining, and it builds character. We need to remind ourselves of just how hard it is to find someone who like-likes you back. Just don’t expect anyone you have been stalking to sit on a table filled with cake and kiss you. There will probably be some sort of a restraining order involved instead.
Act II, The Revelation: Clueless
It was bound to happen — you’ve been following/stalking the wrong person all along! You’re in love with your ex-stepbrother, of course! Just like in every other story that exists featuring a girl and boy who start as friends (like the literary classic, Emma, that Clueless is based on), you were bound to kiss. The lesson in this revelation is that you have to come to terms with an appropriate dating pool. Instead of stalking the swingin’ hot gay dude, Cher needed to focus on the slacker college guy already in her life. You want to try to date someone a tiny bit below you so that they are always grateful to have you sitting around in your unflattering flannel pajamas and they won’t care if you can’t make the house smell like home-baked cookies.
Act III, The Fantasy Self: Beginners
You are suddenly Ewan McGregor. You meet someone, you present your best self. They in turn, (a hot French girl), are their best self. The beginning of your relationship is built on tiny white lies, as you drag yourself to a party dressed as Sigmund Freud when you’d rather be at home in front of the TV. In the first few months, you are smarter, funnier, sexier and more daring than you knew you could ever be. You roller skate down hotel hallways and do crazy dance moves. This is why everyone pines for the beginning of their relationships later. We miss the crazy person we were trying to get away with being, before our real boring self came out and called the bluff. But eventually you realize you were pining for a lie, and you fall in love with your real person more, anyway.
Act IV, The Fight: Say Anything/High Fidelity
I couldn’t decide between the aching fights in Say Anything or High Fidelity. Then I realized they both involve an emotional relationship with music-obsessed John Cusack where he calls you from a payphone in the pouring rain. What? How is it possible I never noticed how similar these movies are!? Your choice is between losing your virginity to a sweet boy in sweat pants and telling your dad about it before you break up with him and give him a pen, or the more realistic version where you have a long term relationship with a downer guy who runs a record store and you just get tired of his face. Either way, you go through a terrible fight and make up in the end, which feels so good since the fight was so painful and wet and cold.
Act V, The Bed Death: The Kids Are Alright
You have been together so long you just don’t exist to each other. You focus too much on your kids, and worst of all possible calamities, you have succumbed to lesbian bed death. Sooner or later, it’s a matter of time before one of you cheats, even going so far as to consider another sexual orientation. And Mark Ruffalo is pretty irresistible, but also kind of annoying with his bike-riding organic farmer routine (yeah, you heard me, San Francisco!). However, who could resist Julianne Moore? By the end, you learn how to make it work and how to love each other more. But, as we embark on the final stage of our relationship, you have a choice to make.
Act VI, Choose Your Own Adventure
Now the choice is up to you, since this is your vicarious relationship. Do you choose:
1. Ultimate Romance: The Young Victoria
You’ve suddenly become quite in love with your first cousin, with whom you bear nine children. Your romance is sickening, in the best possible way, and the fact that you are monarchs who are waited on hand and foot helps. He dies 20 years into your marriage and afterward you go into serious mourning and you refuse to leave the house for the next 40 years of your reign as the Queen of England.
2. Heroin Addicts: Sid and Nancy
After the lesbian bed death and a little couples therapy, you both decide to take up heroin. You run around in hippy dresses and leopard print underwear in the street shouting you’re Stevie Nicks, with bruises on your arms. Everything feels alive, everything seems possible, until you start coming to terms with your drug habit while living in a crappy hotel and you beg your boyfriend to stab you to death.
3. The Lonely Epiphany: Gone With the Wind
If there’s one thing about human nature that can be learned from Scarlett O’Hara, it’s that we always want what we can’t have. It turns out that this whole time you’ve been married, you’ve never really loved your husband. Until the minute he leaves you. Then you are painfully, hopelessly in love with the one man who wants to see your head on a spike in the front yard. You crawl away to your childhood home and try to cheer yourself up with a fistful of dirt.
4. The Saddest Conclusion: Blue Valentine
You have reconciled and gone to counseling, and come to terms with loving each other a little less than you used to. You are trying to raise your child with your drunk husband, Ryan Gosling, while he wears pedophile-style ’70s sunglasses. It’s true he loves the kid and you, too, but you hate his hair, and nothing can ever bring back the good old days when he sang to you in a silly voice with a ukulele. You have the loneliest, most painful attempt at a sexy evening and your relationship crumbles into a million little pieces. Yours is the saddest divorce in the history of the world.
There, now. Don’t you feel a little relieved? It’s better to have loved and lost… and you did a lot of loving today. You survived Valentine’s Day without ever having to be alone. Now you can go take over the entire bed by yourself.