Reluctant Townie: Signs that your Valentine's Day was a failure
Valentine's Day has come and gone again, having completed its yearly rounds, robbing the pockets of young lovers everywhere and making the lonesome feel just a little bit crummier than usual.
Like most bullies, it attacks us when we are defenseless: during the dark, cold months of winter, sneaking up behind us as we sit in front of our simulated daylight lamps, kicking us while we are already down in the frozen, snow-packed ditch.
Valentine's Day is an unfortunate consequence of existing in the United States during February and walking past the seasonal aisle at Walgreens, and the only thing any of us can do is endure it — to soldier on.
By all assumptions, if you are reading this, you have survived Valentine's Day 2014. But have you emerged from its labyrinth unscathed?
Sometimes it's hard to tell. That's why I'm here to help. Keep an eye out for the following signs that your Valentine's Day was a colossal failure.
WARNING SIGN: YOUR CAR IS CURRENTLY/WAS RECENTLY ON FIRE
Sure, it could have been an act of God. (How many lightning strikes does it take to ignite your Mercedes in a polar vortex?). But the likelihood that your car would spontaneously combust in the hours following Valentine's Day for any other reason than Bernadine found out you took your secretary to Sybaris instead of her is pretty slim.
Hell hath no fury like a Bernadine scorned. It's always wise for adulterers to remove any surplus of accelerants from their homes, especially around the holidays, when emotions run high and romantic candles are plentiful.
Bottom line: If your significant other torched your car over the weekend, your Valentine's Day failed to meet the minimum requirements of success.
WARNING SIGN: THIS IS THE FIRST THING YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS WHOLE "VALENTINE'S DAY BEING LAST FRIDAY" THING
I know, it's happened to me many times. When you spend most of February staring listlessly at the floor, wondering why you still live so far north of the equator and if your body will ever know warmth again, it's easy to miss the calendar hanging on the wall above you, warning you of the approaching storm of candy hearts.
If you find yourself reading this column with the slowly dawning realization that you haven't talked to your girlfriend since she messaged you on Friday asking what your plans for the night were, and you replied "a frozen Jack's pizza and 'Shark Tank'" — don't panic.
There's always the patented Ryan Jackson Two-Point Conversion V-Day Hail Mary Pass, where you show up two days late with a bunch of discounted candies and flowers and pretend that was the plan all along. You know, because Valentine's Day is "so corporate" and your love is "so alt." It's, uh, never worked for me. But you might be the exception.
Bottom line: If it's not already too late, close the sunroof on your Mercedes, lock the doors and hide the lighter fluid from Bernadine.
WARNING SIGN: YOU ARE MARRIED TO SOMEONE YOU DID NOT KNOW ON FEB. 13
Love will make you do lots of crazy things. Getting married to a stranger you met in Las Vegas is not one of them. Love doesn't make you do that. Complimentary Long Island iced teas at the craps table make you do that. While Las Vegas does not keep statistics on how many of its drive-thru marriages end in divorce, I think it's safe to assume 100 percent of them do.
Bottom line: In Illinois, you have 90 days to annul your marriage if it is discovered that one or more of the parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage. In the world of divorce court, this is popularly known as the Chardonnay and Cialis defense.
WARNING SIGN: YOUR VALENTINE'S DAY PLANS INCLUDED SUBWAY'S NEW FRITOS CHICKEN ENCHILADA MELT
Sure, it's being endorsed by Olympic gold medal winner and Olympic-level bong casher Michael Phelps, who looks like the kind of guy who eats Subway for most of his meals and would therefore know what's up.
But Phelps also looks like the kind of guy you wouldn't want to share a bathroom with. (And not just because he refuses to clean his body hair shavings out of the shower drain.) This featured sandwich does nothing to change that perception.
Bottom line: If your Friday plans involved devouring the new Frito Chicken Enchilada Melt ("new" being a codeword for "severity of gastrointestinal side effects unknown") at any point before, during, or after your romantic rendezvous — you failed Valentine's Day. Full stop.
WARNING SIGN: YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER TOLD YOU NOT TO MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF VALENTINE'S DAY, AND YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVED THAT
Oh, to be young and foolish. Or 12 years married and foolish. Whatever your skill level in relationships, hopefully you learned an important life lesson: When your romantic partner asks you not to make a big deal out of a holiday, what they really mean is that they have lowered their expectations so far that it is nearly impossible for you to disappoint them unless you take them at face value and do absolutely nothing for Valentine's Day.
Bottom line: Dude, you can buy flowers at the gas station. It's not rocket science.
Ryan Jackson has failed more Valentine's Days than he's won, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.