It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. At least, that’s what most people would like to think. Sometimes, love stinks. Or at least, Valentine’s Day stinks. Or it did for me, many years ago.
You see, many years ago I was dating a guy who wasn’t the most romantic on the planet. I’m actually being pretty charitable when I say that; this was the sort of person who wouldn’t give a gift unless it was an actual holiday. Spur of the moment gifts? Not his thing. Saying that he loved you? I might be lucky to hear it once in a while behind a closed door or two but that was about it. Hand holding? Well, he was worse than a seven year old who thought that girls had cooties. (I’m not even kidding about that one.) For whatever reason, I loved him and I thought that he loved me.
Or he supposedly did. He just had trouble showing it. At least, that was the lie I told myself. I tried like hell to believe it.
Back in 1993, Transformers: Generation 2 was a thing. There were toys. Which I wanted. Now being someone of limited means, I could really only get the smaller, less expensive toys. The larger items, such as G2 Optimus Prime, where out of my reach. So when Valentine’s Day rolled around, I decided I’d ask my then SO for something I really wanted: G2 Optimus Prime. That was all. No card, no candy, none of that sort of thing. Just G2 Prime. My then SO told me what he wanted: a silver G2 Grimlock to complete his Dinobots set and a copy of Adventure Island 2 for Game Boy.
Here’s the problem: I was a senior in high school and had no job. The game alone was around thirty dollars. I had no idea where I would get that sort of money.
Don’t ask me how, but I managed. I was able to scrape together the cash–about forty dollars or so–and got everything he wanted. It took some hunting, as the silver G2 Grimlock was difficult to find but I did it. I was ecstatic. I had gotten everything that my SO had wanted. He would be pleased and I was sure that my persistence would be repaid.
I was so cutely naive back then, I admit.
Instead of G2 Optimus Prime, my SO decided to get me something else: a small, cheap unicorn necklace that he found at a drug store and a box of chocolate that held three pieces of candy. My gift cost him a grand total of seven dollars.
When I called him out for being cheap, he got upset: how could I be so ungrateful? Didn’t I know that this was all he could afford? So naturally, I had to apologize. But after I did, I regretted it immediately.
My SO had a part time job that paid him $300 week. He had no bills, paid no rent and only had to keep his gas tank filled. He didn’t even pay the insurance for his car; his parents did. He had the money, but I realized that he simply didn’t want to spend it. Or rather, he didn’t want to spend it on me. He’d rather spend the cash on a new SNES game.
I learned where I ranked in his life. It was a rather harsh lesson but I did learn.
I can look back on this and laugh a little, in a “Just how dumb was I?” sort of sense. But I am also grateful that this happened. It gave me a good reason to get up off my tail and get Optimus Prime on my own. And it also gave me perspective: when my SO and I broke up, I came to the realization that yes, it was for the better. I was better off without him.
It turns out that the thing I didn’t want that Valentine’s Day was the thing I needed, in more ways than one.