Tales of Valentine… Beautiful, Bad, and Ugly

By Rachel Sandstrom and Carly Atkinson

CoupleCarpetWhether you’re shopping the florid pinks and reds of the Safeway Dove-and-Hershey shrine, or the prolific yet muted checkout displays of Market of Choice’s artisan candies—at an estimated $6 per tiny chocolate heart—there’s no escaping Valentine’s Day this week. It may be the most universally side-eyed holiday of the year: couples complain that it builds societal expectations of a bliss-filled day that can be hard to live up to.

Meanwhile, there are enough red hearts, storefront chocolate displays, and “10 Adorable Things to Do for Your Valentine” clickbait articles to cause a pang in even the most happily single person.

Advocate staff polled social media (and their own ranks) for the best and the worst of Corvallis’ relationship stories.

A commenter on the Advocate’s Facebook page said, “My college boyfriend bought me a cactus, not flowers, for Valentine’s Day”; no hint as to whether this was a welcome departure from convention, or the turning point toward a prickly end to the relationship. Some stories are heartwarming and thoughtful. One anonymous poster on OSU’s Confessions Facebook page asked for advice on where to learn Spanish; he wants to surprise his Spanish-speaking girlfriend once he’s fluent. A flood of commenters suggested learning tools. One offered tutoring, and several commented on the affection displayed by the action.

Sweet and surprising, one contributor detailed her best Valentine’s Day: “My husband traveled quite a bit earlier in our marriage. One time he was back East and this trip was to run closer to five weeks. It was about in the middle of the trip and I was missing him terribly. He would call late at night when the kids were in bed and we could discuss each other’s days and how things were going. I could tell he was walking and talking on the phone. ‘I hear footsteps and you seem somewhat out of breath. Are you walking?’ ‘Yes, I’m walking and talking at the same time. I’m just walking down the street.’ Our chatting continued, then a knock came at the door. It was after 10 p.m. and I was home alone with the kids! ‘There’s a knock at the door!’ ‘I’m sure it’s OK, go answer it.’ ‘NO! It’s way too late and I’m alone!’ Knock. Knock. Knock. ‘What should I do?! I’m scared!’ ‘It’ll be OK. Put the phone down and go answer the door.’ ‘What?!’ ‘Just go answer the door.’ I gasped, dropped the phone, and ran down the stairs. Guess what?! It was him at the door! There was a break in his work and he took the time to come home.”

As expected, some stories are racy: an OSU student shared a memory of being caught in the act by a dorm-room fire alarm. “We had got the condom on, and then we heard the fire alarm start up in another building right before it went off in ours.”

For those who don’t have the luxury of even a cramped dorm room, Oregon offers outdoor options. Mary’s Peak is the classic choice for romantic dates, marriage proposals, and summertime hikes, but one reader recounted a quest through the surrounding hills in search of privacy. “We looked and looked for probably an hour. We finally followed a gravel road, and crossed a river on foot on train tracks. We found a nice spot in the woods on the other side of the train tracks. Very romantic with foxgloves all around. But after about 10 minutes we were found—by a cloud of mosquitoes!”

What about the moment when you know that the relationship is doomed? For some people it’s a series of disappointed realizations: the little incompatibilities, the acknowledgment that you aren’t headed the same place in life.

For others, the knowledge is sudden. “I and a number of volunteers spent half a Saturday in a multidisciplinary team catching up elder care cases. When I arrived home, my then-wife stated the opinion that everyone knew I was only there for business purposes. It was then that I realized she hated me, didn’t even barely know who I was, but hated me. There were kids, I tried to stick it out, but we split two years later.”

“An ex-boyfriend once asked me if I had ever thought about getting breast implants,” said one staffer. Deal-breaker for sure.

Another staffer stated that she knew it was over when “he cheated and left photos up in his phone. That’s not only rude, but stupid.”

Sometimes the best measure of a significant other is the way they treat other people. “I didn’t realize until years later why my mom hadn’t liked an old girlfriend of mine. She [the girlfriend] had apparently been extremely rude to my mom one time—the second after I walked out of the room,” said another reader.

Whether or not you like it, Valentine’s Day is almost here. Love it or hate it, the world is cloyingly pink until mid-February. If you’re into the holiday, enjoy it and be adorable and whatnot. If you’re not (like most of us here at The Advocate), don’t worry too much—the rest of February will be gloomy and cold, just like it should be.

And all the candy is heavily discounted Feb. 16, so that’s something to look forward to.