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Anthony Staehelin ’10: What we’re really thankful for on Valentine’s Day

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ahhh, Valentine’s Day! It’s one of the most commercial and seemingly ubiquitous holidays of the year, with every store from Whole Foods to CVS decorating its shelves with pink and red hearts. It’s also a remarkable day because it affects almost everyone – some people will spend a romantic evening with their significant other, others will stay home with a tub of ice cream and a pile of DVDs and still others will spend the evening in a totally normal way, apparently unaware of the holiday… at least until they wake up the next day to an angry boyfriend or girlfriend!

Personally, I am very happy because this is the first year I actually have a girlfriend to celebrate with. Well, that’s not entirely true since I did have a girlfriend when I was in kindergarten. But since my mom recently confessed that it was not out of love that little Abby followed me around, but simply because I always had a bag of candy, I feel used and I’m not counting that year.

Anyway, as this is my first real Valentine’s Day, I want to make sure I do everything right. (Plus, I’ve been getting subtle hints that I better not “mess up.”) So I recently went to a store to find the perfect Valentine’s Day card to give to my girlfriend with her present.

As I perused the shelves of cards, I realized that all of them seemed to say the same things: “you’re always there for me,” “you make me laugh,” “you know how to make me feel better,” etc. And sure, all of those things are true, but there are so many things that are great about being in a relationship, so why is it that only a few of them ever get mentioned in greeting cards, and that they are always the same ones?

Yes, “having a shoulder to cry on” or “someone to cuddle with” are great perks of being in a relationship, but they are the obvious ones. What about all the other, less Hallmark-y aspects about relationships? They too deserve a commercial shout-out once in a while!

Therefore, with the goal of bringing something new to the world of greeting cards, I’ve compiled a list of just a few of the things I think are great about relationships that you will never see in a Hallmark card:

1) You can eat all the onion and garlic you want.

Oh how I missed garlic-roasted calamari and spaghetti alio e olio while I was single and trying to meet women. You know how it is – in the war for love, sacrifices need to be made. In my case, this was giving up onion and garlic. Although I loved both of these, I did not want my breath to be the reason the girls noticed me. And as you can never really be sure who you will run into on a college campus, I simply couldn’t take the risk of ever eating those ingredients. But now that I’m in a steady relationship and I know that my girlfriend will love me even if I smell like garlic, a world of possibilities is opening up: garlic bread, onion dip, roasted garlic, onion casserole…

2) It’s okay to have a bad hair day.

When you’re single and trying to meet women, you kind of always have to be careful of how you look. Although we should still try and look nice when we’re in a relationship, we don’t need to try as hard all the time. It’s okay to sleep a little longer and not look so great in 9 a.m. class.

And yes, how long you sleep is directly connected to how good you look in class. We’ve all pushed that snooze button, sacrificing different parts of our morning routine. We think: I’ll sleep five minutes longer and I won’t comb my hair, five more and I won’t brush my teeth, five more and I won’t pee! All this extra sleep is due to being in a relationship and knowing that that person will love you regardless of how you look.

3) It’s easier to kill spiders with two people.

This is one of the best things about a relationship. This has nothing to do with me not being man enough, it’s just that…well… there are some seriously big spiders out there! And the great thing about having a girlfriend is she can hold the flashlight and/or ladder depending on where the spider is as I slam my six-pack of cola (my preferred weapon) on the spider.

And there you have it. Three things that you would never see in a card, but that are truly the great elements of a relationship! So this Valentine’s Day, be thankful for that special someone, because they love you regardless of whether your breath smells, your hair is combed or your socks match, and in the direst of moments (such as facing spiders), they will be there for you.

Anthony Staehelin ’10 is a political science concentrator from Geneva, Switzerland. He can be reached at Anthony_Staehelin (at) brown.edu