My first and worst Valentine’s Day
Every girl dreams of having a valentine. Like a really cheesy, disgusting, romantic valentine, with flowers, chocolates, a dinner date, and a sweet, smooth kiss to top it all off at the end of the night. I was 19-years-old and my dream was about to come true.
My girlfriend and I had been on-and-off since high school, but last year was the first time we had a chance to be together on Valentine’s Day. She made a reservation at a very fancy, expensive restaurant (we both had jobs and figured we’d splurge like true adults). The entire day I was buzzing about it. I couldn’t wait to get home and get dressed up for an actual date.
As I was doing my makeup I started getting a headache. I had some chills and felt a bit uneasy, but took some Motrin and hoped it would wear off. I picked up my girlfriend, who had a dozen roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates already in hand, along with a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card with my name written in large, cursive letters on the envelope. Swoon, right? I lived for the things that made us feel like an old married couple.
Every classic romance movie I’d ever seen was flashing through my head. I’m hopelessly romantic, and not for the clout. Gift giving is my first love language for friends, families and partners. Those little gifts made me want to squeal like a little girl. But the best part about that whole day was having every love language wrapped into one date, like an overload of love.
We went to Firebirds, a steakhouse with an enormous wall of wine bottles and a wood-fire grill in the kitchen that we could see from our table. Per our splurge agreement, we both ordered piña coladas and shared lobster spinach queso as an appetizer. I still had a bit of a headache, and I was starting to get chills now, while also sweating a little at the same time. Halfway into eating the dip, my stomach lurched. I excused myself to go to the bathroom for a minute and dropped to my knees once I locked the door, my nausea rising. I basically emptied my entire stomach, lobster spinach queso filled the toilet bowl in front of me, and I was devastated.
My stomach felt better so I thought maybe it was a freak, one time thing that wouldn’t happen again. I hadn’t thrown up from any kind of sickness since I was 6 or 7-years-old. It could be nerves, or something I ate earlier, who knew? I was panicking nonetheless. There was no way my first Valentine’s Day was going to be ruined like this. I got up and rinsed my mouth out the best I could and went back to the table.
I wasn’t embarrassed to tell my girlfriend what happened; we’d both seen each other pretty sick before. She made sure I was okay and I insisted I was fine and wanted to stay.
A manager came around after our dinners came out and asked us how our food was. We talked with him for a minute before he excused himself, letting us get back to “date night.” Getting called a couple in a public setting was a big deal for us. Neither of our families were the most supportive of our relationship, but having a normal date night where we were recognized as a couple on “date night” was pleasantly surprising.
My bubbling excitement soon turned to dread as my headache escalated to a migraine and I felt another wave of nausea washed over me. One look at me after eating the steak was enough to prove I was suffering. We got boxes for the rest of our dinners we couldn’t finish and took dessert to go. I was trying so hard to wave off the ever-growing pit in my stomach and denied needing to throw up again until the last possible second. As I stood up to put my coat on, it hit me and I bolted to the bathroom. I only halfway made it, getting some vomit on the floor and the toilet seat. I wanted to cry. And die. Actually both.
There were other people in the bathroom this time so I had to hoard off a gaggle of middle-aged women knocking on the stall door asking if I needed help, which I stubbornly turned down. I was frantically trying to clean up the mess which had also gotten on my jeans. My girlfriend also came in to try to help me but I was mortified. I can’t stand feeling vulnerable or pitied, and had to force myself to smile and mutter a few “thank you’s” at the chirpy girl who told me I could get a mint from the host stand. I had my own gum and went straight to the car. Valentine’s Day dinner had been disgustingly ruined.
Turns out I had a nasty stomach bug. I figured I’d caught it from my roommate who’d had it a few weeks prior. I sulked in the passenger seat while my girlfriend drove home, trying to reassure me that we could redo Valentine’s Day another week. I didn’t care; I didn’t want to reschedule. I wanted my cheesy, romantic dinner date to not be ruined with my helpless projectile vomiting. And I wanted it on February 14th, not a day before or after.
I threw up every hour until about 3 a.m. and couldn’t stomach anything until nearly dinner time the next day. I only missed one day of class and then had the weekend to finish recovering. Dragging myself down to the health center the next morning felt like a marathon, even though I took the bus. I hadn’t had a stomach bug like that since I was quite literally a toddler. And it was just my luck that I would finally catch one again on my first Valentine’s Day with an actual valentine.
This year I’ve resolved to make dinner at home with a new date and all of our friends. I’m cooking lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs and fettuccine alfredo with tons of cheesy garlic bread. Hopefully, I don’t catch any illnesses this year, but if I do, at least I won’t be ruining a $90 dinner.