As you read this on Friday, thousands of doting couples will have already ceremoniously defiled my birthday with mushy love letters and hoards of chocolate.
And I will be hung over after a night of sangria. I prefer my calories in liquid form, thank you very much.
Being born on Valentine’s Day is not as cool as it seems (kind of like being born on Feb. 29 — I always wondered what happened to those people on non-leap years.) It is a great conversation icebreaker. After I get to know someone’s name, college, year, hometown, etc., I pre-emptively ask when his or her birthday is, in anticipation of the reciprocated question. Once in a while, the plan backfires and I get trumped by a more noteworthy birthday, like Feb. 29.
But usually he or she will then ask: “So, when’s your birthday?”
Me: (simply) “Feb. 14.”
Someone (after a pause of deep thought): “Wait, isn’t that Valentine’s Day?”
Me: an excited “Yeah!” as if to say, aren’t I cool, do you love me now?
Someone: “Wow. Isn’t that awesome?”
Me (dejectedly): “No, not so much.”
Thus usually ends the conversation. I didn’t say it extended conversations, just a good broke the ice.
Valentine’s Day reminds all the single people how much it stinks to be single. For one day, couples are extolled for their togetherness while single people are banished to bars and pitchers of sangria. Yes, age, midterms and being single can make a person especially cynical.
But actually, this bittersweet celebration of my birthday and depressing reminder of being single on V-Day has become an annual sadomasochistic, self-indulgent ritual. I go out with some girlfriends, we bemoan the lack of eligible, decent guys (at Yale, this is easy since it seems all good guys are gay or with girlfriends), and consequently get really drunk and have a great time in our commiseration.
This year, I have bigger issues to deal with than just sharing my birthday with nauseatingly syrupy couples. On top of my usual V-day gripe is the horribly depressing milestone of turning 20: It’s like a quarter-life crisis. I should have been celebrating the night of the 13th: my last day of youth!
Twenty is absolutely the worst age to be. A few years ago, my friend told me that if a woman asks you to guess her age, the safest answer is 20 because if she’s younger, it flatters her maturity, and if she’s older, it flatters her youthful looks.
I agreed with the logic wholeheartedly, until I myself turned 20. In social discourse, being 20 may be complimentary but in actuality, it just stinks. I can’t drink (legally) or get into clubs in New Haven (legally). At the same time, I no longer can blame my recklessness or irresponsibility on being an innocent, carefree teenager. I can never be precocious again, because now I am expected to achieve and do great things.
Getting a real job, finding a husband and starting a family (or at least filing my own taxes) seem to loom right around the corner. The quiet tick of the biological clock has just started. I can barely do my own laundry, I sleep on Scooby Doo bed sheets, and I still check the KayBee Toy Store ads in the paper. I don’t want to grow up, because if I did, I wouldn’t be a Toys R Us kid!
Alas, in preparation for my future adulthood, I felt inclined to get a job this semester. I am proud to say I hold the official title of “Research Assistant,” subtitle: “Master Xerox Copying Consultant.” It feels good to know that though I risk hazardous paper cuts, my superior, Ivy-League-cultivated data entry and copying skills are facilitating cutting edge psychological discoveries!
Turning 20 puts the finishing touches on the sophomore slump. I’ve been there, drank that, and seen all the nasty innards of Yale’s frat system. I have not yet met any of those senior guys who supposedly go after sophomore girls, though I have regrettably witnessed the quite disturbing sophomore guy hit on a bedazzled freshman.
The only redeeming factor of being 20 is being able to more legitimately date 25-year-olds, although I’ve got no use for that legitimacy — refer to problem of being single above.
So, this birthday has hit me with a double whammy. Having a birthday on Valentine’s Day and turning 20 during sophomore slump. This no-(wo)man zone trapped between a wild adolescence and a legally drinking and gambling adulthood portends a year of doldrums.
But I am not alone. My ambivalent sentiments are shared and best expressed by the sagacious words of Britney Spears: “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.”
Nicole Lim is a sophomore in Berkeley College. Her columns appear on alternate Fridays.