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I Took Myself Out Alone For Valentine's Day

Cosmopolitan logo Cosmopolitan 15/2/2017 Hannah Smothers

The only thing worse than people who treat Valentine's Day as the single greatest holiday to befall the Hallmark calendar are the people who think it's *still* cute and clever to loathe Valentine's Day like it's a crime against humanity. Love it or loathe it, someone's always going to disagree with you.

The true way to win at Valentine's Day, therefore, is to do whatever the hell you want! This year, for me, that meant becoming my own Valentine and treating myself to the sort of February 14 no man could ever successfully pull off. Why expect something from a bumbling idiot boy when you can just DO đź‘Ź IT đź‘Ź YOURSELF đź‘Ź , and do it better than anyone else possibly could? I also wasn't exactly left with much of a choice - I'm recently single, and had no intentions of finding a new Valentine yet. So on this February 14, I decided to lean way the fuck into the most obnoxiously tacky holiday of the year and give myself everything I've always wanted.

My dream Valentine's Day is one filled with all the cliché traditions I'd never deign ask a man to fulfill for me. For fear of coming across as silly and frivolous, I've always been scared of asking a man for a giant box of chocolates, even though that's something I secretly want. But this year, since my Valentine is myself, I asked me for all the tacky Valentine's items my trashy little heart desired.

Act 1: Lots of chocolates (and other trash)

© Ruben Chamorro

It occurs to me that almost all of the best shit about Valentine's Day is stuff you can truly just buy for yourself. Sure, you might say, "Blah blah, heartfelt gestures from loved ones," or whatever, but do you know what's better than love? Stuff! Stuff never dies, and stuff never breaks your heart. So the first mission on my perfect Valentine's Day was to get more chocolates than any person should probably consume in her entire lifetime. I went searching at CVS and was met with a boundless supply of red shiny boxes.

What sort of chocolates would my Valentine be getting me? Whichever ones I wanted! And the ones I wanted happened to be the biggest box in the whole dang store. Valentine's Day comes but once a year buddies, so in the eternal words of someone, somewhere: go big or go home. A kind cashier rang up my giant candy box, and because it literally wouldn't fit in a shopping bag, I cradled it all the way back to my office like it was my baby. Goo goo ga ga, look at all my candy, suckers. Someone clearly loves me.

© Hannah Smothers

I also grabbed myself a stuffed animal monkey at the drugstore, because they were cute and I wanted one. Will I throw this monkey in the garbage within the next year, if not sooner? Almost definitely. But I wanted to flaunt a symbol of love to myself that wouldn't be digested with my lunch. So for now, the monkey looks very cute propped up on my desk. I'm sure he will also look very cute in a Manhattan trash pile sometime in the near future.

The final romantic accoutrement I deserved was a lovely bouquet of flowers. It's actually a tradition of mine to buy myself a bunch of flowers on Valentine's Day, even if I have a boyfriend to buy them for me, because the best flowers are the ones you pick for yourself.

Act 2: A "surprise" pizza for me, from me, because me

© Kathleen Kamphausen

Because my Valentine is terrible at keeping secrets, I already knew I'd be headed to a fancy restaurant for dinner. But a gal's gotta eat more than one meal a day, and why can't a sad desk lunch be romantic, too? I've always dreamt of being surprised in the middle of my workday with the sexiest of all foods: a giant, greasy pizza in the shape of a heart. So imagine my joy when I was "surprised" with the exact sort of organ-shaped pizza I've always wanted at lunchtime at work!

I didn't have the heart (get it?) to tell the delivery guy I had ordered these pizzas (as in two whole pizzas) for myself.

love pizza from me, for me, because me

A post shared by hannah (@hannahsmo) on Feb 14, 2017 at 10:09am PST

The best part about ordering so much pizza is that I had leftovers to share with my coworkers. Do you know how you cheer up an entire office of mostly women on February 14? Announce that there is cute pizza on the counter and that it's up for grabs.

Act 3: Romantic dinner for one, as in one single person

© Mylan Torres

I spent last year's Valentine's Day running around lower Manhattan in the freezing ass cold weather because my date hadn't managed to snag a reservation ahead of time. We were put on a crazy long waitlist at a random restaurant - a hell we rightfully deserved. Had I been my own date, I never would've left such an important meal up to sheer luck. No way. So I picked a restaurant with a prix-fixe menu that gave me headspins it looked so good, and called to make a reservation for one on Valentine's Day.

Let me just say first that the woman who answered the phone was really nice. If I was a hostess, I don't know how I'd handle a phone call from some woman requesting a table for one on probably the busiest date night of the year. I called my restaurant of choice - Rosemary's in West Village - and braced for whatever confusion I'd be met with. Here is how that conversation went, roughly:

Me: "Hi, I was wondering if you guys were still taking reservations for Valentines's Day dinner?"

Hostess: "Yes! We are."

Me: "Ok great! Can I reserve a table for one?"

Hostess: "For one... party of two?"

Me: "No, like for one person alone."

Hostess: "Oh, well it depends on the time..."

Me: "I'd like a table for one at 5 p.m., if that's possible."

Hostess: "Oh at 5! You can just walk right in."

All things considered, this call could've been a lot worse. I was worried they wouldn't let me hog a table for myself when there are approximately 38 billion happy and hungry couples in this dang city looking for a sweet prix-fixe situation on Valentine's Day. Maybe this hostess felt sympathy for me, or, just maybe, she respected the hell out of me for having the audacity to book a table for one on V-Day.

© Instagram/@hannahsmo

The hostess at Rosemary's gave me the regular menu when she sat me at my table in the corner. She told me they had a prix-fixe tasting menu for the night, but warned that it was "kind of a lot of food" for one person. Did I want to see that menu? YES. I ordered a glass of red wine, thanks-very-much, and prepared myself for what looked to be an onslaught of carbs.

A substantial cheese plate was placed before me on a slab of wood I imagine would normally be set in the center of the table for two people to share. Now we're talking.

Course two was some sort of pasta thing that had chunks of lobster in it. Approximately two-thirds of that dish are currently sitting in my refrigerator. My main course was salmon (something light!), and then the true main attraction arrived: A chocolate lava cake, meant for two. Do you want to know something about chocolate lava cake meant for two? It's totally fine for one if one is all you are.

Interlude: Feelings

© Mylan Torres

At this point in this deranged Valentine's extravaganza, I have to tell you I'm recently single because I just went through a breakup two weeks ago. Like any other reasonable person, I've spent the past two weeks actively avoiding any downtime where my brain might dredge up memories that could make me feel sad. So there was a moment during my second course when it occurred to me that, for the next two hours, my only activity would be to sit alone at this dinner table and eat, slowly. I started to panic. I imagined his face lit up by the candle at my table, and how we'd probably have fought over the single deviled egg on the cheese plate. I thought about how the two of us would've looked so much more natural there in the restaurant with all the other couples.

But at some point in any breakup, you have to take a moment to let all the sad things you've been stuffing away catch up to you. And yet it's never as bad as you think it's going to be. Once my panic wore off and I placed another bite of lobster pasta in my mouth, I realized I was really enjoying myself. So much so that I didn't feel sad watching all the men carrying flowers walking by outside not the sidewalk - I just felt hopeful.

Sure, I love to buy my own flowers and eat fancy dinners by myself, but alone at dinner on Valentine's Day, it felt good to acknowledge that maybe I'll have double the bouquets to place on my windowsill someday. And it's okay to want that, too.

Finale: I'm a great Valentine

© Ruben Chamorro

I was nervous going into this. When I slipped into my date dress on Valentine's morning, that hollow feeling of being all dressed up with nowhere to go (and no one to tell you how hot you look) flashed by. Would I finish the evening feeling more alone than ever? But I knew I wasn't going to back out. It's very rude to stand yourself up.

Sometime in the afternoon, between the heart pizza and my fancy meal, I realized I'd actually been in a really good mood all day. All the tacky charades - no matter how ridiculous I knew they were - were making me really happy.

It's fun to trade your typical desk lunch for a heart-shaped pizza, it's fun to eat so many chocolates you feel sick (on occasion), and it's fun to treat yourself to a four-course meal meant for two, and take most of it home as leftovers. It's also fun to share all of those things with someone you have a big ol' crush on, but the alternative of making those things happen for yourself isn't bad at all, either.

I think I'm actually the best Valentine I've ever had. And should that come as a surprise to anyone? Absolutely not.

Follow Hannah on Twitter and Instagram.

I Was My Own Valentine This Year and It Was Great © Mylan Torres I Was My Own Valentine This Year and It Was Great

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