Pappas: Anyone free tonight?

By By Nicholas Pappas

By Nicholas Pappas

My first love was a girl named Jessica. She was blonde. She had a lisp, and she was about 6 inches taller than I was. We were four. I had to pull her hair to bring her down to my level.

I’ve had a thing for tall girls ever since. I think we all tend to pine for what could have been. I loved her as much as any 4-year-old could love anything — more than Dr Pepper, slightly less than Optimus Prime.

My family moved away when I was 7. I still wonder what happened to Jess. Maybe she’s in the WNBA. There’s no way to know for sure. She was simply the first in a long line of break-ups. There would be short girls. There would be more tall girls. The one thing all the relationships had in common was their inevitable conclusion.

So, here I am. Today is Valentine’s Day, and I’ll be one of thousands of single students out there who rename it “Singles Awareness Day.” I will laugh at friends making last-minute reservations at the Olive Garden. I will scoff at love poetry by people who think iambic pentameter is an emo band. I will feign independence.

To sum it all up, I will be alone.

Valentine’s Day is an unhappy reminder for most single people. I won’t act as if I were above it. Still, if the alternative is being in a convenient February relationship so I can get a heart-shaped balloon, I’d rather remain helium-free.

Let me explain.

Bad relationships are like Valentine’s Day chocolate.

When you’re eating chocolate, it’s bliss. You embrace it with all your senses. You can feel the slick coating between your fingers, smell the cocoa beans, taste the sweetness. You have given in to the creamy nougat.

Then you get fat — really fat. The longer you’re with the chocolate, the fatter you get. If you’re with it long enough, it takes a crane to move you out of bed — but you don’t care. It doesn’t matter how fat you are because, no matter what, you will always have that chocolate.

Then one day, you run out of chocolate.

So, there you are, fat as a hippo, and without a bonbon to show for it. You look in the mirror and know the real you is still there, but wonder if anyone else could ever see it through all the emotional lard.

You sit in bed for a while (you are much too fat to move around). Eventually, you try other chocolates. Maybe donuts. A cookie or two. It’s never the same.

One day you grow to realize how much you took the chocolate you had for granted. It’s an important lesson. Without losing it, you never would have known what it really meant to you. What if you got stuck eating the same chocolate for the rest of your life, always wondering if there is another, sweeter snack out there? You grow. You grow thin.

You go on.

I think that at a time like Valentine’s Day, we all get obsessed with what we don’t have and envy what others do. Yet, if you are alone, it means you haven’t settled, and you should have pride in that.

There will be girls and guys out there eating all-you-can-eat breadsticks and salad at the Olive Garden tonight, but some of them will simply add to their emotional lard and remain in a convenient relationship for all the wrong reasons.

So today, think about your past relationships. Think about what you learned from them. Think about why they’re over and remember not to make the same mistakes.

There are millions of people in bad relationships right now — and you’re not one of them. Half will end in divorce. One-fourth will stay together for convenience, hoping for one romantic night in February every year.

For those of you who choose to learn from your mistakes, I commend you and wish you the best. Some day, late at night, you will wake up with an old man or woman next to you and wonder how you got so lucky.

That’s what real love is.

As for me, I cook, I make elaborate metaphors and I promise a fat-free meal. Anyone need a date tonight?

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