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City Girl - By Lilla.
Women, especially single women, really try to find a lesson in all of their relationship and romance experiences. It's what drives us, what fools us into thinking that all this dating nonsense is truly worthwhile. So when it comes to Valentine's Day, scarlet demon holiday, we can't help but wonder what all of the VDays in our past have taught us over the years.

In fourth grade, we had a huge paper-mache mailbox in the middle of the classroom that was decorated to look like a pink and white Victorian House. Several days before, every child was sent home with a list of everyone in class, since you were required to give every classmate a valentine. I went to the drug store with my mom and scored the very last packet of Muppets cards and gave the sexy Miss Piggy ones to the boys I had crushes on. That afternoon, I felt my first twinges of sexual tension in the air. Maybe it was that we got the afternoon off with no lesson plan, or maybe it was the general sugar rush from too many candy hearts, but there was palpable excitement in the air. Lesson Learned: Potential romance is always afoot.

In Junior High, Valentines Day was an excuse for social warfare. Actually, anything was an excuse for social warfare. Valentines were slipped into lockers professing true love, but the mean, popular girls planted them. Guys attempted to orchestrate elaborate make-out games at the dance so they could French kiss the mean, popular girls. Good thing I was mean and popular, otherwise those Valentines Days would have sucked. Lesson Learned: Ulterior motives are always afoot.

In High School, for a few bucks, you could send someone a rose in the middle of class with a little note. Basically, it was a very public way to laud kids who were getting lucky with the opposite sex - they were toting around long-stemmed roses all day. It was also a very public way to ascertain who was a 'late bloomer' - note the lack of blooming flowers. In my junior year, I got an unprecedented six roses from my boyfriend - one in every class. Then I ran into his ex girlfriend who was toting around a rose too from my boyfriend as a sign of "friendship." When I confronted my guy he told me that he was secretary of the charity group who organized the roses, so he got a bunch of "leftovers" for free, so it wasn't a big deal. I got six leftover roses. Lesson Learned: Men have no clue.

For us sorority chicks college, Valentines was an excuse to wear a hot pink hoochie top and get wasted on sticky red drinks, and make out with some sweaty dude on the dance floor. Then we'd wake up with a wicked hangover and a torn pink hoochie top. Even though it's ten years later, I would venture to say we had a pretty appropriate thing going, in lieu of the holiday - and I am tempted to try to relive it. Lesson Learned: Alcohol and romance are inseparably entwined.

And then there were the single twenties. The one night I went out with the girls with black corsages -- we swore we would go out and party and decry love - but then I got ditched because all of the ladies had script coverage due the next day at work. One V Day I spent drunk on a flight to Singapore, and wept openly while watching "Lilo and Stitch." And last year, at the ripe old age of 29, I spent this oh-so-special night on a cot next to my parents' bed, in a cabin, in the mountains on a family ski trip. Lesson learned: Life can be surprisingly lame, pathetic, or creepy.

But even worse were the Valentine holidays I had to spend with the men of my twenties. One year I got a gift basket of bath gel with the "Rite Aid" price tag still attached. ($7.99.) After that, a man took me to dine outside on that chilly February night, where I caught pneumonia and morphed into a shivering phlegm-machine. And finally, another man got inebriated during our wine tasting in Sonoma, and after yelling at me for drinking too much, he ripped the hotel telephone out of the wall and nearly drowned in the bathtub. Lesson Learned: No matter what you think you know, life can be surprisingly lamer, more pathetic, and creepier than you could ever imagine.

So, what about this year? Maybe I should throw a dinner party for some friends - but that reeks of overcompensation. Or get out of town and go somewhere myself - but that seems a bit extreme. Or sit at home with a bottle of pink champagne and watch old Sex in the City DVDs - but that sounds cliché. Or maybe I will try to track down a pack of Muppets cards and some candy hearts and distribute like the old days. But as subsequent Valentine's Days march along, I have got to wonder: why are all the great lessons we learn in life are the ones we learn early on?

City Girl - By Lilla.

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