I’m not sure if I’m supposed to mention this is my TNB debut. Is it professional? Do I pretend to be part of the furniture?

If I do will someone sit on me?

Babbling—first day nerves.

I was supposed to write this in the morning. That didn’t happen.

When I woke up there was a woman in my room. This was both a novelty and more than a little unexpected. She was the room inspector. They knock on the door and if they don’t get an answer they assume you’re out. I was not out. I was in bed, eyes half shut and body fully naked.

It was like a bad sitcom. I’m surprised no one has made a sitcom set around University life.

Nearly exposing myself to a fifty year old housing manager was bad luck. It’s Friday the 13th. Tomorrow is February 14th; which will bring worse luck.

It is extremely unlikely I will get anywhere near exposing myself to a lady tomorrow.

Historically Valentines Day, like every other day of the year, has been a non-event. Some people get romantic, some people get horny. Some people get taken out to dinner, and then get horny.

I tend to hate Valentines Day. Not just out of jealousy and bitterness.

The whole packaging of ‘love.’

The idea of making ostentatious displays of affection based on a date which has no actual significance to your own relationship.

Because you’re told to by adverts and banners and Hallmark.

It’s absurd.

Women won’t get taken out by their husbands or boyfriends most days in February; or any other month for that matter.

But somehow society has been persuaded that if you don’t get a special Valentines meal-for-two at the local trattoria you are unloved and should consider divorce proceedings immediately.

It’s all a little false. Buying your girlfriend a bracelet on June 23rd just because you suddenly realised how much she means to you is romantic.

Buying one on February 14th because everyone else is isn’t really evocative of love.

This is to prove I love you with all my heart

All my soul

And 30% of my current bank balance.

Valentines Day is just there to exploit social conventions of love and make ugly people feel bad.

I don’t really get the whole relationship for the sake of it thing.

I mean I get why people do it—you don’t have to have a deep emotional bond to have a physical one.

That’s an innocent way of saying ‘people who don’t love each other still fuck like banshees in the back of Ford pickup trucks most Friday nights.’

Maybe I’m lazy. I don’t really see any joy in going to all that effort to pound away listlessly at a slightly fat chick who I personally find abhorrent to both look at and talk to.

I’ve also come to accept that it’s generally true that pretty girls don’t dig strange individuals who spend a lot of time writing and not much time working out or drinking in ‘party’ environments.

You don’t meet many girls staying in. But is a lifestyle change really worth it? I quite like my lifestyle. It’s not like I never talk to girls, I just don’t go out of my way to do so.

A lack of ‘hunting’ instinct.

I’m pathetically romantic at heart. I sort of believe in love.

The last time I sent a Valentines card I was about 5.

There was a girl in my class I really liked, Grace. She was sort of pretty for a 5 year old as I remember.

The problem was, well, one of numerous problems: I was something of a self-critical avant-garde artist at that age.

I made her a card, a great big pinkish-red heart. It was this colour because I couldn’t decide whether she’d appreciate the feminine touch of pink of the anatomical correctness of red.

It didn’t really matter.

Because when I was about 5, every time I made a drawing I would add ‘rain clouds.’

This essentially meant colouring the entire page black.

It was sort of an emo thing to do in hindsight, pretty bleak. Nihilist. The sort of Valentine Kurt Cobain might have sent.

It should have had an inscription.

Love is a deep, hopeless, black abyss.

Ultimately I decided at the eleventh hour to throw the card away.

A similar thing happened a few years later when I was about thirteen and understood why looking at boobies was fun.

I spent about half an hour locked away writing a letter.

A love letter.

It was pathetic.

Especially as I was a nerd at school.

Again, at the eleventh hour I tore it up and deposited fragments in several bins so that no one would ever, EVER find out.

It was quite a sweet letter, but this was at a time, a time that still exists, where all the girls liked the guys with wispy facial hair and rebellious band t-shirts.

And talking of young love, Britain can boast another proud, proud day.

We have a 13 year old father! Not surprising given our world class teen pregnancy rates and increasingly apathetic parents.

The story is especially close to my heart as the father, mother—and now the little baby—all live in Eastbourne, which is where I call home when not at university.

He was 12 at the time of intercourse. I can’t imagine having had sex at 12—especially not with an older woman.

When I say older woman, I mean 15.

It’s kind of creepy, but kind of cute. It’s like pre-Victorian times, when you married at 5, bore children at 12 and died aged 20.

The story sickens and appalls me, but at the same time it’s strangely sweet. The poor kid is very naïve, but his heart, unlike his penis, is in the right place.

Read the Times article here. They provide a link to a video interview. 

The cynic in me thinks it’s probably bullshit, the parents will never see each other again and the poor kid will be fucking in alleyways for crack money at the age of 10.

It’s a weird one….for once I don’t know what to think.

Happy Valentines.


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James D. Irwin is a British writer based in the Hampshire countryside. His work has appeared online, in print, and on stage. He can be contacted at [email protected]

6 responses to “Reflections on Love, Valentines and My Limited Romantic Past”

  1. […] Flashbacks: Rants *Erika Rae wants to start a fight.  *James D. Irwin reflects on his limited romantic past. *Slade Ham ruminates on a German woman infiltrating a polar bear enclosure. *Reno J. Romero […]

  2. […] D. IRWIN began writing for these pages just before Valentine’s Day, 2009, at the tender age of fifteen nineteen, making him our younger statesman — TNB’s version of […]

  3. […] JAMES D. IRWIN, so young, is already cynical about Valentine’s Day. […]

  4. Lana Fox says:

    How well said. I prefer “Go Fuck Yourself Day” which, according to a small but meaningful handful of us, is on Feb 13th. There. Now that’s what I call romance.

    Thanks for a great read.

    • James D. Irwin says:

      This year I’m hosting an anti-Valentines Day comedy night at the student union.

      Thanks for reading.

      This has just made me realize that tomorrow is my TNB-aversary. As well as Go Fuck Yourself Day. So I think I’ll have small celebration, and then go fuck myself…

  5. Lana Fox says:

    Excellent idea. Much to celebrate. I am so glad so many of us will be fucking ourselves proudly on the 13th, myself included. And what a great day on which to have your TNB-aversary! Enjoy it.

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