One time, just one time, I dated a guy who knew how to do Valentine's Day right: as romantic and embarrassing and cheesy and overdone as your favorite rom-com. He enlisted one friend of ours who had aspirations of becoming a chef to make fettuccini Alfredo. He enlisted another friend who happened to be pretty good at guitar to serenade us. He wrapped a scarf around my eyes when I arrived and led me upstairs to his parents’ bedroom, where he’d set up a small card table and a couple of chairs on the fire escape outside the window.
It should be noted that his parents weren’t home. It should also be noted that this was 1998, and I was 15 years old. I was probably wearing flared jeans, hoop earrings, and a velvet shirt. At 15, I was as committed a romantic as any girl who read YM religiously, or saw Titanic in the theaters and cried. The coolest thing about me was that I had a poster of Kurt Cobain on my bedroom door. The least cool thing about me was that I had a back brace—an actual back brace, which made me feel as if I were a character written by Judy Blume.