I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was nineteen. The date-less quality of my youth was not a result of protective parents. Rather, I suspect it had something to do with my queerness and with the fact that I was a prodigiously awkward teenager.
But, though I’d been thrilled to finally find someone to call my own, when that first relationship ended after a few months, I was not anxious to get into another one. What’s more I resented the way that everyone seemed to think that being paired up was so important.
In fact, I remember an especially irritating exchange with one of my professors at university. He was talking about his different brushes, and he singled one out as his best, so I asked him why that one was his favorite. I thought it was a perfectly natural question and one that, in the context of the classroom, deserved a useful answer. But he didn’t think so.
He responded: “have you ever been in love with a boy?” When I said that I hadn’t, he told me that meant I couldn’t possibly understand his feelings for this particular tool. Irked, I replied that, while I’d never been in love, I knew very well how to love, and that, furthermore, his answer was as uninformative as it was pretentious. (Or, no, I didn’t say that last part. I only wish I had.)
Our focus on soul-mating and spousing—and on doing these things only between girls and boys—is pathological.
I mean to say that it gets in the way of honoring all the other kinds of love we’re so good at. I, for one, see everything right in celebrating Valentine’s Day the way we did when we were six and had to give everyone in the class a sparkly doily heart, a symbol of a better world. The one I’ve made for you even has macaroni elbows on it.