Pink Hearts, Red Roses and Jailed Lovers

By Lori Welch Brown

Pink Hearts, Red Roses and Jailed Lovers

Seems like just yesterday I was pulling out my pine cones and dusting off my angel to put atop my tree, and now I am staring down an aisle of dark chocolate and lace. Hooray, hooray—it’s Valentine’s Day! My favorite holiday of all time! Lucky for us that CVS and a few other retailers start reminding us before we’ve even had a chance to toss my Christmas turkey carcass that the big day is approaching. As much as I love the red crush, I secretly wish they would commercialize Martin Luther King Day so at least we would have a little buffer between the two.

Shamefully speaking, I do love the bombardment of pink hearts, red roses and teddy bears with their arms outstretched begging to ‘Be Mine.’ It reminds me of all my glorious years of living single and free. Years I was unattached, and delightfully solving the mystery of whose flowers would be showing up at my desk. Maybe they were from Robert, the young stock broker with the boat. Or maybe they were from Todd, the litigator with the cabin in the mountains. Dating was such fun! Saturdays spent shopping for the perfect date outfit, followed by a trip to the salon for a fresh manicure and pedicure. “OPI’s Italian Love Affair pink on my toes, please!” Driving home with my toe spacers to keep my pedicure from smearing, carefully racing up my stairs to primp for the big night. An opportunity to spend an evening with someone new, alluring and mysterious. Would there be chemistry? Would there be romance? Night after night of fun, anticipation and the possibility of desire. A life of fancy dinners on the town, picnics in the park, hot air balloon rides, wine country tours, etc. It’s a wonder I had time for a job! And, lest I forget about all the Roberts and Todds—all those smart, handsome, financially and emotionally stable men at my fingertips. Poor darlings—all wanting deep, meaningful relationships and me never ready. Single life was like one big red heart, pink teddy bear ‘Be Mine’ champagne-laden party.

At least that’s the story I tell myself now, but in reality, dating is about as fun as a root canal. Okay—maybe it’s fun if you’re new to this planet and interested in how Earthlings socialize outside of Facebook and Instagram—that is, if in fact, they do. Or maybe it is fun if you’re in your 80s and it beats another night at home organizing your pills. For me, dating was like interviewing for a job that I never seemed qualified for. “Sorry, Ms. Welch, your skills are exemplary and your references impeccable, but unfortunately, your choice of ‘date casual’ attire is not what we’re looking for right now. We’ll be in touch.” Or maybe, “Lori—thanks so much for coming out tonight. It looks like you have a romantic gap from 1989 to 1996—can you explain that?” Dating was harder for me than any job interview. I probably blew it before I even walked out the door. If I decided on jean/tee shirt casual, he was looking for cleavage and stilettos. If I walked out the door feeling flirty and sexy, I was probably more like a cross between Florence Henderson and Amy Schumer. I vividly remember getting dressed in my early 20s for party down, dance nights in Georgetown—I would channel my best ‘slutty/sexy’ outfit, and show up looking like the parent chaperone. Sad, but true. I compensated by being the ‘funny’ girl which immediately put me in the friend zone. I was a guy magnet—for all my friends. You’re welcome. Maybe I should clarify—I was probably more of a lost cause magnet than a guy magnet. My pheromone emitted a ‘if you have baggage, I’m your girl’ scent. Funny how my dates couldn’t overlook the fact that I hadn’t been in a relationship in three years, but I could overlook a mild cocaine addiction or recent incarceration. Apparently, my conservative style and sarcastic wit would have served me well in a career as a prison warden or interventionist.

So—dating wasn’t my forte, but at least I was able to share my experiences with my readers during the decade I wrote the Single Space column here at the Crier. I joke, but I did have some really great experiences—I met a lot of really nice, interesting people—some of who may still be incarcerated, but I wish them all well. My last dating interview ended with my now husband, XXL (whom, for the record, was never incarcerated) who said, “I see what they missed. I get it.” He hired me on the spot. I thank me Lucky Charms every day for me pink hearts, orange stars, yellow moons and green clovers, and of course, XXL.

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