Unfortunately this year I haven't found anyone mad enough to want to go out with me, so I thought that I'd share the story of my weirdest Valentine's Day ever with you.
To set the scene - the year was 2009, I was nineteen, and had just moved to Shanghai, by myself, which was quite scary. I had recently fallen victim to a mad hairdresser and her designs to give me a (very unsuccessful) pixie crop, so I had mad hair. I'd also just broken up with my boyfriend of two and a half years. Suffice to say, I was in a bit of a weird place.
|I also looked a little odd.|
When you move to an entirely new city, know no one and can't speak the language, you tend to really quickly bond with anyone who you can communicate with. This happened to me with one of the first people I met out there (which took a while as my first week in Shanghai was spent crying alone in my room and wondering if I should just hop on a plane and go home). He was an 26 year old American. Let's call him Rufus, as that was emphatically not his name.
Rufus and I met on the 4th of February. He lived in my building, so we started going out to eat together, and exploring the city. So far, so normal. In hindsight, however, there were warning signs. He talked about guns. He talked about guns a lot. Not having had much previous acquaintance with Americans, however, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and wrote it off as having something to do with the Fifth Amendment.
A few days before Valentine's, there was a particularly awkward supper which, to my mind, marked the end of my friendship with Rufus. I like to call it Racistgate. It was bad. Really bad. I'm pretty sure some of the food dropped out of my mouth due to my total shock as the most disgustingly bigoted, misogynistic and racist monologue I have ever had the misfortune to hear was delivered to me across a table in a noodle bar.
As soon as it became apparent that Rufus wasn't joking (which, frankly, would still have been totally unacceptable in my book), I dealt with it in the only way I knew how. I paid for my food, and in the most measured tones I could muster, told my super-patriot dining companion that due to some pretty fundamental differences in our belief systems, I didn't think we should be friends any more. It was pretty dignified, until I added that he was a disgusting human being and if he ever came near me again I would react with physical violence.
There the story should end. To be fair, I never again saw Rufus after that encounter. I started spending more time with the other English-speaking non-racists who lived in my building, and forgot about the whole thing.
Valentine's Day of 2009 was a very fun day for me. I spent the day with a lovely Londoner called Nick, rollerskating around Shanghai, taking in the sights and chowing down on all of the delicious street-food we could get our hands on.
At the end of the day, exhausted, stuffed full of dumplings and covered in bruises (navigating the Subway on skates is pretty challenging), we returned home. Being a gent, Nick insisted on walking me to my door, where we were met with one of the strangest, and most ominous sights I have ever encountered.
There was a single rose nailed into my door, a post-it bearing the legend "Happy Valentine's Day, Mona. Love from Rufus", and a hammer on the floor.
"Wow," said Nick. "That's only really one step short of leaving a dead cat outside your room."
It was really, really weird. I couldn't decide if nailing was (A) the only way he could get it to stick, or (B) a veiled threat. And did he forget to take his hammer away with him, or was it left deliberately on my doormat to send some kind of message?
"Who says romance is dead?" I asked.
"It looks a bit like he wants you dead, to be honest."
I'm one of those 'give everyone the benefit of the doubt' kind of girls to be honest. To this day, I still like to think that it was just a simple romantic gesture that Nick and my dumpling-fuzzied minds misconstrued.
Either way though, I packed my bags and moved out of the building the very next day. Just to be safe, you know.
Do you have any Valentine's Day stories for me? If so, leave me a link in the comments section!