How Manti Te’o ruined my Valentine’s Day plans
It might surprise you, dear reader, to learn that despite the amorous alliteration and magnetic mastery of metaphors displayed in my writing, I’m not quite the enchanting, irresistible Adonis you’re imagining. In high school, I dreaded Valentine’s Day and its accompanying tortures: the pervasive smell of overactive teenage hormones, flirty gift exchanges (the G-rated, box-of-chocolates-esque presents were at least tolerable, but heaven help us unlucky few who accidentally stumbled upon the R-rated festivities in the side stairwells) and constant frustration that, no, Elton John, I cannot feel the love tonight.
The worst part was the school-sponsored rose sale. My friends were all beneficiaries of three, four, a dozen romantic roses; heck, even the kid who drooled behind me in history class received two red tokens of affection. But I, author of aphrodisiacs and spinner of seductive similes, went flowerless. Not even a dead brown one dropped my way.
I was Gretchen Wieners amidst a throng of Glen Cocos. Not fetch, ladies.
College would be different, I vowed. In a new environment, surrounded by a plethora of eligible bachelorettes, I could finally have a Valentine’s Day squeeze of my own. Only problem was, it takes two to tango, and nobody had yet auditioned to be my dance partner. What’s a guy to do?
Some with less mettle might have despaired, but not I. Full of determination and chutzpah (and a whole dollop of desperation, to be honest), I plotted to settle for the next best thing: create the appearance of romance so that at least to outsiders, I wouldn’t appear the pathetic loner who has to sit out during couples’ skate at the ice rink.
Luckily, “Avenue Q” has taught me that the internet isn’t only for porn; it’s also for “meeting” girlfriends who live in Canada (I imagine the overlap between the populations that use the web for those two purposes is rather substantial).
The benefits of such a “relationship” were seemingly endless. Not only would I gain the intended advantage of being able to wear a red shirt to a stoplight party and call myself “already taken” on Feb. 14, but since my gal pal wouldn’t be real, I could fabricate stories about her to fit any situation.
Turn in an article past deadline, for instance? Sorry, but my girlfriend had an excruciatingly painful hangnail, and I was up all night comforting her over the phone. I’m not proud to admit that I rehearsed crying on-demand in preparation for such a scenario, but, well, I would have been a little proud if my editors not only had bought the excuse but also had been incredibly impressed that I mustered the will to churn out a story even though my beloved was suffering.
My plan was foolproof. But it turns out that Manti Te’o was quite the fool.
As I scrolled through the Deadspin story that first broke the news that Te’o’s tragically deceased girlfriend had more in common with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and (spoiler alert!) Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” than she did with every flesh-and-blood creature on the planet, my heart caught in my throat. Not because I felt bad for Te’o or wanted to scream “hoax”—not yet, at least.
Rather, I realized that my carefully developed plan could never come to fruition, for now nobody would possibly believe that my internet girlfriend was real. If the best player on one of the best football teams in the country couldn’t even afford a real online girlfriend he had never met and who was unable to do so much as Skype, what chance did a mere newspaper writer like I have?
My plan in shambles, I was forced to admit that on this year’s Singles Awareness Day, I’ll be as single, and as aware of that depressing reality, as ever. Buying chocolates for myself—from my online girlfriend, of course—was no longer an option, and once again I will spend Feb. 14 sans rose, sans girl, sans love, sans everything.
Does Te’o’s dating fiasco justify his ranking as the second-most-disliked athlete in the country in this year’s annual Forbes poll? No. But he certainly deserves the blame for spoiling my Valentine’s Day aspirations.
Te’o could’ve had just about any girl at the University of Notre Dame. There are almost 4,000 of them; he couldn’t find a single one who wanted to date the star football player? This is America we’re talking about. I assume he saw Katharine Webb in the stands during the BCS championship; he sure wasn’t paying much attention to the University of Alabama’s running game.
Yet instead he opted to go the online route, rendering me dateless and dejected and my article sapped of the romantic element required to make it the romantic comedy I had intended. Now I’m just a laughingstock—albeit not as much as Te’o.
Oh, and to all my female readers: I promise that, if you offer to become my Valentine and then grow a hangnail, I’ll talk to you for eight hours a night if that’s what it takes to alleviate the pain. Call me ;)