Despite his uncanny resemblance, my boyfriend was convinced he actually looked like George Michael, circa Wham!
Given the respective record of both of these guys, I think Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like would have been wise to agree with me.
However, I digress. Back to Valentine’s Day 1988. The reason it was supposed to be so incredibly amazing was that--aside from the fact that I actually had a boyfriend (score!)--his father was a floral wholesaler (double score!). There was no way I wasn’t going to ring in the holiday without the most jaw-dropping bouquet of flowers, right? Right?
Ever hear the expression, the shoemaker wears no shoes?
This is what I got on Valentines Day. A big fat vase full of nothing. Not even a card or a cheap drug-store box of chocolates. But I did get a promise that eventually I’d get some roses. You see, his dad was working on it but roses were scarce during Valentines, plus they cost an arm-and-a leg and, blahbity blah blah blah...well, he’d make it up to me.
My parents weren’t impressed. “If he cared about you, he’d have gotten you something, anything to prove it,” they told me. But I was in love and unfazed by their fuddy-duddy logic. What did they know? Pshaw, they were only parents.
The following week came and went. Nothing.
My mother crossed her arms and pursed her lips. “This boy isn’t worth it. He’s treating you like dirt and you’re letting him.”
“Mother.” I sighed, exasperated by her relentless judgment. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Couldn’t she see how amazing he was? He looked like Wil Wheaton for god’s sakes! Besides, I knew she was just jaded by the fact that despite being six months older than me, Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like didn’t have a driver’s license so I was the one who constantly drove the ten miles to see him at his house.
“Uh huh.” She answered and spun on her heels, leaving me alone in my room with an empty vase.
Finally, two weeks after Valentines he came through with not one, but two dozen long stem red roses. Unfortunately, they were individually packaged in newsprint, fresh from the wholesale floor.
“Look, mom. Aren’t they gorgeous?” I beamed as I unwrapped the newspaper bundles then snipped off the ends and arranged them in my vase.
“Sure, but they would have looked better two weeks ago. And why didn’t he put them together himself? How much effort would that have taken? Why didn’t he add a little baby’s breath or fern leaves or something? Not to mention a little fancy tissue paper and cellophane. He didn’t give you two dozen roses, he gave you two packages so you could do all the work yourself. When are you going to learn you deserve better than that?”
I bit my tongue, furious with her astute and cutting analysis and realized…I couldn’t totally disagree with her. She kind of had a point. But I was seventeen and proud, pig-headed and desperate not to break up with my boyfriend. So I vowed never, ever to concede she was right. But that didn’t mean I didn’t secretly agree with her.
So what did I do about it? Did I give back those roses, preferably with the buds hacked off and/or plucked of their luscious petals? Did I tell him that if he couldn’t deliver when it mattered, he might has well have avoided the effort all together? Did I make a stand and break up with him for expecting me to wait in line behind his father’s customers?
Nope. I kept them, gushed over them, told my friends how beautiful they were, even let them dry and preserved them in my room for the rest of the year.
I was a doormat. I kept driving him around, jumping whenever he called, spending my hard earned waitressing dollars on him and never expecting fair reciprocity in return.
I didn’t fight for myself, even when he threw those damn roses in my face. One night, after I apparently hadn’t shown enough appreciation for my tardy Valentine’s Day present, Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like quipped, “You know, my dad went to a lot of trouble to get you those.”
Now, I distinctly remember thinking, Really? ‘Cause your dad’s a wholesaler, so I’d have thought those were pretty easy to come by, especially since Valentine’s Day is over. But those words remained in my head and never crossed my lips. I was too afraid to say, “Guess what, jerk-off, those roses suck and so do you. Now get out of my car.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to say things like that for a long, long time. Not until I was a full-fledged adult with a whole lot more experience under my belt. But I still count this as a Lesson I Learned from Teen Love. I should have demanded better treatment, to be a priority, and in the immortal words of Madonna:
“Don't go for second best baby
Put your love to the test
You know, you know, you've got to
Make him express how he feels
And maybe then you'll know your love is real.”
So, whatever happened to Wil Wheaton-Look-a-Like? He and I dated for the rest of that school year and summer, and had a long friendship afterwards. He even came to my wedding. Now he’s married and has two gorgeous daughters. His father’s no longer a floral wholesaler, so I’m guessing he gets his flowers the old fashioned way.
You can learn more about Lea Nolan at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Her debut novel, CONJURE, is the first book in The Hoodoo Apprentice series. It will be released in mass market paperback by Entangled Publishing in October 2012 and is available for pre-order at Amazon.
So what say you, gentle readers? Did you ever play the doormat in a relationship? How’d you learn to stand up and brush yourself off?