It started with a cheeseburger. The McDonalds on California and 15th was the Von Stuben and Mather high schools’ hang out. He was a rebellious and cunning baseball stud. She was a quiet and shy ballerina with slender features, big blue eyes and long brown hair. They were instantly attracted to each other. They dated throughout their last year of high school. They stayed together for 3 and a half years while they attended the University of Illinois, sharing study rooms, their love for a good book and a Tom Collins on a Saturday night. She fell in love and he, preoccupied with his studies, broke it off. He broke her heart.
Flash forward 13 years to a scene more perfect than a Match.com testimony. They bump into each other on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. He, a celebrated young lawyer at a local firm, had another girl stealthily attached to his arm. They exchanged pleasantries; she walked away. Two weeks later he asked her on a date. She screamed at him, he couldn’t wait until it was over. A year passed and he tried again – one last date with an old flame. They got married 3 months later. February 14th marks my parents’ 25th Valentine’s Day together.
Love stories don’t happen in real life. They belong in raunchy paperbacks and old Hollywood Doris Day films. My parents’ story is one of the very few exceptions to this steadfast rule. Most of my friends’ parents are divorced. And it goes without saying that nearly all of the 20 and 30-somethings I know are in non-committed relationships.
The fact of the matter is the dating world we manage to survive in is drastically different than the one our parents’ grew up in.
We are playing a dating game where anything and everything goes. At a time where Luv, Lov Ya, LUHHUUV you, and I Love You have subtle yet completely different connotations, and the all-deciding ‘relationship talk’ has been replaced by the much easier, not to mention less awkward, Facebook relationship status update (as if to say: Click once if single!), it follows that the rules have changed for Valentine’s Day as well.
Where there used to be “In a Relationship” and “Not in a Relationship,” a third category, a bit more capricious, exists – “Chicken-loving.” Of all places, I heard about this category from an Orthodox Jewish matchmaker in Jerusalem. Gila Manolson, author of the prophetic dating advice book, “The Magic Touch,” writes, “I love chicken. But when I say that, what am I really saying? I’m saying that I love the way chicken makes me feel when I eat it. I don’t love the chicken. If I loved the chicken, I wouldn’t eat it! I love the way I feel when I eat chicken. In other words, ‘I love chicken,’ means ‘I love myself.’ “
G-dub loves chicken. I have no doubt the vegetarians, vegans, extreme dieters and any meat-haters on campus will agree with me. We love that hot piece of chicken on the dance floor. We love that great cutlet buying everyone drinks on a bar tab. We love the way chicken makes us feel after a lousy night with a playful text, “Wanna chill?” And the way chicken always saves us a spot in the loquacious 6th floor study rooms in Gelman. Putting it simply? Chicken rocks.
As my friends sign themselves up for another all-girl sobfest with whatever Ryan Phillipe movie is melting hearts this week or a night of bro’n’ out catching up on last weekend’s Super Bowl highlight reel (again), I find that a little chicken lovin’ dominates this February. So whether you are catching a romantic dinner in Georgetown, or hitting up the singles scene at Thirds, enjoy the love this Valentine’s Day – even if it is a moment with a smokin’ hot piece of ‘chicken.’
This article appeared in the February 14, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.