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LET US SHARE TALES OF ROMANTIC DISASTER

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THE ONE THING VALENTINE'S LOVERS AND HATERS ALL HAVE IN COMMON

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, which you may find to be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your relationship, or a crass and meaningless cash grab by florists and Whitman's, or something in between. We have no interest in swaying you on that matter. What we do want to do is to share something that we can all relate to - tales of romantic gestures gone so, so, so wrong.

JANE COASTON: Perhaps it's best to begin with the fact that I am gay and it is 2015, which means that we have achieved a great deal of progress but not enough that I was able to come to terms with being gay at an age that would have allowed me a more normal developmental schedule.

So as being gay was not an option for me as a youth, and I did not understand how to make boys like me in the same way that a golden retriever does not understand smooth jazz, I came to the conclusion that the safest thing to do was to develop all encompassing crushes on specific media figures and then create entire fantasy worlds in my head in which we enjoyed very enjoyable relationships and we were very happy.

Keep in mind that all of these figures were men.

Keep in mind that I am completely insane.

Keep that in mind as I show you the subject of the first of these all encompassing crushes.

Please note the following:
1.) I had a crush on the October 1994 Ebony cover version of Michael Jackson.
2.) In October of 1994, I had just turned seven.
3.) I do not think I knew who Michael Jackson was to any real extent.
4.) Not to cast any aspersions upon the late Mr. Jackson, but in this particular picture, he does not, uh, look, uh, traditionally masculine.

Other objects of early affection: a random image of Elvis Presley in which he looked especially full-lipped (I imagined us going for walks around my house in a snowstorm), Jess from Gilmore Girls (okay, that one is totally defensible), and Legolas from the Lord of the Rings movies.

In short, I spent like, ten years of my life not having actual relationships with human beings because gay, and instead I developed incredibly complex inner-world crushes of tremendous scale on people who looked sort of like attractive women.

ACTION COOKBOOK: It's tough to mine my youthful romantic history for tales of woe, because [lifts up cardboard box] [inverts it] [shakes it, as to demonstrate the emptiness of said box], but actual results notwithstanding, I had a longstanding policy of meek, accommodating attempts at being generally pleasant.

There's a much longer story to accompany this particular incident, but for the purposes of this exercise, we can boil it down to the relevant essentials:

- in the course of the 2000 presidential election cycle, George W. Bush visited my high school.
- I was the one who invited him, and thus landed an interview with him for the high school paper, with Actual Press Passes to the Actual Press Event after the rally
- I had a characteristically nerdy crush on a friend who had, as I understood it, also obtained a press pass for her competing, independent school newspaper (my crushes, too, were nerds).

As the press event was set to begin, I noticed that she wasn't there. I stepped out briefly, lanyard on my neck, to see why she hadn't gotten in - at precisely the moment security closed for the event.

That's how my never-worked-once "I'll just be nice to her and she'll ask me out" high school strategy got 17-year-old me in an argument with the Secret Service.

RYAN NANNI: Here is a simple syllogism.

1. College students do stupid things they think are smart.
2. I was a college student.
3. Therefore, I have done stupid things I thought were smart.

Some of these stupid things were academic (hello, semester of pre-med courses), some were health related (goodbye, ten Irish Car Bombs I drank the night before I had to meet my dad and godfather for lunch). Some were romantic. To rank them in order of stupidity would be a painful and pointless exercise, so I can't say this was my stupidest college romantic moment. But it's up there.

I was never very good at finding the distinction between "this girl likes hanging out" and "this girl is interested in me" without help, usually in the form of a mutual friend letting me know what the fuck was up. Failing that, I was left to my own devices, which was the equivalent of giving a child a pineapple and telling him to make a piña colada. So when I drunkenly suggested to a maybe-interested-maybe-not girl that we go out to dinner somewhere nice in Gainesville, I was thrilled when she said yes. Then she asked if this other friend of ours could come along.

Great job, 20 year old me. You got to spend nearly two hundred bucks having an awkward dinner with two women at The Melting Pot. Hope you enjoyed the chocolate strawberries, you idiot.

SPENCER HALL: I needed a line to really impress this girl I wanted to make amends with and then date. That big line was: 'Hey. No, I've been good. Been spending a lot of time on...the internet.' I then gave her a book that did not belong to me as a gift.