Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: February 2010
In my twenty-four years I’ve had some pretty memorable dating experiences. Not all of them good, but certainly all of them could be learned from. What does it mean when your new love interest has an alternate personality his friends refer to as “Holden”? Get out fast, and change your phone number. What about if he brings an eighteen-year old girl to the house you live in together while you’re at work on a Saturday night? Probably not a good sign either. On the other side of the spectrum, men who will read comics with you, cook you dinner, or take care of you when you’re sick are total keepers. It’s all about the little things.
I’ve often joked that it would be convenient if I could hand any potential suitors a questionnaire to fill out before proceeding any further than initial introductions. It would probably read something like this…
1. Do you see yourself having children? (If “yes”, then kindly show yourself the door).
2. Do you read for pleasure or simply necessity? (If you chose “simply necessity”, have a nice life).
3. How do you feel about robots? (Indifferent? Then I’m indifferent about you. Get out).
I’m (mostly) kidding of course, but when you find yourself on an absolutely horrific date, sometimes a lifetime of solitude can seem preferable to more negative relationship experiences. Since this is the week of Valentines Day, (or Singles Awareness Day, depending on your romantic status) I thought I’d recommend some titles that focus on the ups and downs of love.
Anything by Jeffrey Brown is always a good bet. His autobiographical tales of his mostly failed love life are genuine and endearing. The ratio of bitter to sweet is pretty even, if only because his work shows that nice guys really do exist. Also notable is the artwork, which has a certain relatable quality that the giant cup sizes and chiseled abs of some mainstream comic artwork just can’t access.
Blankets by Craig Thompson is graphic novel, originally released in 2003 and still one of the best examples of how teenage love can be sweet without inducing vomit. The story chronicles Thompson’s own first love, and what it was like for him growing up in a stifling religious environment. Thompson has remarked that this graphic novel was borne of the idea to accurately describe what it feels like to sleep next to someone for the first time. Forget all the accolades and popularity it’s gained over the past few years, when it comes down to it this is a sweet and simple tale of first love.
So, Synthesis readers, best of luck traversing Valentines Day this year. All you single folks remember, Valentines Day comes but once a year. Those twenty-four hours may be dedicated to couples, but the other 364 days of the year belong to us single folks.