Valentine’s Day, like many public celebrations of love, may be a nice idea in theory but in actuality is a minefield of anxiety.
There is the questions it raises about relationship status. There is the pressure it creates to demonstrate affection and intention through commerce. There is the stress of seeing everyone else’s relationships splashed all over social media. There is the awkwardness of restaurants packed with couples on dates because it’s February 14 and that’s just what you are supposed to do.
But do you really want to do something just because you are supposed to? But do you really want to not do anything just so you can avoid a cliché?
It’s hard to figure out how to spend Valentine’s Day, but it’s much harder if you or your date is cynical, intellectually superior and given to anxiety.
Wait. Intellectually superior, vocally cynical and filled with anxiety about relationships and materialism? This sounds like some people we know. Well, actually, it sounds like a lot of people we know. But specifically, it sounds like a certain fictional character.
That’s right. Adelle Waldman’s Nathaniel P.–the type of quintessential Brooklyn literary guy that Ross Douthat thinks is responsible for fathers of daughters becoming conservative.
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. ends before the protagonist and the girl he ends up with spend a Valentine’s Day together. But in what is a cross between a DVD bonus feature and author-written fan fic, Ms. Waldman wrote one more scene for The Washington Post.
In case you were wondering, Nathaniel P. decided to get his girlfriend (spoiler alert: it’s Greer) an “ironic”gift at the last-minute, even though she claimed to hate the greeting card holiday. But what if she didn’t know it was supposed to be ironic and just thought it was lame?
Oh, the anxiety! Sound familiar?