My first-ever Valentine’s Day present was a mixed CD of songs I didn’t like and a short story re-envisioning me as a fairy princess victimized by her family and rescued by a halfling. As far as Valentine’s presents go, while certainly creative, it wasn’t very flattering. After all, I’m usually more into dwarves anyway, and I’ve always been the kind of girl who can rescue herself.
The next gentleman to shower me with gifts on Valentine’s day bought me handheld mixer (as a college student without an oven, let alone a kitchen) one year and a laundry basket the next. There was no third year of disappointment for that man; I was already off and away to greener, less domestic pastures.
Rarely do I accept gifts graciously. I was raised to meet presents with “Oh no, you shouldn’t have, it’s too lovely, it’s too much!” The culture of gift-giving often says more about the giver than it does the receiver. The first man wanted me to conform to his tastes in music, to play the role he wrote for me in his fantasies. The second man wished for me to conform to his concepts of gender roles, to take up the place that his own mother had previously filled in his life. Both men obviously knew me to an extent– I do love music, and I do love baking– but neither honestly knew the real, genuine me.
So imagine my surprise when this year, my boyfriend bought me acid for Valentine’s Day.
While the rest of the world was doing fine dining and roses, moonlit carriage rides or screenings of the 50 Shades of Grey Movie, I was wearing a trippy butterfly-print halter dress and sipping cider in the back yard of the local drug kingpin. A band that looked and sounded like they were straight out of 1969 played rock music beneath an arbor of hanging grapes and Christmas lights while joints were passed around and slender girls adorned in garlands of flowers– and little else– swayed to the beats. Affluent Boyfriend approached me with a smirk on his face and a sugar cube in his hand.
“Eat this,” he said. “You’ll like it.” He fed it to me straight from his hand, petting my hair all the while like I was a beloved pet.
And about thirty minutes later, things started to really get wild.
Your Love is My Drug
It’s all chemicals, really.
That feeling that you get when you experience “love at first sight” is a reaction of three things: phenylethylamine, norepinephrine and dopamine. Phenylethylamine (PEA)– which is famously known for being found in chocolate– is what kicks it all off, causing the dopamine and norepinephrine to kick in. Dopamine is closely tied with the pleasure centers of the brain– it’s the chemical that makes us feel good. When you read a good book, eat something particularly delicious, or in this case, gaze upon that luscious man candy of your dreams, it’s dopamine that makes you feel all warm and gooey inside, like the center of a molten chocolate lava cake. As for the sweaty palms and racing heart, you have norepinephrine to blame for that.
Add in another two chemicals: seratonin, another feel-good chemical which floods your brain when you feel special or important, and oxytocin, which creates feelings of intimacy and trust and is released with both orgasm and skin-to-skin contact, and your brain is buzzing with all the chemicals necessary to create true love and a long-lasting, healthy relationship!
Your LSD is Also My Drug
Scientists seem to be a little more up in the air about what exactly acid does to the brain. Lysergic acid diethylamide was first synthesized in a lab in 1938 from the same fungal compound that may have been responsible for the Salem witch trials. Its effects include pupil dilation and a loss of appetite– symptoms which are all too familiar for those of us who have fallen in love before. But moreso than its physical effects, acid is known for its mental effects: euphoria, color intensity, a skewed sense of time and sometimes even mild hallucinations. Some scientists believe the effects of LSD can be linked to seratonin– that same drug that makes you feel special and connected to your significant other.
In a bad setting with a negative state of mind, the recreational use of LSD can be psychologically traumatizing. But when surrounded by loving, caring people while feeling good about yourself and your environment, many report spiritual experiences and an increased feeling of connectedness overall.
In my case, this meant dancing like no one was watching, kissing the boyfriend passionately, feeling overall intoxicated and pleased as peaches about it, and simply having one of the best evenings of my life. It isn’t every day that I choose to say “fuck legalities” and run wild with my pseudo-rockstar writer lifestyle, but when I do, I make sure to make the most of it. Sometimes I didn’t know whether I was falling deeper in love or falling off the face of the earth itself– but there’s nothing like a nice Valentine’s Day romp to Beatles’ classics in the midst of twinkling lights, sparklers and stars.
So how did this year’s present stack up against the gifts of boyfriends past? Quite well, actually. Where other men have tried to give me gifts based on who they wanted me to be, this year I was treated to something completely unheard of. This year, no one was trying to change me, to mold me into something that I wasn’t or shape me into someone for personal gain. No, this year I wasn’t just given a gift– I was given an experience. He just wanted me to have a good time.
(The chocolates and roses the day after didn’t hurt either, of course).
What’s the worst Valentine’s Day you’ve ever been given? What about the best? Have any other great V-Day stories? Share them with me in the comments– I’d love to hear from you!