“What did you get up to last weekend?”
“Just… you know… hanging out with the boy.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I properly love someone until I’ve persuaded them to join me in doing something incredibly tedious and menial: painting a room, regrouting the bathroom, filing a tax return, or – as in the example above – counting small change into tiny piles on the living room floor.
Contrary to the impression I give on the blog, my calendar doesn’t read like a porn schedule, and my evenings aren’t spent tied to the bed being pleasured by a string of eager gentlemen. I do boring things too: eat food, go to the pub, cut my toenails, idly wonder why it smells like something has died in my fridge. Until fairly recently, I’d made concerted efforts to keep boys away from these everyday things. Share my bed, by all means, but for God’s sake don’t share my actual life.
Depending on your viewpoint I’ll sound either cool and aloof or ridiculously emotionally immature – I lean towards the latter, to be honest, but I’m getting better. This is where the penny-counting comes in.
A few weeks ago I spent an evening with my favourite boy – we made an effort not to watch TV (because we’re both still recovering from a Breaking Bad addiction) and had already had sex three times, so were at a loss as to what to do. Pondering the scant options for entertainment (Mass Effect: completed. Monkey Island: completed. Soul Calibur: completed. Non-video-game games: absent) we alighted on his jar of small change.
Everyone has one – a pot of coins that you keep persuading yourself you’ll cash in but you never do, because you figure sorting it isn’t worth the meagre £15.26 you’ll get at the end. But lacking anything else to do that evening we thought it’d be worth tackling. We sat down, dumped the coins on the floor, and made a start.
Do you know what? It was bloody good fun. Not the actual activity, obviously, but doing something boring and routine with him that just seemed to be more fun because he was doing it with me – chatting, making jokes, fighting over the only visible five-pence piece that we both wanted so we could make a neat pound out of silver change. I’m telling you, guys, we counted the fuck out of those pennies.
Why are you telling us this ridiculous anecdote?
You could argue that the only thing more tedious than counting pennies is an internet stranger telling you about this one time they counted pennies, and you’d be right. But it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and this scenario says ‘love’ to me in a way that more traditional romantic gestures don’t.
Love isn’t roses and champagne and candlelit dinners. It’s not exotic holidays with days spent lounging on a beach then posing before a sunset. It’s not fireworks, plate-smashing, or screeched heartfelt declarations on the high street at 2 in the morning.
Love is everyday. Love is menial. Love is counting pennies.
I find this stuff more romantic because it’s more realistic. If I love someone I’m not going to spend the rest of my life being swept off my feet by them. Realistically, all I can guarantee is that we’ll spend some time together. In that time we’ll have fun and adventures, of course, but we’ll also be together for everything else: sweeping leaves from the garden, looking up train times to go and visit his parents, arranging standing orders for the gas bill, washing up, watching telly.
And that’s why love’s really bloody hard. Of course you love someone more if they buy you a diamond ring and make you feel like the most precious person in the world. But do you love them when they’re staring at a carpetful of coins and asking you to start a tally chart? Well, do you?
We made £35.40.