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The most romantic thing I’ve ever written

“What did you get up to last weekend?”

“Just… you know… hanging out with the boy.”

“Doing what?”

“Counting pennies.”

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.

Counting pennies

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.

22 Comments

  • Karen says:

    I love this post – you are right, I hadn’t thought about it before, but love is decorating a room together whilst listening to radio 4

  • Helen says:

    I realised that I loved my now husband when we built a shed together. He measured twice and cut once, and it was smooth, and team-like. No rows, just giggles and jokes about screws. Bliss :)

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah, wow – I am incredibly jealous of shed construction: DIY projects are one of my favourite penny-counting activities =)

  • When thinking of a Valentine quote, I really thought the opposite of romantic, sweep me off my feet, kind of love. As you stated, it won’t happen every day for the rest of our life. I love the penny analogy, and the shed referenced above.

  • Hyacinth Jones says:

    It’s true. Love is counting pennies and wiping snot from your love’s face when they have to put down their beloved dog or holding their hand as they wait for test results.

    And £32! Shit!

  • Pandora says:

    Very well put. Other than sex, my favourite activities to do with D include: writing code, DIY, working out. Even housework becomes tolerable and vaguely satisfying when we’re doing them together. It’s not just that this stuff is so boring that you MUST love each other if you can cope with it – it’s that it’s good to share a project, and fun and fulfilling to feel like an effective team.

    £35! Not bad. What’s he going to spend it on? (I think change jars should be for purchasing unexpected treats personally, rather than paying into the bank – they don’t really come to enough for the latter to be worthwhile.)

    • Serocco says:

      Wait, D… I’ve read a Cosmo blog that had the girl and her boy as S and D… could you be the same person? o.0

  • Snausage says:

    MONKEY ISLAND! I love you even more now!

  • Dave says:

    Spot on post. And now you’ve made me feel all mushy.

  • Imogen says:

    Totally. Love this. Counting pennies is one of those things I just love doing with the hubs. 6 music on in the background, just chilling together and counting the fuck out of those pennies, as you say.

    Though I have to say, DIY and flat-pack are just not in the list of things we can do together. We only have to look at a box of unassembled desk pieces and within half an hour we’re screaming “I WANT A DIVORCE”.

    Seriously though, I love this post. Nicely done, GOTN. You are my most favourite blogger at the moment.

  • rny says:

    Excellent post. It all sounds great. Maybe I’ll do something like it one day!

  • What a perfectly timed point to make. This is the sort of thing I think about, too, when I think of real love. And I’d say you hit the nail on the head with the idea that you know it is real love when you can share the mundane or even embarrassing and still want to be with each other anyway. Mr. LL and I joke that we couldn’t be with anyone else because it’d be too hard to train someone else and no one else would put up with our bullshit. So, we do the taxes, cook dinner, have sex, and count change…like you.

    Great post.

  • Ash says:

    One of the random things I love doing with the girl of the moment is stringing my guitars with her. It was one of the first things we did when she came to my place for the first time (I let her play one of them, she broke a string) and since then…

  • Nic and Lace says:

    I love this post, thanks GotN :)

    One of my aunts says she knew her now-husband was the man for her when she had to pull down her pants and wee in front of him in a field, and it didn’t make her feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. Apparently real love is sharing the small things, including peeing in a bush.

  • Jussie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. You are totally right, love is so much more than what we take for granted that love is. Hope that makes sense.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you =) I have a friend who says that ‘love is a doing word’, and I think that makes sense – it’s something you do every day rather than something you just fall into. This weekend the boy and I will be painting our flat, and I am genuinely very excited about it!

  • girl says:

    Yes! I recently had a wonderful afternoon with a new boy in my life dredging the pond and scraping the flaking paint off the garden wall. If you still love someone when they are in wellies, in a pond, covered in bottom-of-water-mush, you know it’s real.

  • Serocco says:

    Sometimes, love is best expressed through something simple.

  • Desire on wheels says:

    Beautifully put. I love those moments too. One of the things we do is that I’ll put on a radio play or audiobook to listen to while I’m doing stretches before bed, and he’ll lie in bed half-listening and pootling about on his phone. It’s so companionable.

  • The Quiet One says:

    I wish I had someone to count pennies with

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