It is Valentine’s Day, and I do something I’ve never done for a guy before. I cook dinner.
That morning I’d gone to a wedding in a friend’s living room, but I’d picked out my silky blouse and skirt less for that important occasion and more with the tactophobe in mind. Maybe if I looked nice enough and cooked well enough on Valentine’s Day, he’d kiss me.
I fixed lasagna. I’d made it once before with friends, but this was the first time for me to make anything like that on my own. It came out of the oven looking perfect.
The tactophobe arrives with red roses and chocolate. Perhaps he means them or they are obligatory. I am happy to see them nonetheless. We drink wine and I say little about A’s wedding. I don’t want him to think I’ve got wedding ideas of my own.
He says he’s impressed with my cooking and eats two large helpings. I am happy even though I’ve never cared about impressing a man with my cooking.
We watch television. Only romances are on. We sit on the sofa. He leans against the armrest and I sit leaning back against him, my back to his chest, his arms around my waist, and sometimes he rests his chin on my head. I have one hand on his knee. We sit this way through the entire movie and whatever else it is that comes on after. After midnight he says he should be going.
I walk him to the door and he says he will call me later in the afternoon. I nod. I can’t focus on what he is saying because I’m too busy wondering if I’m standing too close or too far, if I look approachable or desperate, if I look the least bit attractive and why he brought me roses.
“Goodnight,” he says, and walks away.
When you write a story or make art, how much should you depend on the opinion of someone else? If you believe the acceptance, must you believe the rejection. I’m often puzzled by authors who will accept an award as if it were about time the world recognized their greatness, but if anyone criticizes them, they dismiss that person as ignorant or clueless.
I prefer compliments and criticism that is specific. Vague responses leave me wondering and questioning every move I make.
Is there any specific criticism that has stuck with you over the years? Any particular words that zip about in your head as you try to create? Anything you have to smother to keep working?