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sidenote #3: the greats
today is fake, but i love you. 10/10, highly recommended.
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i actually intended to write a bunch of anti-valentine fiction but the week got away from me. so have these (kind of funny???) fragments instead.
One year ago, on this day, we danced on a rooftop overlooking Kuala Lumpur, and my friend who was also the DJ was playing that absolute bop, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” (close your eyes, and imagine me bopping to it as I write you this). It was exactly one week after Chap Goh Mei, or the Chinese version of this day. I was with my friends Al and Nine and Juan (who I ache with missing). I was also with my friends Deb and Erin and Shah and this American guy whose name I think was Chris who I met in a bar a month before—we got drunk together as we bemusedly watched our friends flirt and (eventually) make out—and at some point there was a drag queen show. We danced madly. Sweat soaked through the tiny crop top and mini skirt I wore.
I’m still wondering whether maybe-Chris managed to remain in the city. American as he was (I think), Chris was one of the greats.
I left after midnight but then I’d head over to another party in Damansara Heights where another friend was hosting a party. That one was different because I was definitely the youngest person in attendance, but also someone tried to pole dance with a drainage pipe (don’t recommend this), a bunch of people were trying to play beer pong (everyone was drunk, so I also don’t recommend this). At some point, someone got really high, touched a ghost pepper then his eye (so I really don’t recommend this), and I ran around looking for eyedrops for him, and then a gigantic door fell off its hinges.
Around 3am someone kissed me in the dark, where no one (or everyone) could see. Highly recommended.
That guy wasn’t one of the greats (strongly not recommended), but Al and Nine and Erin and Shah and Chris (Chris!) and Bel and Naz and Jung and a bunch of the other people wearing Hawaiian shirts, collars opened to the navel—they were all the greats.
Which is all to say that if you have to endure this goddamn fake-as-fuck “holiday”, I recommend you get yourself a rooftop, a view, some beers, some ride-or-dies, someone’s fancy house, a creaky door three times your height, a drainage pipe, and the tiniest crop top you can find.
And your greats. Get your greats and have a dance party amid the heat and the dark.
It’s hilarious to me that we venerate a holiday named after a saint.
As far as I am aware, up until maybe 50 years ago, most canonised saints tended to have died very violent, very painful deaths.
St. Valentine, for instance, was either a Roman temple priest (coughpagancough) or a bishop who lived around 270AD, who was beheaded (painful!) by Claudius II for marrying Christian couples. Even more hilarious? There are apparently so many other Valentines on the Roman roster of saints and martyrs—the most recent, Berrio-Ochoa, was beheaded in 1861 after a little jaunt to Vietnam—that it’s unclear precisely who the day is named for. The thing they had in common is that they all died painfully, ostensibly for their faith, but to me anyway their deaths seem uniformly related to the arbitrary reasoning usually associated with authoritarian states and callous, power-hungry humanity (which actually tells you a lot about how we celebrate this day today!). I don’t know what it says about the Romans, the Emperor, marriage or modern society that we choose to associate martyrs with romantic love, but none of it feels good (so I do not recommend).
Here are other things St. Valentine is associated with: epilepsy, plague, fainting, travelling—all things I do not recommend!
St Valentine is also the patron saint of bee-kepers, who I recommend. Imagine a holiday where all we did was celebrate (and make out with) bee-keepers, truly some of the greats. Highly recommended.
I’ve never had a good (or great) Valentine’s Day.
My ex-boyfriend was one of those “I don’t believe in giving gifts or spending money to show my love” type of situations, also both of us were pretty broke, so the day alwyas kind of came and went. I don’t remember celebrating it at all over the seven years we were together, so that should tell you everything you need to know about our relationship.
He was also not one of the greats, but we had a great time together while it lasted.
Long-term relationships: 60/40.
Instagram tells me in 2016, it was also Pancake Day—I made thin crepe-like rolls filled with lemon juice and sugar. Highly recommended. In 2019, my friend Meeghan (another American! highly recommend Americans!) took me for a fancy dinner at Chocha, and I fell in love with a whole new group of greats: Joshua, Jess, Alex, Sajid.
This year, I’m going to spend part of my day with one of my old greats, and then some of my newer-but-somewhat-old greats.
Right now, I miss dance parties with people. I miss meeting the people I know from Twitter and thinking how nice it is that these vibrant flames on social media could be so quiet, so gentle irl. I miss my Americans (Chris, where are you!). I miss Juan, his humour and awesome music taste. I miss warm beer on that rooftop. I miss debating whether or not to go to that second party or home. I miss those guys in their open-from-throat-to-navel Hawaiian shirts. I miss the smoke of a BBQ or cigarette clinging to my hair, knowing I’d had to wash it out before bed. I miss making sure my drunk friends are hydrated, and being drunk myself. I miss being kissed in the dark. I miss everything, and I hate that everyone misses the same things because it feels terrible that none of us are having a good or great time, and what I miss more (or less? unclear) than everything is the feeling of longing to be out because I can see other people having a good and/or great time, and I want to be there, because if other people are partying and I am longing for it, it means there is space for me to be there too. There is a rooftop to dance on. There is a party to go to. I could go out there and be with them having a good and/or great time too.
With all the greats. Highly recommend.
Until next time, beloveds (you’re one of the greats).
Yours, from the void,
thank you for making it this far.
if you are in need of a dance party in your own room, may i recommend this banger by channel tres, the obvious solution to the no1 creepalooza justin timberlake. next week, another letter to al. like and subscribe, friends.