Boycotting Valentine’s Day has never been a huge thing for me, because my family also never made a big deal about it. It’s hard to feel truly society-defying about being more or less indifferent to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. and actively hostile to the Melbourne Cup, when you could wind back time twenty seven years and get my mother to say essentially the same things about them for pretty similar reasons.
There’s also circumstance and privilege. Circumstance: as with my mother and her mother, in our turn my mother and I don’t live in the same city, so it was a long time before I even noticed that there’s a Sunday in May on which it is considered rude and presumptuous to try and make non-maternal plans. Privilege: I’ve been partnered with a man since I was eighteen years old. He doesn’t come with the extravagant romantic gestures add-on, but if I wanted to make plans for Valentine’s Day I have an obvious candidate and a set of scripts.
And so it was that as far as I can recall, Andrew and I went out to dinner for Valentine’s Day for the first time ever and I don’t have to explain my change of heart. As you’d expect, the timing was semi-coincidence; it was as much that it was the Saturday closest to his birthday today as it was Valentine’s Day, but I was at least curious about the level of enforced Valentining that would go on. (Andrew and I once completely accidentally made a lunch booking for the day of the Melbourne Cup, and discovered very considerable mandatory Cupping.) To my surprise, the answer was none at all. We went to Lolli Redini in Orange, a treat my parents originally planned for us in Christmas 2013, and they didn’t have a set menu, any kind of flowers or heart-shaped things, or, in fact, the restaurant made up only to seat couples. There was a group having dinner for eight in the centre. This is probably what one wants in the actual night but not for writing about it afterwards; no stories. The cheese soufflé is very good though!
Andrew and I pondered what to discuss. Unlike the parent cliche, we don’t tend to discuss the children much when we’re having date-like activities but I warned that we were at risk of falling into our current conversational sinkhole, which is talking about our career trajectories. Andrew correctly steered the ship to what he said was our other mainstay: fandoms. And so we had a very satisfying dinner talking about Sherlock/Firefly crossovers and thinking about all the fandoms we’ve created/inhabited together.
Diablo Our original fandom, off to a promising start when I spent an evening at Wesley College with new friends, including Andrew, and didn’t get to play Diablo multiplayer because of capacity and/or skill. A year later, we lost a decent chunk of 2000 to Diablo II, and it was one of the fandoms we managed to infect our friends with. Hours of waiting impatiently at the edge of town while Andrew and Daniel compared the stats on different weapons before we could set forth. We went back and dived in again a few times since. We played III late last year, having moved on somewhat in our gaming preferences (I now tank, Andrew went for a magic user rather than a ranged attack). It didn’t eat our lives quite as much, but only because of the kids.
JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This was a fairly inevitable consequence of him having met me as a teenager. There would be Tolkien. Funnily enough though, I didn’t think of this one, Andrew did. Probably because we’ve read the books more in parallel than together; they’re not something we’ve spent a lot of time digging into together.
Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn chronicles I’ve been reading them since I was perhaps 15. Andrew and I ship Rushton/Elspeth and are hoping Carmody cuts Ruston a break some book or other and can find it within herself to finish the series.
Firefly For the reasons most people like it, I would think, except that to us it only having fourteen episodes is a considerable bonus rather than a source of pain. Who wants the commitment of multiple seasons? Not us.
The Dandy Warhols Andrew introduces me to almost all the music I encounter (barring 90s women-in-rock), this is just the one that’s stuck the best. Particularly You Were the Last High, which plays right into my love for songs that are all about messed up relationships almost entirely unlike anything I’ve been involved in. (See also Placebo’s Special K and Radiohead’s Talk Show Host.) A Dandies concert was the first night out we had after V was born.
The novels of Ursula Le Guin Circuitously, I think, via a recommendation from the Twisted folks.
Sherlock Was always likely to be Mary and Andrew catnip, because is comparatively low time commitment when measured in evenings, it has banter, a really consistent aesthetic, a fascinating villain and is profoundly frustrating. If we can discuss it and its flaws for an entire course at dinner, then we’re pretty much done for.
We also found a whole set of things that are “only because of this marriage”, that is, we’d drop them if it wasn’t for that. For me: Doctor Who, cricket, the Civilization games, the vast bulk of our music collection. For him: The Sims games, pretty much any podcast. You have to make some compromises, after all.