Frank and I agreed then to buy each other something special and, you know, meaningful. A thing that the other person would really want to have. Which, it turns out, is an odd combination of more and less sappy than just grabbing an off-the-shelf plush from Snuggles Unlimited. More sappy because you have to put a lot of thought into delighting someone you love, and less sappy because you're not doing anything that would make my sister say "Awww." So when Frank gave me the nose ring he had picked out, and I gave him a signed comic book, it did feel like we were doing something nice for each other, and with very little associated saccharin.
It's possible to find a happy medium between sticky sweet and bitterly repressed. Here's an example involving people other than me: A few years back, my friends Josh and Karen announced that they had decided to get married. My initial reaction was to be highly skeptical about the whole thing. Not because of the commitment—they'd been living together for years and were really good for each other. No, I was bothered by the inherent lameness of having a wedding.
I had only ever been to big, puffy, expensive bridezilla-type ceremonies, with the lurid bridesmaids' dresses and the crazy parents-in-law and the single women brawling over the bouquet. Why, I wondered, would people I respected want to put themselves through that kind of misery? It had never occurred to me that at your wedding you can do whatever the hell you want.
Rather than a church and a minister, Josh and Karen had a kick-ass outdoor spot and an old friend officiating. In lieu of "Wedding March," Karen walked down the "aisle" to "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the MG's. Instead of the uptight, buttoned-up ceremony I had been expecting, they had thrown themselves a weekend-long party with all of their best friends and family, and it was wicked fun. Everyone seemed genuinely happy for them and happy to be there.
If weddings can be cool, anything can. It shouldn't be embarrassing to admit that you love somebody—fifth grade was a long time ago. Not even the grumpiest anti-romantic wants to go through life alone and miserable, a stinky, senile cat her only companion. At the same time, it takes a while to get comfortable with your smooshy side. You kind of have to grow into it—learn to love the love.
In that spirit, when I recently told my roommates and best friends that Frank and I had decided to move in together, I choked back all of the practical justifications for the move (saving money on rent, getting more living space, simplifying our scheduling, blah blah blah) and told them the painfully earnest truth: that we liked each other enough to want to share a house.
Naturally, I got ribbed for it, but good. I guess I deserved it after all the grief I’d given friends like Josh and Karen when they made moves to pair off. I stood by my moment of sappiness, though. And as I sit here in my shared apartment, with my shared cat and my sentimental nose jewelry and my decidedly un-rock'n'roll Netflix subscription, I’m struck by this thought: I may have ended up the kind of becoupled homebody I used to roll my eyes at, but unlike my ex-roommates, I am getting some on a regular basis. And what could be cooler than that?