February 10, 2015
Why I hate Valentine’s Day
By JOY CRIST
I hate Valentine's Day.
I’m a newlywed who’s in the intoxicating throes of exciting young love.
(OK, it’s actually the throes of laid-back, middle-aged love, but
In fact, Valentine’s Day has always been one of my least
favorite holidays, where I would traditionally watch as all of my
excited colleagues got flowers delivered to their desks, while I
jealously looked on in my intentionally all-black work outfit. After
work, I’d drink beer while fishing or bowling with other single friends
-- which is literally the most un-Valentine's thing you can do -- or
head home and watch a documentary, horror movie, or "Deadliest Catch"
Once I was finally attached, I still wasn’t that big a
Valentine’s Day fan, because there’s this unspoken and universal
assumption that, as a woman, you’re supposed to make yourself look sexy
-- or at least presentable -- and go cook something awesome for your
loved one. I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely horrible at both
of these things.
I married well because Mr. Smith is
completely fine with my preferred and time-tested way to spend this
romantic holiday – which is, of course, bowling and/or fishing.
the more I think about it, the more I wonder if my distaste of the
holiday is somewhat misplaced, especially on Hatteras Island where the
environmental conditions for ogling, flirting, and even love are
arguably at their best.
Whether you’re single, attached, or
even an old married crazy lady like myself, Hatteras Island really does
have a suite of benefits for a coastal romantic.
So as we
approach this polarizing holiday, take a moment to appreciate the
following great things about Hatteras Island that add a little amour to
every resident’s life, regardless of relationship status.
never paid attention to these fantastic island attributes at the time,
but if I had, perhaps I would have had a better Valentine’s Day than
chugging brews in an old, black rock-band T-shirt. (Not that I didn’t
have a great time doing this. Ever.)
And let’s start with a bang, with one of the best aspects of the local Outer Banks scenery, which is…
have to preface this by sharing my very favorite joke, which was told
to me by a local lady who married the surfer love of her life:
“What do you call a Carolina surfer without a girlfriend?”
But all kidding aside, our incredible local surfers are dedicated, athletic, and appealingly driven.
And, by George, do they look freaking fantastic on the water!
a reason why the top fashion designers in the world prefer a model with
a “surfer build,” and we lucky island ladies get a free show every time
we go to the beach.
Granted, it’s wintertime, so unfortunately
most of the guys are going to be covered up in wetsuits -- what a
horrible invention for us shameless oglers. But bear in mind that
Valentine’s Day is just three months from Memorial Day, which is
typically when the wetsuits come off, and the six-packs come out.
married ladies like me, a pair of sunglasses will surely protect you
from your obvious and potentially creepy ogling, allowing you to look
fully engrossed in your novel while you’re subtly, but unnoticeably,
checking out the goods.
Unless you do something completely stupid like admit in print that you do this. My apologies, Mr. Smith.
meanwhile, single ladies can get in on the action by striking up a
conversation, perhaps by asking a random surfer if he’s seen a brand
new Natural Art surfboard, which she won in a local surfing tournament
but which was suddenly lost somehow right near where he was surfing.
(Not that I’ve ever used this technique before in my single days, of
In any case, Hatteras Island has one of the highest
concentrations of surfers, kiteboarders, windsurfers, and fishermen on
the Eastern Seaboard. This fact alone should make formerly bitter
ladies like myself step back, take a big old breath of fresh salt air,
and just enjoy the shoreline scenery.
GOOD TIMES AND FREE DRINKS
in my day -- and the use of this phrase alone is yet another indication
of my old age -- Thursday nights were considered by some of my more
eloquent gentlemen friends as the “Meat Market” nights.
locally as “Little Friday,” Thursday night is when you headed out to
the bar to meet and greet with other singles, and see if there was a
Chuck Woolery-approved Love Connection just waiting for you in the
after-hours Hatteras Island scene.
It was kind of a blast to
go out with girlfriends, chat up locals and visitors, and typically
head back home with those same girlfriends while swapping stories about
some of the cuter bar patrons. (See the aforementioned “Surfers”
But, honestly, even if a love connection was not meant
to be on that Thursday night’s episode, you usually left with a free
beer or four, and a great story from a new acquaintance.
of my best nights, and some of my best friendships for that matter,
happened while scouring the Hatteras Island singles scene. One of my
good buddies -- the first time I met him, no less -- told me about the
time that he hit a low-clearance bridge and thus ended his day-long
career as a professional firefighter, while another invited me
over to check out his awesome collection of signed Steve Martin
memorabilia, which he “borrowed” from some of his ex-bandmates.
Needless to say, I am still really good friends with both of these guys.
make fantastic friends when you’re going out and mingling with the
3,000 or so other Hatteras residents who are cool enough to appreciate
living on an island as much as you do.
And, honestly, sometimes you get lucky.
met Mr. Smith at a local bar on a Thursday night. He was solo and doing
one of those video game puzzles that are stationed at some of the Avon
Being a snoop and a know-it-all, I brazenly reached over
and completed a very intellectual word scramble he was working on --
the answer was NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace -- and we were living
together three months later.
The point is that it’s fine to go
out on the town in Hatteras Island with the expectation that you will
meet someone interesting, exciting, and who will be in your life for a
And if you strike up enough conversations, romantic or otherwise, you definitely will.
RIDICULOUSLY ROMANTIC BACKDROPS THAT ARE ALSO CHEAP
Once you fall in love on Hatteras Island, you’re lucky.
it’s not just because you get to ride off into a Pamlico Sound sunset
with your beloved. It’s because you have a Pamlico sunset as a backdrop
to begin with.
I can’t imagine how people in other locales, like
Iowa or Nebraska -- or really anyplace that’s not sandwiched in between
two massive bodies of saltwater -- find inspiring locales to set the
stage for a budding romance.
And if you’re in a new
relationship, or a growing relationship, or a decades-long relationship
where it literally doesn’t matter if the bathroom door is open or not,
Hatteras Island is the place to be.
Because on Hatteras Island,
all you have to do to find a beachfront locale, pop a squat, and watch
a quiet and completely beautiful ocean sunrise or sound sunset.
if you wrap your arm around the person you love in the process, or pop
open a bottle of wine, then you’ve created the perfect setting for love
– and all without spending more than $6.
Case in point is in the
early days of my relationship with Mr. Smith. He took me to a beautiful
soundfront lot in the evening that was barricaded off by a wood piling
and a rope fence.
There was a small cluster of people behind
the fence admiring the view, but Mr. Smith went past the crowd, hopped
over the fence, and walked briskly to the bulk-headed edge of the water.
We sat there and watched the sun set for 10 minutes, as I mentally practiced ways to ask him to move in with me.
was much later that I finally asked him if he owned the lot, or at
least a part of it, which would explain why he was able to access the
In response, he said “No, but I figured out that if you
walk with confidence and purpose, you can do whatever you need to, even
if it’s just impressing someone you want to impress with an awesome
I think the statute of limitations for trespassing has
expired by now, which is why I can share this story. But that’s when I
figured out that I didn’t just want to live with this dude, I wanted to
Regardless, the thing is that when it comes to
romance on Hatteras Island, you have everything you could possibly
require, from the casual beachside eye candy to the perfect soundfront
setting for a romantic encounter.
Really, there’s a reason why
Nicholas Sparks’ attention is always focused on coastal North Carolina,
and it’s because we have a population of fantastic and genuinely
interesting people, a laid-back lifestyle, and a gorgeous setting that
ties it all together.
And who knows? Maybe the overall romance
and appeal of the island will make even the most reluctant Valentine’s
Day observers like myself become converts and embrace a holiday that’s
all about absolute beauty, appreciation, and love.
it sounds lovely, but I’m sticking with Plan A this year, and am going
bowling with my hubby in my black Ramones T-shirt.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Hatteras islanders!
Crist and Mr. Smith are spending this Valentine's Day at their spread
in the western North Carolina mountains, though they plan to be back to
Pamlico Sound sunsets one day very soon.)