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Cheap Dates: Eat Your Heart Out

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I hate Valentine’s Day. Sure, I’m a hopeless romantic who usually spends every February 14th alone doing Jell-O shots in my chaise while eating bacon-fried bacon and masturbating to re-runs of Breaking Bad, but I retain the comfort of knowing Internet Girlfriend will never leave nor punch me in the face.

The real reason I hate Valentine’s Day is because Hallmark always reminds me that I better get my girlfriend a card so that it’s cool if the date ends up being bowling/a hockey game/watching tv/making her cleanup dog poo. I used to use manipulative psychological tactics to convince people to buy crap they never needed work in advertising, and I would buy 50 Hallmark cards if it meant I got to sit in on those client meetings:

“Okay – obviously men are going to spend twice as much on the date as women, so we have to trojan horse our marketing to them by convincing them Valentine’s Day is actually about sports and dogs.”
“What about demographics?”
“Give me some ethnically ambiguous people – maybe she’s Asian, maybe she’s Spanish. Who knows? Just make sure there’s one couple in there that’s unmistakably white. And we wanna hook these kids when they’re young – like we did with cigarettes – so let’s have some questionably legal teens.”
“What about elderly couples, Mr. Crapusher?”
“No, no. They already know their relationship is in shambles. Besides, we’ve got them covered with our fly-fishing/sailing/STUBBLE TESTOSTERONE I’M A MAN GODDAMMIT boner pill commercials.”
“And our female demographic?”
“Eh, let’s have one of the broads be knocked up.”

Modern advertising is almost exclusively about appealing to the emotions of the consumer, not the product itself, and in that sense this commercial is actually pretty perfect. How could you POSSIBLY advertise Hallmark with any sincerity beyond saying “We wrote stuff down that you weren’t cleaver or thoughtful enough to think of on your own.”

The only good thing about Valentine’s Day is it makes sure assholes do something nice for their partner one day of their relationship. “I know I’m neglectful and detached and never do anything thoughtful or considerate for you, but I want today to be special. Here’s a rose and a box of chocolates shaped like heart disease.”

In fact, why not just spend $100 on a creepy stuffed bear to be her stand-in boyfriend? After all, it’s “thoughtful, romantic, and thinking only of her” – all the things you could never be! Give her chocolates and deal with questions (and the reality) about whether or not she’s getting fat? NO WAY, BRO! *HI-FIVE* *BEER CAN HEAD SMASH* *FART*  And like children, women will never miss you during those late nights at the office when you’re banging your secretary, as long as they have a stuffed animal to keep them distracted! So get her the gift that will just take up room on your couch in six weeks after you guys breakup!

Better yet, since you know you’re breaking up anyway, why not just get her something she’ll give right back to you?

There are two occasions in my life where I’ve had a girlfriend during Valentine’s Day. The first was my senior year of high school. It was a serious relationship – one probably too intense for someone who was 17. But I loved my girlfriend to death, and I wanted to make her feel special at every moment possible. There were days filled with flowers for no particular reason, breakfasts from the local Stack’s waiting on her desk when she came into class, and weekends spent sneaking off in my truck where I’d give her driving lessons, in lieue of her father allowing her to receive formal ones. Everything we did together seemed to carry the kind of magical significance that only a teenager could ascribe. So it seemed a perfectly natural move when we decided that Valentine’s Day would be little more for us than just another day; we wanted to eschew the perfunctory give-gifting and instead let our relationship itself be what was special. Except that when the actual day arrived, I walked into class to find heart-shaped candy (although it could’ve been heart-shaped

sidewalk chalk), a card, and a collage of all the notes I had ever written her all waiting on my desk. This wasn’t what we had discussed. I had no plan of what to give her, because I the plan was to give her nothing. When lunch approached and we finally saw each other, I thanked her and told her that I loved her. But even through our embrace I could feel an anxiousness, a sense of wait, then hope, and ultimately disappointment.

Later that night I received a phone call. It was her mom. I took that phone call alone in my truck, and for the next 25 minutes had a 30-something year old woman yelling at me about common decency, while a 17 year-old me was debating back about how gender dynamics were being used to leverage a consumerist mentality into our relationship. Suddenly, it seemed as though nothing I had ever done for this woman’s daughter – none of the cards, none of the roses, chocolates, help with homework and otherwise, mattered. Because on the one day Hallmark obligated me to show her how I loved her in a material sense, I continued to love her as I always had – with my heart.

I mentioned that there was a second Valentine’s Day wherein I had a girlfriend. And on that Valentine’s Day, we decided that staying home and making dinner together would be far more fulfilling than waiting in even the most expensive of lines in the city. And that brings us to this week’s Cheap Date!

Trader Joe’s: Pepperoni Pizza w/ wine, salad, dessert
Price: Under $30
Yields: A Whole Lotta Love

Now originally, I planned to actually go to Trader Joe’s and research the actual costs of all this, but turns out Food Stamps don’t cover bus fare. But I’m pretty confident you can get all this for under $30.

16 oz. bag of Trader Joe’s Fresh Garlic Pizza Dough (or opt for their whole wheat or regular option) – $1.29
Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce
Cheese (pre-shredded, whole, the world’s your oyster!)
Trader Joe’s Pepperoni (or substitute for another topping of your choice)
Trader Joe’s pre-made Spinach and Greens salad (includes dressing)
Ice Cream (by my preference, mochi style)
Charles Shaw wine – $2.49

(Author’s note: 11:52pm 3/12/2013. Returned home from Tuesday night comedy show. As of yet, have not been punched in the face by OKC date. Good job, Eric. But you have had 4 drinks on a relatively empty stomach. You got this. Now let’s finish this article so we can make it to lats call [that’s when you do your last set of lat pulls in the gym for the… snnnnghhhh AH! ARTICLE!) 

If my drunken math serves me right, you should be able to get all of this for less than 30 CHALLAHS!!! (There is a part of me that wants to say I puked while writing one of these articles.) But seriously, making dinner with you boo is the best! It’s super hard to f*ckup pre-made pizza dough – just pound it evenly and cook at like 375-425 degrees or something. And the best part is you get to make your own shapes, put on your own toppings, and truly express how you feel about tu amore. You could even make a heart-shaped crust from the dough, and then it’s like the pizza sauce is your blood, and the pepperoni is the pepperoni clogging your arteries, and you’re dead.

Now that your pizza bun is in the oven, it’s time for some salad tossin’ loving. So rip ‘er open, and undress your partner while you dress that salad. If you’re prix-fixing to get all up in them greens, this appetizer is sure to satisfy your little hors d’oeuvre. Now pop the top of that Two Buck Chuck, look into their eyes and jump to it quick – point to your pants, and say “Hey, let’s watch Brick!” – one of three awesome movies you can find for FREE on Hulu!

Before you start the movie, why not light up a fire? Oh you don’t have a functional fireplace? That’s okay, you can always throw some Axe on the stove for that winter-warming heat.

After you’ve gorged on your meal and finally figured out the plot of Brick after rewinding and discussing together for 20 minutes, why not add an extra sensual touch? Sensual touch is actually one of the main devices used in couples therapy when partners report growing distant from each other. Plan out an hour, 30 minutes a piece, where each of you will give the other a massage. Turn on some Pandora (I recommend the Air station for some awesome sensual grooving tunes.) For those 30 minute durations, nothing will be expected of the recipient. The first time I ever escorted, I actually learned something really valuable from my client (apart from make sure to get paid upfront): when you’re giving a massage, always leave one point of contact on the recipient. That’s means that if you’re moving from quad to calf, never disengage contact – or if you must, take your other hand and make contact in place of the moving hand. Sounds simple, but trust me, makes a world of difference.

Who knows, maybe after all the eating, the movie-watching, the sensual massage and the actual engagement with your partner, you guys might have sexy time. But holy crap, guess what? Even if you don’t – you got an effing cheap-ass meal, a great free movie, a massage, and time spent with someone who is pretty neat – and they think the same of you. And it’s way better than either of you getting stuck with one of these.
FREE Porn Pick of the Week (NSFW): “Zoey Kush” on XVideo (seriously the dude’s dick in this video is huge)
FREE Full Disclosure (my sex podcast)Episode 27 – Connor Pritchard from Workaholics

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, and if you wanna check out my standup, come to my show with headliner Chris Fairbanks from Comedy Central on 2/26. Tickets available here!

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Eric Barry - Starving Fartist

Eric Barry - Starving Fartist

Eric Barry is a writer and comedy nerd, currently living in Brooklyn by way of San Francisco.

When he's not writing or podcasting, he can be found drinking beer, rubbing pesto on whatever will allow it, or doing improv/sketch/standup.