You know how in every Hallmark Christmas movie, there is a doe-eyed, beautiful, conflicted heroine with a storied romantic past? I am not that heroine. I am her quirky, meddling best friend — the slightly underdeveloped character who is forgotten by the writer mid-script and is then, at best, cast the leftovers from the love triangle the heroine leaves behind. But do not weep for me, America. I chose the sidekick life. Because I am so ~quirky~ and ~adorable~ and decidedly nonthreatening, I can get away with pretty much anything. I low-key wear slippers to work, I meddle in everyone's business, and I eat the last cookie the the break room without remorse. It's a good life, y'all.
But last Sunday, as my roommate and I watched our [number redacted so I can pretend that I got something done that weekend] Hallmark Christmas movie in a row, she had a stroke of genius: What would it be like to live as a Hallmark Christmas movie heroine? What started out as a joke quickly spiraled into Outofcontrolsville, which is the very state of mind I am writing this from right now. I went all-in, y'all. For the past week, I lived my life as a Hallmark Christmas movie heroine, with all the bows and strings attached. My mission was simple: To find my One True Love and restore someone's faith in Christmas with my effervescent naïveté by the end of the week, all while living the #HallmarkHeroineLife.
I was aware that the odds were stacked against me. There were some things I just plain couldn't do. For instance, I don't live in a quaint small town, my hair is resistant to bouncing curls, and I sure as sh*t don't have enough time in the workday to have lengthy non-work-related conversations about the state of my love life against my co-workers' wills. So I did my best with what I had, and thus began the ~magical~ journey of this most recent week of my life.
Task: Make a public and grand declaration about giving up on love.
I mean, I did. I looked up from my computer and said into the open air in the middle of the workday, "I am giving up on love!" ... Nobody looked up. It's almost as if our bosses didn't hire people to exclusively cater to my dating woes? I'll have a talk with HR.
Task: Be aggressively adorable at a Christmas-themed place / Wait for my true love to find me.
I forced my friend to take my picture in front of these trees. I frolicked near an ice skating rink. I stood in line at a bakery for three whole minutes, gazing longingly out into the crowd of Christmas shoppers. Come find me, tall, handsome stranger who just played someone else's true love in the Christmas movie that aired just before this one, I cast out to the wind. And yet ... nothing.
Task: Wear something super-duper Christmas-themed, and let the world react to my ooey-gooey holiday charm.
(The fact that I made this face for a selfie is a true testament to how impossible it is to fully knock off Christmas Movie Sidekick Syndrome.)
... Well. I was wearing the reindeer earrings my mom sent, as well as a kitschy little Christmas sweater that my Work Wife gave me when it ended up being too big on her. Then disaster struck. We were all gathered for the office Secret Santa swap when my friend turned to me and said, "Did you know that the reindeer on your sweater are f*cking?"
What should have been a day for turning the heads of eligible one true loves with my adorable Christmas charm swiftly turned into the discovery of BETRAYAL BY MY WORK WIFE, who ALSO neglected to notice that yes, in fact, the little knit reindeer on my sweater were engaged in some SERIOUS HOLIDAY ROMPING. I'd gone to the bank in this sweater. I'd talked to my friend's three-year-old child. THIS IS VERY UN-HALLMARK HEROINE INDEED. And so was this:
Task: Marinate in my shame.
This was supposed to be the day I identified my quirky sidekick and talked to them for a half hour straight about exclusively my problems so that I could seem more three-dimensional as a human being, but I think we can all agree that I needed this full 24 hours to recover from the humping reindeer blow. I came home from work that night, dutifully marathoned two more Hallmark Christmas movies to repent, and went to bed hopeful that I would at least have a one-percent success rate with this experiment by the end of my week.
Task: Walk around the city and attempt a last-ditch meet cute with my one true love.
Well, I did get 20,000 steps on my fitness tracker, and I even walked some of it without my headphones on (shudder) to look more approachable, so you can't say I didn't try. In the end, I bought two baguettes and one Extremely Fancy-Looking Dessert from Ladurée, which one could argue was a huge success. Instead of walking home with one true love, I walked home with three.
Task: Restore someone's faith in Christmas with my effervescent naïveté.
I was coming down to the wire on this one. And to be honest, I'm not sure if it even really counts. If this were a Hallmark movie, I would have met the true love of my life on Tuesday and restored their faith in Christmas by now. As it was, my BFF was slightly down about Christmas for eight seconds, and pretty much got over it before I managed to text back with an arguably insensitive Hamilton reference. But I'm calling it, dammit. I am a Hallmark Christmas movie heroine, and my magic is real.
Task: Go on a journey back to my small town, where I will reconnect with my roots, discover that my career ambition is really a thin veil to protect myself from an inevitable lifetime of loneliness and cats, and ponder the ghosts of my past.
LOOK HOW AGGRESSIVELY SUBURBAN THIS IS. On Sunday, I traveled down from New York to my parents' home in Northern Virginia, and within 24 hours of working from home, I was dying like a fish out of water. There was no chorus of intermittent horn honking from the busy street below. There were no co-workers to complain to when I stubbed my favorite toe. There was nothing but small-town cheer and grocery store traffic and dear sweet Jesus almighty God there is no Seamless here.
Also, another fatal flaw in the plan: I love my job. The only reason I leave work at the end of the day is because if I lived there, the office would run out of cheese, and it would be entirely my fault. Thank god the "Oh no, I've secretly hated my job all this time and my true ambition is LOVE with this handsome lug I just met!" trope only happens in movies, or the world would be completely out of bakery owners / prominent magazine editors (the two jobs Hallmark heroines are allowed to have).
Task: Have a meddling, aggressively intimate discussion about my love life with my parents, who have magical prophetic super powers in the realm of ~love~.
Me: So I'm doing this experiment where I'm trying to live my life as a Hallmark Christmas heroine for a week.
Mom: Haha. It's too bad you don't have the kind of parents who get annoyingly over-involved in your love life.
Me: ... Yeah.
Damn my parents for being so intuitive and normal.
I ... failed. Spectacularly, in fact. But if anything, I am more confident in my life choices now than ever.
Because listen — I'm a Slytherpuff. The fact that I just called myself a Slytherpuff pretty much excommunicates me from heroine-ism straight back into quirky sidekick land. But it is also indicative of a much larger point: I am hella ambitious, and even when I was trying my best to quell that by becoming a Hallmark Christmas Heroine, I wrecked it by being so busy with the job I love that I forgot about the experiment most of the time. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That, and I was pretty much doomed from the start. I'm not really all that interested in finding my one true love, particularly on a Christmas deadline, when I've got so much better stuff going on. Actually, the idea of someone busting in right now and compromising all that better stuff happening in my life makes me straight-up resent them, and they don't even exist yet. So perhaps I am not the Hallmark movie Christmas heroine. Perhaps I am not even her goofy sidekick. Perhaps I am Nameless Co-Worker #3, who gets one line and is uncredited on IMDb. But you know what? Nameless Co-Worker #3 is doing pretty damn well for herself, thank you very much, and she will have that with cheese.
... That being said, if anybody needs me for the 48 hours leading up to Christmas, I will be watching the Hallmark channel like the beautiful human cliché that I am.
Images: Emma Lord