9:12 a.m. - 2005-02-03
My disgust with this Hallmark excuse for a holiday began at a very tender age. I was 8. My father was in the habit of getting my brother and I some sort of gift. Well, I got some stupid box of candy, and my brother got a really cool toy. I was pissed off for weeks, crying, melodramatic, the whole nine yards. (I was like that a lot as a kid.) Even though my dad tried to make it up to me, I felt as though I had been slighted. Here he has to make a special trip to the toy store and actually pick something out for my brother, and he grabs my gift off the shelf at the grocery store.
I realize now, of course, that he was just being his usual gender-role traditional self, and assumed that since I was a girl, I would like heart-shaped boxes of chocolate rather than some fake guns and ammo. But the experience definitely soured me on the holiday.
I had somewhat gotten over this by the time I went to college and was dating GEB. The first Valentine's Day we were a couple, he was actually living in another state (with his parents, while he went to the local community college to bolster his ailing GPA and save money). However, he sent me flowers. Really pretty flowers. And I sent him a nice gift.
However, the SECOND Valentine's Day (things were already going downhill at this point) blew the goat ass. He shows up with flowers which were obviously picked out at the last minute, whereas I had gotten him a gift which required planning. Therefore, I was already a tad pissed off when we headed off to dinner.
I had taken some time and actually fixed my hair, put on makeup, and was wearing a nice outfit. (Remember, this was in college, when "dressed up" meant jeans without holes and a shirt that required ironing.) Even though he knew I was pissed about the last-minute flowers, his comment on my outfit was simply "why are YOU so dressed up?"
At that point, I wanted to strangle him, not go to dinner with him. But we went anyway. And the restaurant was insanely crowded, the service was bad, and in general, it was an unsatisfactory evening.
My epiphany came later, when I realized that the night would have been fine if I had quit being a dumb ass and buying into the hype. I realized that Valentine's Day is a stupid fucking holiday designed solely with the intent of making people feel bad.
Let me elaborate.
If you're single, you feel like a complete reject. The whole world is part of a nice romantic couple having candlelight dinners and gazing dreamily into one another's eyes. You don't have flowers on your desk, or candy to share, or a sappy-ass card with lots of hard-to-read calligraphy, silver foil, and tissue overlays. And when you decide, fine, I'll go tie one on with my other single friends, you can't get a seat at any restaurant with a bar because they're all booked with stupid couples.
When you are part of a couple, you suddenly expect your normal, average relationship to turn into something from a bodice-ripping romance novel for 24 hours. You want flowers and candy and sappy cards, a romantic dinner with candles and champagne, and tender, sensual lovemaking with plenty of exclamations about your hotness and the depth of his undying love. What you get is sub-standard service, last-minute gifts, and the same sex you've been having for the duration of your relationship. Sometimes you don't even get that, if you're pissed off enough about the earlier part of the evening.
News flash. Being single on V-day doesn't mean you are a loser who will never be loved. And being in a couple is no guarantee of the perfect day. Basically, whatever your situation on the Day of Artificial Romance, you're not going to be happy.
So join me in a Valentine's Day Boycott. If you're not in a relationship, vow to yourself that you will not feel bad or left out. If you are in one, refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on a "romantic" evening that will end up sucking. If your relationship has been lacking in romance, it's not going to magically become a fairy tale just because the calendar says February 14th.
If you're looking for romance, try the Harlequin section of the bookstore. It's a lot cheaper than dinner, drinks, and a dozen roses.