I dislike Valentine’s Day. I won’t say “hate” because my mom taught me that “hate” is a very strong word reserved for murderous dictators and steamed zucchini. It is a common rant during the first half of February. Considering the numbers of bitter people who complain about the day, I am a little flummoxed as to why it continues to be such a commercial success. I’m going to blame idealistic young women and the men who want to get them in bed.
I like love as much as anybody. I like romance. I like adoration. I like Hot Swede smiling in the candlelight. I like chocolate (dark, at least 70% cacao.) I am not jaded when it comes to love. But since my youth, I’ve found V.D. tiresome. (The double entendre tickles my personal fancy. Indulge me in the spirit of the holiday.)
For one thing, there is all the expectation, the joy killing expectation. A big part of romance is spontaneity. Doing something lovely for someone because you are motivated by your affection for them, not because it is Feb. 14 and, well, if you don’t come up with something wonderful, she will be disappointed and sulky and your life will be unpleasant for awhile. That isn’t romance. That is a pain avoidance mechanism.
Then there are the traditional gifts. For women, collections of cheap chocolate in expensive boxes are de rigueur. What is the point of giving a woman who is barely hanging on to her 6-week old weight loss resolutions a pound of chocolates? It is not nice. The worst part about the actual confections are the mystery fillings. The cheaper the chocolate, the more mysterious the filling, oozy viscous creams are common, and while the white is suggestive, the pink is off putting. Is that penicillin? My other favorite filling is toothpaste. Delish.
The worst possible V.D. gift is the teddy bear. This one makes me cringe. As far back as middle school, I remember girls getting teddy bears from boys and thinking, “If a boy ever gives me a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day, it’s going to be hard to act pleased with it.” Lucky for me, I never had to face that scenario. (Not bitter, I promise.) A couple things are wrong with a teddy bear, but the first one is that it is a gift for A CHILD, and a young one at that. Grown women with jobs and children, advanced degrees and mortgages, women who have yearly visits to the gynecologist and wax their own moustaches, these are not women with any use for a teddy bear.
The other problem is what you do with it on Feb 15. You can’t chuck it out or give it to the puppy because it was given in the name of love. So what, it sits on a bookshelf next to Brothers Karamazov? You can’t put it in the glass cabinet, next to your collection of hand-turned bowls. It will most likely just sit on your dresser and gather dust.
For men, (hmm, what do men get.) If they’ve manage to successfully run the obstacle course for a successful V.D., they likely get something non-commercial (I hope) and right in line with what they like. If they picked the wrong restaurant, or didn’t remember that their partner hates red roses, good luck guys. Maybe there’s something good on Hulu.
So what are reasonable adults to do on Feb. 14? If you have éros, well, enjoy that without the burden of Valentine’s drama. If you have agápe or philia, plan a date for some time in the next couple weeks. Have a nice dinner; write a letter, give a hug. Celebrate with trappings that honor the loves in your life, not the seasonal section at Target. Me, I like a bar of dark chocolate, peach colored roses, and nothing is as sexy as a scoured kitchen sink.