It seems everyone is writing a Valentine’s Day post. I considered not doing one, because I am one of those grinchy Valentine’s Day nay-sayers that everyone rolls their eyes about. I would like to establish, however, that Valentine’s Day is an absolutely wretched holiday. It brings misery to almost everyone it touches.
Since childhood, I have never had a Valentine’s Day that made me happy. The best part of V-Day comes when you are a kid, and little enough to decorate the cool valentine box and have red and white cupcakes and skip around the classroom delivering your little messages. Since teachers insist that valentines be brought for the whole class, the poor little geek or stinky kids don’t get left out. Everyone gets some cards and a cupcake. And when you’re a kid, you don’t know yet how lonely you are.
As soon as middle school hits, the bottom falls out. Hormones start surging. Everybody wants someone. Most people don’t get anyone. Everyone feels pretty much lonely and unloved. Of course, there was the odd beautiful couple, somehow beautiful and fully formed even in the seventh grade, but how many of us really were a part of that couple? I think most people, given the chance, would go back in time and drop a nuclear weapon on their middle school. And at that age, the girls are swooning and wanting romance, but the boys are just thinking about sex. And not getting any. Hardly anyone, even in a young couple, does V-Day right. And by right, I mean meeting the expectations of the other party involved. Because mind reading is not common. And most of us communicate very poorly. And let us not forget the young GLBT. They may just be realizing that there is something about them that is palpably different, and it sure doesn’t include receiving flowers from the prom king or queen.
Nothing gets better with age. Most people feel lonely. Relationships in high school and college are rarely too stable. And it seems someone always has magical expectations, despite the rarity of being a member of a couple, that aren’t being met. The sweeping romantic dreams of one are met by, at best, fumbling attempts to just making it through the day before someone’s head gets bitten off.
Ahhh, and then adulthood. You have the alone and the lonely. Those in loveless marriages and relationships. Widows and widowers. Those whose lovers are far away, or in grave danger, away in the armed forces. Then you have the bitter and the cynics. And believe you, when I tell you from experience, that a cynic is best described as a failed romantic. Cynics believed once. They are angry because they were taken in, and reality never met their dreams. For example, an emotional terrorist that I dated in my twenties showed up at my door on V-Day with a smirk. He said, “I brought you flowers and candy!” He was clutching a single red and white peppermint from a restaurant and a dead pine branch. Even if you are in a lovely commited marriage, with a family, V-Day may be D-Day for you. My husband thinks cut flowers are a waste of money. One year, when we still passingly celebrated V-Day, he gave me several jars of mustard. He stated they were romantic because I was doing Atkin’s diet and I could eat them with my meat. We have since put an end to Valentine’s Day in my house. We just don’t acknowledge it.
And don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is a holiday completely contrived to sell candies and greeting cards. It didn’t even exist before a century or so ago. And the old adage, about making every day a Valentine’s Day, if you truly love someone, is spot on. You don’t just wait until one day to do nice things for each other.
And truly, most men hate Valentine’s Day. As soon as the red and white displays go up, they start dying inside. They’re going to have to buy something. They don’t know what. They will probably wait until the last minute, because they never know what to get. And they know their partner probably has hopes for something, but human nature being what it is, they are probably not communicating their needs, because part of “romance” is that your partner “just gets it.” And of course, most of the time, they don’t. The wrong jewelry is bought. Jewelry is not bought. Chocolate is bought when partner is dieting. And on, and on, and on.
Women are always getting disappointed. We have high hopes that our partner will “just get it”. We don’t communicate. And frankly, a good bit of Valentine’s for us is conspicuous consumption. After all, nothing proves that you’re loved more than a magnificent bouquet of flowers that the whole office gets to see. I remember I never felt so gratified as a couple of Valentine’s when I was dating an attorney (who was otherwise a complete psycho, but had the whole gift thing down pat) sent me enormous bouquets of flowers to my office. I had finally arrived. I was conspicuously loved. And when you think about that, it’s pretty damn shallow.
Then there’s Valentine’s for the GLBT community. Just like anywhere else, there are committed loving couples giving great gifts. And just like everyone else, for many V-Day is just being done wrong. And then there’s the added whammy. Many relationships cannot even be acknowledged, must less commemorated in flowers and candy. If you are closeted, how do you answer the question about who sent you the flowers? Saying “None of your damn business” over and over again is not any fun, any way you put it. And you probably can’t even keep a picture of your significant other on your desk, unless you work in a very progressive office. And you can’t bring your partner to those “fun” office picnics.
So as far as I’m concerned, Valentine’s Day is torture for most everyone. If you have a great Valentine’s Day, congratulations and I wish you the best. Just don’t forget, probably most everyone else is miserable.