My feelings about Valentine’s Day are deeply ambivalent. There’s the whole “it’s just a holiday manufactured by the greeting card companies, man,” thing, which, yes, obviously, though I think lazy lifestyle journalists needing to fill column inches during the boring months of late January/early February shoulder at least a large hunk of the blame at this point. (Me included? Of course me included. I’m as lazy as the best of them.)
But so my ambivalence for the holiday stems less from its manufacturedness or heavy marketing (if that disqualified a holiday from celebration I’d be left with what? Solstice?) but from the dorkiness of the whole thing.
In elementary school, you have to buy those stupid cards with like Rainbow Brite or Garfield on them, enough to give one to everyone in class, and spend time throwing out all of the ones that say “love” so that no one gets the wrong idea, and pick out one for the teacher that isn’t too suck-uppy, and the time and stress involved isn’t nearly worth the pile of nearly-identical cards and crappy conversation hearts you take home at the end of the day.
Then in middle school you’ve got the whole drama of the girls with boyfriends getting roses and balloons and everyone else feeling bad about themselves and “omg is he going to get me something, I don’t know maybe I have a secret admirer eek!”
When you’re a teenager and still all worked up about losing your virginity, flowers and chocolates and jewelry and frilly panties make sense. It’s part of the pageantry of working up to going all the way, like prom dresses and class rings and make-out parties and second base. But after going to college and sleeping with some random dudes from the other dorm and taking Into to Feminist and Marxist Theory, well, that stuff feels kind of stupid. And the older I get, the more celebrating Valentine’s Day feels like wearing a lot of Hello Kitty or being too into myspace. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it just seems a little creepy.
At the same time, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with doing something nice for someone you love, right? Especially something relatively non-consumerist, like making a nice dinner together and then doing it? And yet I just can’t seem to get excited about doing anything for Valentine’s Day this year.
It does fall at a bad time: everyone’s still pretty broke from the holidays, the weather sucks extra balls, and there’s a real holiday that involves getting a day off of work in less than a week. A casual but nice dinner is out, because even the crappy restaurants want to capitalize on suckers who care deeply about proving their love (or possibly are just trying to get into somebody’s pants) and so have prix fix menus and require reservations. Cooking something beyond the ordinary involves lots of non-romantic dishwashing, plus the fancy grocery stores are going to be choked with desperate people trying to buy last-minute oysters and steaks.
I don’t want to be one of those people who is all like, “I’m too principled to be manipulated into celebrating this holiday, blah blah blah,” because c’mon, nobody likes a self-righteous jerk. And it seems sort of sad to be too lazy to bother doing anything. To me that conjures up the image of two fatsos on the couch in Cheeto-stained sweatpants, too bored and sluggish to change the channel or have sex. But all of the stuff that those Suggestions for Your Special Friend on Valentine’s Day articles suggest—massages, fuzzy handcuffs, his and hers spa days—are so embarrassing. So I’m not sure what I’m doing this Valentine’s Day.
Whenever the subject comes up, Frank and I pretty much just shrug. Meh.
“We should do something, I suppose,” I’ll say.
“Like what? I’ll do whatever you want,” Frank’ll say.
“I don’t really care,” I’ll say, and that will be the end of the discussion.
To think about it too much is to give the stupid thing too much credence, to ignore it is to be sad and lazy. Stupid Valentine’s Day. You’ve shamed me into a corner. I guess the only solution is a Romeo and Juliet-esque double suicide. Either that or champagne and watching Anchorman. I’ll let you know what I decide.