"V-Day." Sounds more like an invasion of Normandy than a day spent celebrating love and romance. And rightfully so. Sometimes the intricacies of preparing for the holiday resemble war-room strategy more than jubilation. Sure, you're armed with flowers and chocolates instead of a rifle and grenades, but there is a common dread, with the tips of those big red hearts hanging like so many swords of Damocles.
Sound like the ramblings of a bitter soul? Sour grapes some? That's the classic reply to those haters of the holiday. But it's not only the lonely hearts that feel a certain misgiving about forced romance. Even those that have found someone can feel anxiety about V-Day, particularly early in a relationship. This writer himself had something of a scare.
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I'm not a Valentine's Day faithful, not a belieVer, so to speak. I carried the resistor's torch for years back in high school, but it was easy to write me off when I didn't have a girlfriend. When I met Phoebe, though, I was faced with a unique problem. We started going out on New Year's Eve (undrunkenly, I promise), which put us within a stone's throw of V-Day right at the beginning of the relationship. I wasn't sure where she stood on the issue; it had never come up. How high of a cost was I willing to pay for my declared values? And how cheap would I sell them if I had to?
I was brave. I more or less handed Phoebe the pamphlet: Hallmark holiday, personal nature of romance, consumer rush, blah, blah, blah. And, lucky me, she nodded in vehement agreement. What a load off my mind! Now I was free to loathe the holiday without fostering resentment. I thought the matter was settled.
But the next day her friend, Tara, motioned me over to her end of the lunch table.
"You know Phoebe wants to celebrate Valentine's Day, right?"
What? No, I knew no such thing! But by the end of the conversation, I wasn't feeling so sure. And it only got worse. Later, in the hallway, another of Phoebe's friends made the same ushering motion.
"You're still going to celebrate Valentine's Day, aren't you?"
B-but... she said...
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"I don't think she wanted to say, but I'm sure she really does."