Does Valentine's Day Make You Cringe?

Does Valentine's Day Make You Cringe?

Does Valentine's Day Make You Cringe?

Thumbnail: 
sweethearts candies
Dek: 
One writer learned the secret to avoiding cynicism every February 14th.

Call me a cynic, but nothing breeds disappointment and disillusionment quite like Valentine's Day. If you're in a relationship, then it's a day loaded with romantic expectations. If you're single, then you're likely to be dwelling on what you don't have and feeling lonely in the process. In addition, all parties—single, married, dating—will be suffering from a mild form of temporary amnesia. It happens every year.

People tend to forget all the romantic gestures and moments they've experienced on the 364 days leading up to Valentine's Day, and all that matters is what happens on February 14, and February 14 alone. Call it amnesia, or tunnel vision. Both terms are rather accurate, and both require various coping mechanisms. 10 Most Romantic Movie Moments

Consider the following four general responses to V-Day:

1. Enthusiasm. Some people are die-hard romantics and love to keep Hallmark in business. This includes all the men who make grand, sweeping gestures for the women in their lives with flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and expensive dinners.

2. Jealousy. (Usually aimed at those who are exercising enthusiasm.) This response often leads to wallowing, which then leads to cheeky notions, such as re-naming the holiday, "Singles Awareness Day." Are You The Jealous Type?

3. Rebellion. These are the folks behind the Anti-Valentine's Day movement, which has steadily been gaining steam over the past couple of years. Bars in major cities all over the U.S. host Anti-V- Day parties, complete with dead roses, torn paper hearts, and grand prizes for those with the most pitiful stories of being dumped. There are also multiple websites cashing in on this trend. They offer witty merchandise so that patrons may wear their rebellion proudly. There are buttons that declare, "Cupid is not my homeboy," and virtual greeting cards that read, "Nothing says I love you like saturated fat and slutty lingerie."

4. Avoidance. A recent article in The Frisky provides 15 Ways To Avoid Valentine's Day This Year. Most notable of which are their first two suggestions: "Stay home alone all day and night on Valentine's Day;" or, this liberating, albeit unhealthy, bit of advice: "Set your computer and phone date to February 15, as if the big day never even happened." 3 Tips To Avoid Overindulging Over The Holidays

As for me, I've adopted all four of those attitudes towards Valentine's Day, depending upon what my circumstances were at the time. However, the one response I'm rarely ever able to maintain is outright avoidance. It's an occupational hazard, if you will.

Aside from writing about love and relationships, I also work as a server, and in the restaurant world, Valentine's Day is a major event that lasts for an entire week. If the holiday falls on any day of the week other than Friday or Saturday, you can bet people will be making dinner reservations on both adjoining weekends, in addition to the big day itself.  6 Non-Restaurant Valentine's Day Ideas

Over the years, I've watched parades of happy couples file through the doors, and witnessed many a would-be Romeo propose to his future wife. At times, said proposal has involved the server holding onto the actual engagement ring—never the best idea!—and then presenting it during dinner on a tray with a single red rose.

I've observed countless other spectacles on or around February 14. Take, for example, the elderly rich man I waited on last year at a restaurant in New York City. His Valentine's dates were two young blonde girls with tiny waists and tall heels. They wore white fur coats and shyly gestured at the menu, speaking every so often in pronounced Russian accents. Throughout each course, the women picked at their food, only eating half of what they ordered. Meanwhile, their host continued to dote over them, granting their every request, and concluding the evening by whipping out his black American Express card. Angry Single Blogger: Why Do Fat, Rich Men Have All The Fun?

Priceless.

Yet, for all the heart-shaped clichés and cringe-worthy moments, there is always one couple or another that comes into the restaurant and sheds a redemptive light on the holiday. They're the ones who have been married for 50 years and still hold hands underneath the table. They're the ones who will get up and start slow dancing when the live jazz musicians play a rendition of their favorite song. They stand together—two, carefree renegades who care little about the fact that no one else is dancing aside. Frankly, no one else would have even thought of it because this is not a restaurant where dancing usually occurs. Yet, there they are; a sweet, veteran couple creating their own dance floor.

They smile and they hold each other and as I watch them, I get the definite sense that they are reliving something in their minds. Perhaps it's a memory that the song invokes of a time when they first met... /node/62735

I don't know what they're thinking, but I do know this: I want it to be a special evening for them, and not just because I'm getting paid for it. The extreme irony of being a server is that no matter what my relationship status is on Valentine's Day, my primary job description is to make everyone else's night awesomely romantic. I make sure their water glasses are full and their faces are smiling and their steaks are cooked to utter perfection.

Sometimes I am genuine in my endeavors, and other times I do it simply for the paycheck, but the one thing my job has taught me, year after year, is that I'd rather be doing this than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself because I don't have a Valentine. This is infinitely better. Why I Feel Sorry For Eva Mendes

It's even better than drinking wine with my girlfriends. I can do that any night of the week. As Valentine's Day rolls around each year, I've started to view it as an opportunity to stop being selfish and to focus my time and energy outward. Rather than responding with any of the four general responses to this holiday (i.e. enthusiasm, jealousy, rebellion, or avoidance) I like to think of a fifth possible response:

5. Altruism. We do this a lot for other holidays, such as Christmas and birthdays. It's become quite popular to ask friends and family to donate to specific charities in lieu of buying presents that none of us actually need. Why not adopt the trend on Valentine's Day, as well?

Do as Brenda and Dylan did on one classic episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 and donate blood together as a couple. Sure, it sounds a little random, but when Brenda asked Dylan to give her a hint about what they would be doing for Valentine's Day that year, he told her, "It's something red, warm, and close to the heart." That fits, doesn't it? Charitable Giving: A New Way To Bond

If you're single, grab a group of your other single friends, and offer to make dinner for the married couples in your life. If they have children, offer to baby-sit. Just do something that focuses your attention outward. In the process, you may be surprised at how your cynicism starts to dissolve, and how the actual point of Valentine's Day is ultimately resurrected.

How are you planning to spend Valentine's Day this year? Post your ideas below.

Join the Conversation