I bet you wish you could choke Cupid
When I was in grade school there was a ritual surrounding Valentine’s Day. Sure, kids exchanged Valentines. But, anticipating the later “everyone gets a trophy” mindset, kids were required to bring Valentines for all of their classmates if they participated. Otherwise, the most popular kids ended up with an armload of paper testimonials of their worthiness and the unpopular kids would sit there empty-handed, the exclamation point on their undesirability. No one loves you, losers!
Kids got around it, though. The popular, desirable kids got big Valentine’s Day cards while the undesirables got cruddy little dime a dozen “cards” with the only sentiment being the obligatory name of the person required to give it to you. I even had one little she-devil in training write “Just so you know…I have a boyfriend.” Hey, relax little girl, we’re fifth graders exchanging crappy Valentines. I ain’t trying to move in on your little recess hand-holding sessions.
Perhaps those rituals sparked people’s loathing of Valentine’s Day. It’s weird that for a day dedicated to love it inspires such scorn. Some of us would like to snatch that bow and arrow out of Cupid hands, swat him out of the sky, put him over our knee and beat his cherubic hiney with it. But why?
On social media you can see the loathing emanating mostly from single people. If you just got out of a bad relationship then it’s no wonder that a day of romance, flowers, hearts and love is about as welcome as someone from Wuhan, China on your international flight. (Way too soon, huh?)
Sure there’s jealousy there. Just like you don’t want to see 42 photos of your friend’s trip to Aruba when your last vacation was a staycation at the Holiday Inn Express with a DoorDash splurge, watching kissy-faced friends flood social media with their syrupy sweet nothings produces a similar effect to flicking one’s uvula with an index finger. Single people don’t want to be reminded of the fact that they come home to an empty house, a cold-hearted cat and a microwaved burrito with the highlight of the evening being an episode of “The Masked Singer.” No one to share your bed except a ball-licking dog and your only source of romantic action being a little menage a moi doesn’t exactly produce the warm fuzzies.
But people in relationships are filled with anxiety over Valentine’s Day, too. We resent it. We resent the pressure of having to buy flowers. Spending perfectly good dollars on dead cut flowers just rubs the wrong way. Yes, that smile and glow across your loved one’s face when those flowers are delivered are wonderful but a week later when you’re dumping those shriveled, decomposing rose carcasses in the trash it always feels like a damning statement on your relationship.
I’ve stood in floral shops while mostly men have hemmed and hawed and tried to figure out what to get. I’ve also stood in the card aisle while brain-dead looking men stood there reading cards trying to find just the right one to pass muster and put this year’s Valentine’s Day behind them. Then there’s always the guy who rushes in and just grabs the cheapest flowers and a generic card and rushes out. Good luck enjoying the couch, buddy!
No one wants to feel pressured to have to give a gift. It’s why no one likes surprise Christmas gifts from people around Christmastime, Too often, instead of being thrilled that someone thought of you, your thought is, “Crap, now I have to buy another gift!” You want to get your honey bunny something wonderful and something that won’t leave her embarrassed when she inevitably talks about Valentine’s Day with her friends. Pressure, pressure and more pressure.
Going out is a hassle because restaurants are packed. You thought you were the only one who thought a romantic Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner would check the boxes? Wrong. How romantic is it going to be when you have a hard time finding a place to park, have to wait for a table and then strain to be heard over the roar of other couples trying to have Hallmark moments on this manufactured day of merriment? And with the restaurant packed the odds of your service sucking or your order being wrong skyrocket.
When the day is done, the cards, gifts and flowers are given and a day of love and passion are concluded, do you bask in the glow of eternal love or are you just relieved that you made it through another friggin’ Valentine’s Day?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The other day I was watching PBS and they were playing an old video by someone I’ve long admired, the love doctor, the late Dr. Leo Buscaglia. Buscaglia promoted the idea of expressing love in all of its forms, not just romantic love. And he certainly wouldn’t have approved of relegating love to one special day a year.
If you’re alone on Valentine’s Day then look up Buscaglia on YouTube and watch some of his videos. I’d recommend you read his books but hearing him speak really brings his loving concepts alive. You can feel him bursting with love. Okay, I know that last sentence might’ve made you roll your eyes but give the videos a chance. I’m offering you the chance to escape from Valentine’s Day Hell.
So forget the candy, flowers and cards. Don’t worry about booking that fancy restaurant or romantic getaway. After all, if you’re in a loving, caring, mutually beneficial relationship you’re probably doing some of those traditionally romantic things throughout the year. Just spend time together with your cell phones off. For men, just picking up after yourself, cleaning up and cooking your mate a dinner will beat flowers and candy all to hell.
It’s cliché but love yourself. Treat yourself well on Valentine’s Day. Get together with a friend. If you’re single then get together with other single friends. Get out of the house and experience nature. It’s amazing what a walk in the woods can do for your mood. If you cook, then cook a delicious meal and invite friends or family. Or just open a bottle of wine and savor that meal yourself. Message your friends and just tell them you care. Cuddle with that ball licking dog and cold-hearted cat. Just do you. Love you.
No pressure. No expectations. No worries.
Love isn’t about a fat angel baby with archaic weaponry. Or as Leo said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
We don’t have to fear Valentine’s Day. And the best part is chocolate is 50% off the next day.