Today is Valentine's Day. This will come as a shock to no one. The presence of it ground into us. If you've watched television or listened to the radio in the last week, you know. Hell, if you've been within two square miles of a Wal-Mart in the past month, you know. This should be the point where I rant and rave about the commercialization of a holiday and how we should really celebrate the meaning behind the holiday, itself. I'll remind you, though, that the Feast of St. Valentine was removed from the Catholic calendar in 1969 and that the Catholic church is probably horrified to imagine how much pre-marital sex is associated with what was once a holy feast to recognize somebody (Three St. Valentines, no less!) who was martyred for their love of Christ. That means nobody is celebrating what the holiday was originally about. So nyeah.
No. I'm going to talk about obligations. The fact is this: Today is Valentine's Day and people everywhere will be doing something squishily romantic for a significant other because they feel like they have to. That's not to say they don't love said other, or that they're not particularly romantic people, or even that they don't necessarily want to. But they're doing it because they feel like if they don't, there's going to be hell to pay.
Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with that? Doesn't it cheapen the experience of romance? How can you feel wonderful about getting flowers on Valentine's Day when deep down you know that the reason that you're getting flowers is that the sender felt like they should -- not because they really wanted to do something romantic for you today, but because they really wanted to do something romantic for you today. Hallmark said to. Wouldn't you rather that something romantic happened spontaneously.. maybe on some other day, when you weren't expecting it?
It goes well beyond that, though. Not only is it a day in which the coupled people have to weirdly do things for each other or feel inadequate, but it's also a day in which those compulsory actions have the effect of making single people feel like total frickin' shmucks. Is that a good way to spread the love? Is having one half of the population feel alienated from the other even remotely productive? Take a look at the current political climate, and you tell me.
We can change this. All it takes is a concerted effort on everyone's part. Today is a lost cause, but from this day forth, follow my plan and we can remove this insiduous disease from the calendar.
First, don't ditch your plans for tonight. Really. There's no need to start a new era in humanity by pissing off your partner, potential partner, or pity-sex date. So, keep those reservations, deliver those flowers, bite the bullet, empty your wallet, and swallow the bitter pill of one more Valentine's Day crossed off on the calendar. But, at some point during the day tomorrow, you might want to think of bringing the topic up, "Maybe it would be cool if we did this differently next year."
Some of you may meet a lot of resistance. Some of you may not be able to avoid this Hallmark Holiday, no matter how hard you try. For all of you, I'm sorry. Thank you for taking the hit for the rest of us.
The rest of you coupled people? To work! Romantically.
Here's the trick: You don't want to remove romance from your life. Rather, you want to spread it out evenly throughout your year so that you don't feel obligated to conform to some company's idea of when you should be romantic, and when you shouldn't. Chances are you've already got a couple of dates around the calendar that are much more meaningful than Valentine's Day, anyway. Your anniversary or your partner's birthday, for example. You wanna get tricky? Try the anniversary of the day you first met, your first date, or your first kiss. Oh, sure. You might not be able to remember the date exactly, but chances are neither do they. Make an estimate, and then try this phrase out: "According to my calculations, today should be the [amount of time here] anniversary of our first kiss. I think we should celebrate." And then? Then crank up the hi-fi and get busy, baby. Rowr!
But don't think you need an event. The words, "Just because." are your best friends, and go over way better than some assy-ass generic card you picked out at the store. Remember, nothing says "I love you" more than, "400,000 other people received this exact same sentiment today."
Next: gifts. Screw big chocolate hearts and giant bouqets of roses. How generic. How, "I didn't bother to think of anything original." Go hand-pick a bunch of dandelions or daisies or something. Pick the neighbors tulips, if you must. Put them in a vase (or an old wine bottle, or an old beer bottle, or whatever), sit down, write a 4-line poem like:
Roses are red,
Daisies are white.
Let's put these away,
And rock out all night.
Hand 'em both over. That is a gift, and it's a gift you can give anytime of the year without the permission of greeting card company, or even any pretense.
Look, these are poor examples. There are a thousand things you can do. Preset their favorite song to play on the CD player when they get in the car; leave a little love note in their lunch box; mail them a poem on the back of a picture of you. I could go on, but I don't need to. There are two huge keys to defeating this "holiday." Use your imagination, and have fun. What are you in this relationship for, after all? Just to procreate and file taxes jointly? Or are you there because you actually feel some love and compassion for that person you're with? C'mon! Don't let some uninspired company say the words for you! Take some initiative and five minutes of creativity. The world will be a better place.
Lastly? Spread the word. Tell people about the gushingly romantic things you did, or that happened to you, and do it in the context of, "Valentine's Day? Why celebrate just to make some faceless corporation rich!" See, you can get the hang of that.
Now go! Go forth and grinch up Valentine's Day! Myself? Well, if I don't order some flowers and get a big ol' box ol' chocolates real soon, I'm gonna be in a world of hurt.
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
2.14.05 @ 12:09a
You're so very lucky she loves you.
2.14.05 @ 9:04a
You're damn right I am.
2.14.05 @ 9:52a
We're cooking at home tonight, our Valentine's Day tradition. The only corporation making money off us is Dean & Deluca.
But it stuns me how some people are so pinned to this day. I read an events chat on washingtonpost.com last week where a girl was going all nutty because the only reservation her boyfriend could get was at 5:30, and she didn't think she could get out of work to get there.
The responses were a combination, but mostly they smacked her upside the head for being unreasonable. Dinner on February 15th tastes the same and you'll get better service because there aren't 18 other couples there at the exact same time making the exact same demands on your waiter.
2.14.05 @ 10:20a
Myers! What do think you're doing, man? Are you crazy or just frustrated and trying to ruin a no brain, surefire panty-dropper for the rest of us? You want originality on Valentine's day, go to a V-day rally and talk about vaginas.
Speaking of which, if I don't get any tonight due to lack of creativity, It's on you, Benedict Arnold!
2.14.05 @ 11:25a
I get away with "half aniversary" instad of vday. But I think really, I'm just lucky she puts up with me.
2.14.05 @ 11:28a
Hey, I'm all for making men work a little harder for their "panty-dropper" if it means we can keep the originality quotient a little higher in the world.
Call it natural selection.
2.14.05 @ 11:43a
Call it natural selection.
Too late, bro. I already snuck two past the goalie and am busy raising them to be thoroughly uncreative conformists!
I'm just lucky she puts up with me.
No, no, no! They're lucky we put up with them! Game-face, man, this is a public website!
2.14.05 @ 11:46a
We were going out to dinner, but the place we were going to has a prix fixe meal tonight. We also have a coupon for the place we want to go...but can't use it tonight. Therefore, we're going tomorrow night, and will spend less than half for essentially the same meal ordered a la carte.
Hey, we want to do something nice together, but we're not stupid. I've promised to pick something up for dinner tonight. Vietnamese sounds good.
2.14.05 @ 1:25p
I feel exactly the same about V.D. Doing romantic stuff when it's not expected.....I love it, has way more meaning to me than a bunch of dumb-ass chocolate and flowers on a specific day of the year.
2.14.05 @ 2:02p
I'm about to drop wisdom on all of you.
Go nuts on February 13th.
There it is. You will be a hero.
Warning: This works amazing poorly if done on the 15th.
2.14.05 @ 2:11p
Warning: This works amazing poorly if done on the 15th.
2.14.05 @ 2:12p
Some of us go nuts on the 13th anyway. Those of us who, for example, have children who had the nerve to be born the day before V-Day. And since my husband's birthday is this week as well, I am doing NOTHING special for tonight. We did steaks at Lone Star for the kid's birthday, and I suspect we'll be eating Thai on Friday.
2.14.05 @ 6:08p
The fiancee' and I used to have a 10 dollar limit for V. Day, to keep it simple and force some creativity. This year, now that everyone has a decent job, we went the other way and decided that each of us, at some convenient time, would spend some money on something nice. Last weekend I took her to the FINEST resaurant in all of Binghamton. At some point in the future, she will treat me to a good meal somewhere.
Also, this weekend we looked around in the card section, picked out cards, showed them to each other, and put them back.
And while I sort of notice that today is Valentine's Day, boy did I HATE this holiday when I was single...
2.15.05 @ 8:17a
"the FINEST resaurant in all of Binghamton"
So.. like.. Burger King? ;)
2.15.05 @ 11:17a
Jefe? That you?
Erik and I each made half of a fabulous dinner. And then I let him beat me at Scrabble and we mocked Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing.
2.15.05 @ 11:52a
Si, es el Jefe.
You can, without much trouble, spend a few digits at the Number 5 in Binghamton, and still think it was well worth it. Yummmmm.
2.15.05 @ 12:02p
We don't usually freak out on THE DAY, but do like to go away for the weekend if we can, simply because our time together is pretty limited anyway.
And with my birthday being 2 days before, it's all relative. Give me chocolate 1 day or t'other, makes no difference to me.
We do exchange cards, but then again, I'm a card whore anyway.
Last night was appetizers and martinis at 5:15, then Sleepy was in bed by 7:30 pm.
2.15.05 @ 4:50p
Tracey Kelley: Card Whore
I usually send cards to my dad and grandparents but I was lax this year. And it's not like a birthday where I feel like it's ok to send a belated card.
2.16.05 @ 11:13a
Heh. Keanu. He should have played Dogberry, not Don John. "Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass."
We had a really nice meal last night. Saved about $40. What price love? Of course I probably blew almost $40 on the meal I ended up cooking on VD itself.
2.16.05 @ 4:06p
But he would have wrecked that part. "yet forget not that I am an ass, Dude." Seriously, even when he doesn't say it, he says it.
2.16.05 @ 5:23p
Okay, serious minority here, but I loved every single aspect of Much Ado About Nothing, and that includes Keanu. That Don John speech is awesome, even if they left off the best part: "I am trusted with a muzzle, and enfranchised with a clog."
But they did include "In the meantime, let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me." Yeah, baby.
Russ, at least for the $80, you got two meals instead of one. Bright side.
2.16.05 @ 5:26p
And two leftover southwestern crab/corn cakes, two leftover black bean cakes, and some fried flour tortilla chips! All I need is to make some more dressing and get some mixed greens, and I can serve it all again.
2.16.05 @ 6:18p
Ymmm. All we have left is a couple slices of proscuitto di Parma and a serving of goat cheese and basil ravioli in pesto. Not sure if I should just reheat the pasta in the microwave, add more pesto, or try it in another sauce entirely. I'd pour on some jarred Alfredo if it weren't Lent and I weren't back on the Campaign For a Healthier Jael.
2.16.05 @ 7:15p
Are the ravioli IN the pesto? Because if the prosciutto is still unaltered, tear it into shreds and saute it in a little butter and olive oil (1:1) 'til it starts getting almost crisp, then add some garlic, mushrooms and a shallot or half an onion, cook that all nice, add a splash of sherry or other dry white wine, toss the ravs in it and sprinkle with the goat cheese and some fresh ground pepper.
2.17.05 @ 4:50p
Damn, that sounds good.
What I did was throw some olive oil in a pan and saute to get tasty brown crispiness on parts of the pasta. Got home at 7:55, Lost was on at 8. You understand.
3.1.05 @ 5:57p
Valentine's Day was wildly overshadowed this year with a cruise with my beau. It corresponded, by coincidence, but we so much as nodded in the way of the day. Actually, I believe I received a "Happy Valentine's Day" and a crown from Burger King. Now THAT'S romance.
You're right, Erik, anything someone can do on VDay means 10 times more on any other given day.
3.5.05 @ 10:36p
V-day was great this year, it was our playoffs for volleyball, we got eliminated in the first round and were at the bar by 7:30. Hurray for public transportation. :)
3.6.05 @ 6:24p
THAT is the way to celebrate V-day.