Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yeah, I Got Your Cupid -- Right Here!

I hate Valentine's Day. Okay, so now you know -- if you're one of those "gooey-in-love-hearts-and-flowers-'why-do-you-angry-Vagina-Monologues-loving-bitches-have-to-attack-the-sacred-institution-of-Valentine's-Day'" types, you'll want to divert your browser immediately to another URL. But maybe you'd be better off if you heard me out. Because I'm not just being a feminist here. I really think its a bad idea all the way round, in more ways than one. Let's start with the most superficial aspects. The color scheme sucks, the art is hokey and poorly drawn, and the entire idea is kind of small-minded and mean-spirited.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should be upfront about the fact that I suffer from the notorious Valentine's Day Curse. For those of you who don't, this is the syndrome where one begins to date someone in March of one year, only to end up breaking up with them (or being broken up with by them) in January of the next, never having experienced the "joys" of being part of a couple on Valentine's Day. I've no idea why this is. It's just seemed to happen this way. Even when I was married, Valentine's Day was usually a forgotten or last minute holiday, buried in the realities of past-due bills and dirty diapers.

So, I guess there's reason to suspect I am a little bitter about Valentine's Day in general. I've even been accused by people who don't know me well of being "unromantic" and "cynical." Though I might cop to a little V-Day Envy, let me clear up the latter charges here and now. My cynicism is reserved for things that warrant it -- like politics and the entertainment industry. But when it comes to love -- and everyone who knows me will tell you this -- I am, in fact, hopelessly romantic and, when in love, unrelentingly naive and "love-conquers-all"-ish.

But I stand by my original assertion that we should do away with this hokey fraud of a holiday. It's history has been written and rewritten by the likes of first Chaucer (nice guy, but not known for his restrained historical notation), then Hallmark and American Greetings, it was sanctioned by candy makers for the purposes of promoting chocolate (not like that's a bad thing, mind you), and its become an opportunity for manufacturers to peddle their wares to everyone from kindergarten teachers to jewelry shoppers.

Here's why I think Valentine's Day is useless and maybe even dangerous. I think we can agree that, for the most part, Valentine's Day is a holiday for women. Men usually show little if any interest in it, unless they are in a relationship. Which is not to say that unattached men don't get notice it, or don't feel left out when it comes around. The blog Bitter Asian Men has a survival guide to assist the single Asian man in surviving this wretched day. Lewis Black has implied that putting the holiday in dismally grey February might be tantamount to inviting singles to commit suicide ("Maybe I should slash my wrists, just so I can see some color!!"). But for the most part, men don't bother with things like candy and flowers unless urged by women. (Yes. I know there are exceptions, and if you're lucky enough to have married one, keep it to yourself. It's never good to advertise your man, sister.)

I have a theory about "romance," as its commonly defined, and just what it has done for Western Civilization as we know it. First off, here in our country, we have a 54% divorce rate, nationwide. In the Bible-belt states, where OurLordJesusChrist seems to have a close personal relationship with every last living soul, the rate is more like 61%. I believe that fairytale, hearts-and-flowers expectation is a huge part of the problem. Romance needs to be redefined, and as long as you have compliant, terrified little sorority girls and huge corporations with a vested financial interest setting the terms of what qualifies as romance, we'll continue to be lost in a sea of doilies and candy hearts.

I think we need to be reminded what love is. I think we need to remember that love isn't about diamonds and tissue paper and February 14th. He can be as nice as pie every Valentine's Day and ignore you the other 364 days a year, and that's not alright. Love is about what you bring every day, in terms of showing up and listening and being there. And if he's there for you every day, propping you up, supporting you, listening to you (which is really hard for me to do because we talk -- a LOT!), and yet manages to forget to buy just the right bouquet or make the right dinner reservation or send the right e-Card, he's skewered. That's what I hate most about Valentine's Day -- it's use as a cudgel to punish if the love doesn't come in a pretty box with bow we like. And don't tell me you don't do it, because I've heard you guys on February 15th in the office kitchen bitching because he didn't buy the right wine or get your hint about that fabulous diamond tennis bracelet you've been wanting.

So, this is why I think we need to start rearranging our priorities when it comes to men, women and romance. And this is why I think that this year, instead of taking your date out on February 14, you should eat out on the 9th, or the 11th or (dare I suggest?) the 17th. Instead of chocolate candy in a heart-shaped box, get a gigantic Pixy Stix for two. Instead of diamonds... okay, let's not get too crazy all at once. If I make the ban-the-diamond suggestion this month, I'm liable to get jumped by a roving band of yuppie princesses. But if I may just put forth an idea here. Allow me to point out that, as beautiful as diamonds are, you never know which ones were mined by a West African child under threat of having their arms amputated (cuz you know most men don't bother with such tidy details as "conflict-free" when it comes to shopping for jewelry). Just a thought to remember as you're showing your lovely new tennis bracelet to your girlies at the club.

It's time to start doing away with this so-called holiday (trumped up and manufactured as it is) and start celebrating real love, everyday love, without that little naked baby and his god-damned arrow (and may I just ask -- where the hell is his mother? What idiot lets a little kid play with a bow and arrow like that?)

Happy February 14th, folks. May it bring all the appropriate joy and fulfillment to you and those you love.


(Hey, I made a lovely little fractal painting in honor of the damn day. What more do you people want? Okay, so I've named it Valentine's Mayhem... so sue me....)

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