I’m not especially looking forward to Valentine’s Day. I know some do, and that’s great. I’m happy for those people. Really.
I’m not going to go as far as saying Valentine’s Day sucks though. I’m sure some people would disagree that it does, but I’m not one of them. On the bright side, I’m thrilled that I don’t have to decorate my home in heart decor. I don’t have to buy everyone a lavish gift. There’s virtually no controversy about the holiday. No animals are harmed. And I don’t have to lie about it to children. This makes it a pretty harmless, low-maintenance holiday.
Yet I’m just not that into it.
For those who see February 14 as a whimsical day of boundless love, romance, and promise, you may not want to read further, as you will most certainly label me a fun-sucker. And I readily admit to being able to focus all too easily on what’s wrong in a given scenario rather than what’s right. But for those who find themselves in an apathetic state like me, who might appreciate some sarcasm thinly disguised as humor, feel free to indulge in cheap chocolates and follow along as I rattle off my list of…
10 Things That Bug Me About Valentine’s Day
1. It’s a Hallmark holiday. Let’s face it. Valentine’s Day is big business. Visit any Hallmark, Kohl’s, or Wal-Mart in the next few days, and you will find yourself in a line of women with candy, stuffed animals, and stacks of overpriced greeting cards. Cards for the kids, for the parents, for the in-laws, nieces, nephews, and, oh yeah, the significant other. The omission of men here was intentional, as the men don’t tend to step into this line until about February 13. Victoria’s Secret will then be crammed with men quickly purchasing whatever the VS marketing people tell them we want (or maybe what they want). And likewise, the local gas station will have a Valentine’s Day card rack strategically located near the beer cooler. The resourceful man there can also pick up some scratch-off tickets, an out-of-date romantic DVD, a silk rose in a box, and a Snicker bar to top it all off.
2. Romance or Obligation? If it’s the thought that counts, let’s consider what that thought is. As the gift purchase becomes more last-minute, the word obligation seems to ring truer. Somehow I can’t see Channing Tatum buying his beloved a gift that looks like it came from a gas station. Such things certainly aren’t on any woman’s wish list, and even if they are, she’s totally capable of driving herself to the gas station for that Snicker bar. Maybe this is cliché, but perhaps we should be showing our beloved boo the love year-round, rather than on this particular day because society has told us to.
3. Demand equals High Prices. When demand is up, the cost increases. Just because society has dictated we buy certain things or frequent certain types of places on February 14, we are now forced to pay a premium price for things that we could normally get cheaper. Is it a coincidence that Valentine’s Day brings expectations of floral arrangements even though it’s the coldest month of the year? I think not. As a spring holiday, we could just snip some roses off our own bushes for free.
4. Greeting cards are cheesy. Nothing says “I love you” more than an overpriced card written by someone else with a teddy bear on front that opens up to say “You’re gr-r-r-r-reat!”. Or a poem that reads “Sometimes you’re cranky, sometimes you’re blue, but I love you anyway, pookie-doo”. But I don’t blame the man or woman who buys the card, but rather the cheesy greeting card companies who lack originality and poetic ability. In fact, I’m putting this job on my Plan B-Z list, as I feel I’d make a great greeting card writer.
5. Expectations can’t be met. The media has already set us all up for disappointment. I don’t care how close you are to your significant other or how long you’ve been together, your Valentine’s Day fantasy is not going to happen. You’re not going to vocalize it, and your “other” is not able to read your mind. Maybe we’ve all seen too many movies, but envisioning a table for two at a fancy restaurant over a candle-lit dinner, as you do your best version of Lady and The Tramp sharing a noodle, is not likely to happen. Also nix the path of hundreds of candles and rose petals that lead from your front door to the boudoir. Violinists will not magically emerge from your master bathroom. You’re not even going to get buttered toast in bed for breakfast, because crumbs in the bed are his “thing”. So it’s best to lower the expectations. Do it now, or you’ll find yourself doing some serious relationship analysis the day after Valentine’s Day. At the very least, you’ll find yourself trying to refrain from speaking to your significant other for the next week or so. (It’s not that easy, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because they kind of like when we stop speaking to them.)
6. Peer pressure is everywhere. This started back in elementary school when your mom bought you Fonzie valentine cards and you were supposed to give them to everyone in the class, so you did, only to find out that everyone didn’t follow the same rules and the guy that had “the cooties” fell short. It resurrected in middle school when you were pressured to buy–and receive–the most carnations which proved not that you had a lot of boyfriends, but that you were popular. (And by the way, I hear these carnations cost $1.25 each now, which is further proof of #3, and a lot of money for kids who aren’t old enough for a job. ) Peer pressure follows us into adulthood, as we’re forced to endure watching giddy co-workers collect their floral bouquets from the front desk, while we insist that we’ve got big things coming our way too when we get home. It’s just that OUR loved ones know that we hate ostentatious displays of affection and we prefer to celebrate our romance in a private matter. Warning: Don’t use this until you’re absolutely sure flowers are not on the way for you.
7. What becomes of the broken-hearted? There is no place to hide for the lovelorn. You might as well phone in sick and watch Storage Wars marathons for the rest of the week until it’s over. The TV lineup is going to be loaded up with Valentine’s day episodes, and sappy movies back-to-back, such as Titanic, When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, and The Way We Were. The radio theme is going to be songs that contain the word “love” , and you might want to avoid a saccharin-filled commute of Michael Bolton, Lionel Ritchie, and Julio Iglesias. If this bugs you, phone in a request for “Love Stinks” or “I Hate Myself For Loving You”. Look, it’s no coincidence that relationships often end just before Valentine’s Day. Or that new ones begin just after Valentine’s Day. Need proof? Just watch the “In a relationship“ friends on Facebook start switching their statuses to “It’s complicated” just before the big day. It’s probably already started.
8. It’s unhealthy. We’re still working on our holiday weight gain and already in February, we’re slapped in the face with boxes of chocolate. That’s right, lard and sugar. You can’t not eat it. That would be defying all rules of romance and gift-giving. Even if you’re without a valentine, you’re going to have to face the ½ off candy line at CVS the next day, and who can turn down all that chocolate for a measly buck? Then again, if you have kids, I find that some of this stuff carries well into Easter (wink, wink).
9. Conversation Hearts should not be edible. What a gimmick. Every year, these conversation heart manufacturers make millions of dollars, NOT because their candy tastes good, but because they’re shaped like hearts and have these little stupid messages on them, like “I like you”, “Be Mine”, or “Too Sweet”. We need new sayings that better suit the occasion, such as “Love blows”, “I have a headache”, or “This candy tastes like chalk”.
10. Cupid is kind of creepy. Holidays should have a cool figurehead. Christmas has Santa. Easter has the Easter Bunny. Thanksgiving has a turkey, at least for a while. Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, has a naked mannish-looking baby in a diaper shooting people with a bow and arrow. If you actually saw this dude, you’d likely be very afraid. You’d also likely report him as a pervert and the next thing you know, he’d be a registered offender. Then what?
Sound cynical? Maybe. But the bottom line is that Valentine’s Day is for the starry-eyed romantics. Those who have just hooked up and are head over heels in a blissful state of infatuation. These are couples for which nothing can go wrong, love is blind, and expectations can only be exceeded. I say we leave it to them.
Perhaps this makes me a Debbie Downer, but I prefer to see myself as a Practical Polly, because my expectations are simple. Life experience has taught me to set the bar low. Valentine’s Day is a two-way street after all, so the married-for-years couple must learn to get in sync and work out these things called holidays.
There’ll be no overpriced Hallmark expressions here. There’ll be no heart-shaped boxes of finger-poked chocolates. You won’t find me and my boo in the movie line to see The Vow (and you won’t hear me referring to him as my boo unless perhaps a great deal of beer is involved). You won’t find us at the hottest restaurant, because I’m sure The Olive Garden will be packed. You most likely won’t see us at all, as we’ll be sitting home. On the couch. With a bag of popcorn and some of those M&M’s with pretzels inside. Watching a real romance, like Urban Cowboy on DVD as we recite every line just ahead of the script.
Dedicated to my husband, who most likely will never see this to appreciate it:
Bud: “Let’s go to Gilley’s. It’ll make us feel better.”