I’m not the most romantic man in the world. Are you O.K.? Hang on, I’ll wait while you get a cloth or something to dry off your screen and keyboard, because I know how embarrassing a spit-take can be. I hope you didn’t choke or aspirate. Maybe you should take a couple of minutes to recover.
Is it fine for me to continue? Good. Now that you are over the shock, let me elaborate. Valentine’s Day is a con, a multi-billion dollar scam designed to make us spend money we don’t have on things we don’t want to buy. Getting a card from a secret admirer, while potentially creepy, is not unwelcome, but the modern Valentine’s Day industry has removed not only the romance, but also the mystery from the day.
Let’s be honest. If a guy doesn’t buy a card and a gift for his S.O. he is going to be in a world of hurt. For the married man, this is doubly true. Over the course of my marriage my interest in the so-called holiday waned, from the initial enthusiasm of the newlywed to a perfunctory duty as it became increasingly clear that our marriage was nothing more than a domestic arrangement. There was one bright moment, though. When my son was about six, I was sitting at the table waiting for my wife to come downstairs, and he asked me what was in the box on the table. I told him and explained that it was a Valentine’s Day gift for his mother. Eventually, she came downstairs, and with an air of fake interest asked “I wonder what this is?”, to which my son, in a bright clear voice full of enthusiasm announced; “It’s earrings!” Thanks, son.
Fast forward to this year. My sweetie came over on the 10th, and as we planned our weekend, she said “You realise what Friday is don’t you?”.
“Ah. I was going to talk to you about that”. I explained that I regard Valentine’s Day as a scam and how I resent the societal pressure to express my feelings for someone in a public display of consumption in front of strangers. Much better, I said, to simply prove it to the person concerned on a daily basis, rather than on one particular day, my example being Christmas. Why the emphasis on “Peace on earth and good will to all men” on 1/365th of the year? Why not apply that tenet every day?
“But we’re still doing flowers and Champagne, aren’t we?”
Which is why I found myself in Costco on Feb 14th, surrounded by concerned looking men who were enveloped in a fog of desperation and despondency. Yes, I bought roses,and yes, I did buy Champagne. I have always put quality above quantity and refuse to drink sparkling white wine. What I do resent is the 50% hike over the price I paid for a bottle just before New Year’s Eve. I’d already bought her a gift, so I’m not entirely stupid, no matter what you might think.
She came over on the Friday evening, but timing and circumstances meant that it wasn’t until Sunday that we actually celebrated. I baked a mushroom strudel from scratch, made a salad and provided dessert to go along with the roses and champagne, and I must admit that it was the most enjoyable Valentine’s Day I’d had in a long while. To be honest, it didn’t feel forced at all. I enjoyed the evening, and at least I spent it in the company of someone who doesn’t treat me like a mildly retarded house N*****.
Am I wrong here? should I have said nothing and just gone along with the game?” I’m not perfect, ( sorry, I hope you had the cloth nearby) but at least I know when the hill isn’t worth dying for. It’s not that I don’t appreciate her, it’s just that she’s the only one who really needs to know that, and I can do that in much more effective ways than the production of dying flora and carbonated alcohol.