I fell off the Valentine’s train in second grade. Following the suggestion of a few eager students, our teacher set aside time on Valentine’s Day so that all of us could exchange those silly cards with messages like “You’re my one true valentine” that came neatly packaged in boxes of 50. The fact that Valentine’s Day, more than any other holiday, is practically synonymous with candy definitely helped motivate those looking to win friends and first kisses. We’d create a kind of “Be Mine” swapmeet for about half-hour after recess, allowing the kids with the most Garfield valentines or pastel candy necklaces to gloat over the proof of their fame. For whatever reason, I completely forgot about the scheduled lovefest and had nothing to give. I sat quietly at my desk and watched as Kelly Kinchen told everyone not to give me any chocolate hearts because I was too stingy to bring any of my own. Our teacher was—in typical public elementary school fashion—oblivious to Kelly’s plot and for some reason I decided to hate the holiday instead of the little wench who split half of my booty with the class bully, Daniel.
Hrmmm…the things we hold on to.
For years now, I’ve mocked and maligned Valentine’s Day with a spite usually reserved for rival sports teams and mothers-in-laws. I’ve learned to hate the candygrams and reject the heart-shaped suckers. I’ve even developed an arsenal of pretentious rebuffs for those among us who still give out the little Garfield valentines, my favorite being “fuck you.”
Though they appear year-round, I’ve always associated personal ads with Valentine’s Day. You know the story. Some tragically ugly guy sitting alone in his room, reciting failed pick-up lines over and again in his head. The
blind dates and singles mixers, the midnight calls to high school exes and longing glances at Freida, the grocery store checker. And then the plan: He’ll write a personal—one part creativity and three parts lie—and it will turn his life around. The ads usually read something like:
BUSTING OUT IN 2002: Funny, attractive, caring SWM, 29, looking for intelligent, adventurous lady to share dinners, movies and long walks with. Pets and serious drugs optional. Casual sex first, but potential for “relationship” there. Call me!
Or there is the chica who’s just seen the Laurence Olivier Wuthering Heights for the ninth time and simply can’t live alone another minute (“looking for the one”), the steely divorceé who’s been out of the dating scene for more than a few years (“looking for youthfully mature mate”), the flamboyant gay man whose caricature of an ad is so wacky it has to be a joke (“looking for Mr. Nasty”) and, of course, the fetish person (“looking for a petite Inuit who likes to suck toes”). If I had a magic wand I’d love to make some of those ads tell the bitter truth.
JUST ABOUT AVERAGE: Single, financially insecure BF looking for a guy who is alive, nice and not crazy. Call me!
With a dramatically furrowed brow, I should now wag my finger at the bows and hearts, the candy necklaces, mushy cards and dishonest singles ads and make a witty generalization about the commercialization (Valentine’s Day) and commodification (personals sections) of luv. But in theory, I suppose, a day meant to celebrate the idea of love—meant to encourage the giving and receiving of love—would be just fine. Everybody stay home and love. Doesn’t matter who or how—just love. Adopt a puppy, go on a road trip with your best friend, buy something black with a bit of lace. Whatever. That guy down the hall who needs a hug, give him a hug. Haven’t called your mom in a while? Great, give her a ring. Ask the girl with a great sense of humor out for coffee. Yes, that’s a holiday I’d like, a holiday I think I could get excited about.