The worst thing about Valentine’s Day – if I must pick just one – is the notion that we must all be romantic at the same time. No spontaneity, no original thought, just robotically churning out roses and inhaling Milk Tray for 24 straight hours.
I’m not in a position to define what true love is – although I’d say that the way I feel about LUSH bath bombs comes pretty close – but I do know that it’s not generally a communal event. Well, unless you like that kind of thing…
If posters, adverts and card shop windows are to be believed then each of us must buy a fluffy red devil toy and an oversized card featuring a Care Bear with a picture of our face in its stomach, sit two by two in restaurants, quaff Cava from flashing red beakers and guffaw at how profoundly romantic we are. Battery farm dating at £40 a head.
And then the next day we can compare stories with friends about how amazing our evening was and compete to see who had the most romantically romantic time; secure in the knowledge that it was definitely us.
Or if – heaven forbid – we don’t have a Valentine to call our own – we can just sit at home alone, necking vodka, watching Bridget Jones and using our oversized pants to mop up our tears. As if our status on this day matters one iota.
If you can find me someone who experiences genuine pleasure when given a stuffed dog with ‘I wuv you’ written on its collar then fine. Good for them. But I reckon that in most cases what they really enjoy is telling people about it:
“My boyfriend is more romantic than your boyfriend because he bought me an item so flammable we can no longer use the hobs!”
Congratulations, take a bow.
When I was at school, Valentine’s Day was just another reminder of how unappealing I was to the opposite sex. As if just being alive wasn’t enough. I remember subtly checking my drawer – clearly marked ‘Charlotte Reeve – Enquire Within’ should any secret admirers need directions – to see if anyone had popped a little card or limerick in there for me.
So, to hide my disappointment, I’d just take out my French book and start conjugating the shit out of some verbs. One day my subjunctive would be the talk of the town.
And then when I did finally find a boyfriend, I discovered that all Valentine’s Day brought was an annual language barrier between us. Me shouting like an Englishman abroad:
“IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY. WE MUST CELEBRATE. BUY ME ROSES!”
And him – though it pains me to say – talking sense:
“This day has nothing to do with us. We already have five anniversaries a year. Eating amongst hundreds of other couples will be awful. Let’s just stay in and have some crisps like we normally do.”
Valentine’s Day is really only as important as you make it. Go the whole hog and order a barbershop quartet, or ignore it altogether and just get a pie and peas on like any other day. As long as you’re doing what you genuinely want, it doesn’t really matter.
As for us… we’ll probably just drink until the clock says we’ve made it to 15th February.
Now there’s a day worth celebrating.