MINEFIELD OF LOVE
Valentine's Day is a day that most people dread whether they're in a relationship or not. It's incredibly loaded with pressure and you get it from everywhere. The commercials for diamonds, florists and champagne. The fliers left under your windshield in parking lots advertising romantic dinner specials. Even just walking by the card section in the grocery store one cannot help but notice the huge section of Valentine's Day cards.
If you're in a relationship and you're a woman there's the whole expectation thing - is he going to get you flowers? Or take you out to dinner? And if it's the latter, did he remember to make reservations, or are you going to end up at The Red Lobster? And sometimes it's will he even remember that it's Valentine's Day? If it's a new relationship, one where you've only been dating for a couple of months and there have been no declarations of love, it's even worse because it's a socially contrived opportunity for him to finally let you know how he feels. And for that reason many men dig their heels in and decide to not even acknowledge the day at all. A completely understandable knee jerk reaction to the obvious manipulation of the greeting card industry, but ultimately a disastrous course of action just for the sake of rebellion.
For men it truly is even trickier. If you're just dating, or in the case of so many of my male friends who are either terrified of commitment or dating someone they're not into for the regular sex while they're waiting for their super model girlfriend to notice them - you know "hanging out," what do you do so as not to send the wrong message? They don't make cards that say "Happy Valentine's day to the woman I really enjoy hanging out and having casual sex with."
And even if you're in a relationship and happy about it the terrain can still be tricky. A man who is incredibly romantic and in love and wants to tell the world about it has got so much trashy, sappy Valentine's Day crap to choose from he runs the risk of buying something, with the best intentions of course, that is truly heinous. And upon receiving the very often truly offensive piece of lingerie often trimmed in maribou, many women just don't see the good intentions with which the gift was purchased, they sometimes get reactive and say things like, "What in the world were you thinking? Do I look like a someone who would actually wear something like this? Do you think I'm a whore?"
And it's pretty much downhill from there.
I really don't know that many people who have the kinds of Valentine's Day celebrations that I see advertised on TV. I think the last time that I looked forward to Valentine's Day I was in elementary school. My mom would take me to Hill Drug to purchase one of those plastic wrapped boxes of 40 cards that said things like, "Be Mine" and "You're Sweet Valentine" so that I could labriously address a card, utilizing my brand new cursive writing skills, to every kid in the class for the card exchange on Valentine's Day. And then, of course there was the candy - a holiday with candy pretty much rocked my 10 year old world. The Whitman sampler that my dad would get my mom. The big box of See's candy that Mrs. Drew brought to be shared by the whole class. And of course those little chalk like candy hearts with the weird flavors like clove and peppermint and the yellow one that has a taste that I can't really describe.
I always made sure that I made a card for everyone in the class whether I liked them or not. I couldn't stand the idea that someone might not get a Valentine. And actually for the kids that didn't get many Valentine's Day cards, the day probably sucked. Just like all those Valentine's Days when my boyfriend didn't express his love for me with even a card, much less diamonds and roses, or the guy I was dating called me for what can only be described as a consolation prize dinner/booty call. It wasn't the Red Lobster but it might as well have been.
I'm all for shifting the emphasis of Valentine's Day from romantic love to just love - any kind of love - because when it comes to love it's all good. Keep the candy, because like I said, any holiday that includes candy as part of the celebration is a good one, but lose all the expectations and emphasis on the couples club. Just let the people that you love know that you love them. Do for them what you would love for someone to do for you. I sent my nana flowers today - lucky for me carnations are her favorites - and she just called me completely thrilled to bits because, c'mon, it's so awesome to have flowers delivered just for you!
And the next time I find myself romantically involved with a fabulous man on Valentine's Day I am going to buy him something wonderful from Agent Provocateur.
In a 36C.
Thus ensuring that we both get something we enjoy on Valentine's Day.