Valentine Cynicism

14 Feb
Nothing says 'I Love You' like a pack of scouring pads.

Nothing says ‘I Love You’ like a pack of scouring pads.

Oh no, its here again. That dreadful demarcation of the calendar into one 24 hour period during which we must gush our gratitude for some sprinkling of affection from some other soul. And whilst I am sure it is wonderful for all the superficial seducers out there, for us singletons it more often than not leads to a sorrowful whine.

From no age we are taught that we need to find a mate – it is a life essential that we shower someone of the opposite sex with affection (homosexuality wansn’t an option when I was at primary school, maybe that’s changed now?). We make hearts out of red card, and write messages in thick crayon to our favoured female relatives, or if we’re feeling bold, the object d’amour within our pre-teen classes.

I recall a French lesson at secondary school where I had to describe my ‘ideal woman’ using my limited vocab Français. A genuine belief that I wasn’t interested solely in a particular check list of physical attributes, like some demented Dr Frankenstein, wasn’t good enough for Mademoiselle. Hetero-norms were bunged into my brain from the word go. And yet nothing could be done for my naturally shy and awkward demeanor.

Valentine’s Day not only encourages us to make rash decisions in search of some tokenistic love, but it encourages us to spend with reckless abandon, and to develop our stalking skills. The first lesson in any good stalker’s life will be the discovery of the intended Valentine’s home address, and the subsequent anonymous sending of a salacious card in which one states one’s dishonorable intentions.

On arrival of the card, the recipient then enters a guessing game in which it is not always clear who the sender was. This can of course lead to awkward situations when the emissary is the slightly spotty and socially inept classmate that you’ve been avoiding for the last six months because they have ‘serial killer’ written all over their face. It is one thing to be admired, but to be admired by someone you loathe, well…

I haven’t sent an anonymous card since I was a teenager. Since then, come this time of year, I’ve normally been in relationships, rather than seeking to start one afresh (why one would ever do this close to Valentine’s day is anyone’s guess). Anonymity has never done me any good. Nor has confessing I might have feelings for someone. The last time I let on I might be feeling a little longing for a lady, I had a pleasant but firm rebuttal. As I simply cannot read the signs properly, its safer for me to carry on solo than to be beaten back by a disinterested damme. There is no way I would embark on such a foolish errand on Valentine’s Day.

My faith in Hallmark romance is long since subsided. A few considered words on the inside of a pre-printed piece of stiff paper, coupled with a box of Milk Tray and an uninspired red rose, simply doesn’t go any way to guaranteeing a positive result. Chances are, unless one has already explored the hypothetical possibilities of a relationship, or are indeed already engaged in a relationship, with the object of one’s Valentine greetings, the offering will go to waste.  And as a consequence, crushing disappointment will ensue, and despair emerge victorious.

I believe in love, and demonstrations of affection. Something about the ‘grand gesture’ that is inherent in our understanding of Valentine appeals to me too. But, I’m a realist. Valentine is a one-sided day as far as I can see, with men being the ones making the gestures. Certainly I have no expectations of an admirer to emerge from the shadows for my benefit. And so, disgruntled, I say ‘Stop it’. If your relationship depends on this one day to thrive, then there is something wrong with it. Be happy with your spouses, partners and squeezes, but spare a thought for we uncoupled ones, because nobody else does.



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