I have an idea. Let’s invent a national holiday based on pagan fertility rituals, only let’s name it after a third-rate Catholic saint so nobody objects.
Let’s use our holiday as an excuse to strong-arm well-meaning yet bewildered men into buying ungodly expensive boxes of chocolates — of which the only good ones are the creams and the cherry cordial — and to selling cards. Lots and lots of cards! Soft-focus ones with T. S. Eliot-worthy poetry in drippy script on the inside — “How can I say my love so dear?/ My heart rejoices when you’re near./ My greatest gift from heaven above/ has been the gift of your sweet love.”
Dirty cards (heh, heh! Old women talking about sex!). Cute cards with snuggly cartoon characters. If we can sell diamond tennis bracelets and long-stemmed red roses too, well, all the better.
Best of all, let’s use this lucrative holiday as a sort of mass-distribution atomic wedgie for single people.
Have I mentioned Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday?
Sure, it’s a good excuse to eat candy (I especially enjoy the ultra-modern variety of conversation hearts, the kind with Casanova-slick phrases such as “WEB SITE”) — but so is anything, including 4:18 p.m., wearing pants and a bullish stock market. And it’s fun to get valentines from your friends, provided they don’t think it’s funny to sign “Your Secret Admirer.”
But honestly, how dumb an excuse for a holiday is this? If you’re in love, you’re too spaced out to care what day it is anyway.
If you’re not in love, you’re sitting at home feeling like a pathetic shut-in with three heads, or you’re shrilly and theatrically mocking the opposite sex with your single friends, or you’re making awkward small talk with your date — whom you aren’t in love with and may only be dating because of desperation, pity or faulty avoidance methods and continually thinking, “S/he may be a bore/moron/know-it-all/psychotic serial killer/slobbering hornball, but at least I’m on a date.”
And then going home alone, or going home for some perfunctory, probably awkward and emotionally unfulfilling sex, because after all, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Gee, what fun.
I think the only people really enjoying themselves are the ones truly, mutually in love. So maybe six percent of the population wakes up Feb. 15 thinking, “Hey, that was fun!”
Really, unabashedly single is the way to be this time of year. Well, madly in love is the way to be, but most of us aren’t that lucky. Once you take care of the three-headed shut-in feeling — which can often be cured by flipping through your mental Rolodex of people you could be so unlucky as to date — you can treat V-Day as just another day of the week, albeit a day your roommates have all gone out to dinner with various dubious specimens of manhood/womanhood.
With the right attitude, it’s just another day, a day when you don’t have to explain to some staring stranger what your major is and why you chose it and how you like the place you’re living and whether you’ve been to this restaurant before.
Or listen to their poorly scripted monologues on seg fees, alcohol-related exploits, video games that are just sports without the health benefits and how cool/sensitive/misunderstood/awe-inspiring they are. Or form pseudo-Chinese characters with the silverware because the clanking noises break the silence. And then eat a meal chosen to send the message “Check out my sophistication/lack of pretension/girlish self-denial/impressive table manners!”, not, “This is what I like to eat.” And then figure out who’s paying the bill.
See, wouldn’t you rather be nestled into your couch with a good book? Turn on Three Angels for the comedy stylings of the red-haired lady, put on pants with a drawstring or elastic waist and sigh a sigh of liberty.
OK, so that’s not so realistic. Mental Rolodex or not, sometimes nothing can take the place of a person, however far removed they are from the man/woman of your dreams. Solitude has its benefits, sanity maintenance topping the list, but only up to a point. We are social animals.
That’s really my main beef with Valentine’s Day. People who aren’t alone rarely get anything out of the holiday they wouldn’t get otherwise (I’m talking useful things like love and fulfillment, not dutifully mushy cards). People who are alone spend the day wearing invisible headphones that shriek, “Love is everything! Why don’t you have any flowers?” on a continuous loop.
How about this: we declare another national holiday, one that also falls on Feb. 14. The Feast of St. Damian, patron saint of single people. Traditional holiday garb will be sweatpants. There will be no sanctioned cards or gifts. You’ll get $2 off a large pizza with proof of singlehood. Friends will gather around the piano to sing traditional Damian carols such as “Love Stinks,” “Better Off Alone” and “Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms.”
But the central and best-loved tradition of St. Damian’s Day will, of course, be The Mocking of Couples.
Accompanied, in especially festive circumstances, by The Throwing of Rotten Fruit at Couples and Laughing at Their Cries of Disgust.
Now that’s a holiday I can get behind.
Jackie May ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in English.