February 14. Valentine's Day. Sappy cards, lovey-dovey cards, anonymous cards, silly cards. Long-stemmed roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, expensive dinners, maybe even diamond rings.
I am an avowed hopeless romantic and I for one do not much like Valentine's Day. I adore Christmas, Easter is nice, Mother's and Father's Day present a beautiful opportunity to express appreciation (are you listening, son?) and birthdays are the bomb (bring on the cake!). But a day devoted to love? And not just love, but romantic love?
1. If you're in love, every day is Valentine's Day. Or could be if you treat it as such. I would much rather be surprised with flowers or chocolate or a love note for no apparent reason on some random day than sit around hoping and praying for them to appear halfway through February. And that leads to ...
Oh, the pressure, especially on hapless menfolk with no propensity toward passion and poetry. If you buy a dozen long-stemmed red roses, well honestly you're just like every other schmuck in town. Can you spell UNORIGINAL? And what if you get a bad bunch? One year, when I was embroiled in a long-distance love affair, I was delighted (not) to receive twelve perfectly wilted, drooping, brownish-red blooms. They died the next day. I asked my beau (jokingly) if this was a harbinger of things to come? Well, gosh-darnit, turns out it was.
Or what if you send the wrong colour? I mean, who knew rose colours have meanings? Well boys, let's just assume your sweetie-pie does and you innocently send yellow (which I personally like way more than red) and you know what you just screamed at her? FRIENDSHIP! Ya honey, I just wanna be pals. Or maybe you choose white (my all-time favorite)? Goodness gracious you have just suggested PURITY. No hanky panky on Valentine's night for you, sweetheart. Of course you could go the other way and offer up coral, which apparently signifies DESIRE. Nice. As long as she doesn't slap you in the face with a tearful "But I thought you loved me?"
Seriously, the pressure.
There's also the pressure of choosing the right card. Okay, if we're being honest here the big pressure is buying any darn card, period. And then to make it the right one? What if it's too mushy and she's feeling frisky and light? What if it's too light and she's feeling mushy? What if it's too tiny and she likes big? What if you just sign your name and she was hoping for a personalized sonnet?
And then comes Valentine's Night. Whaddya do? Dinner out someplace fancy? Order pizza so she doesn't have to cook? Cook for her and risk botulism all-around? Take her dancing? Let her control the remote? The decisions are endless and the opportunities to screw up? Also endless. I remember the first Valentines spent with my darling (now ex) husband. The night before he was reading the paper and nonchalantly spewed "Oh hon, it's Valentines Day tomorrow. You wanna go for brunch or something?"
No I did not. Because I had bought him an amazing gift and an amazing card and I was expecting - well - something amazing. And he had not given it a moment's thought.
Like I said. Pressure.
And the pressure continues further if you factor in all the other people you could treat with a Valentine's surprise. Your kids. Your parents. Your grandparents. Your siblings. Your best friend. Where does it end? I swear you could bankrupt yourself on cards alone.
3. And then - what if you're single? Well, thank you so much for issuing a big fat reminder that I am alone and obviously unworthy of love. Alone and probably always will be because I am so pathetic. Alone, with not even the slightest hope of a wilted rose or tasteless drugstore chocolate.
Oh, does it sound like I know whereof I speak? Well ya, turns out I do. There was this one February (post divorce) when I was decidedly alone. However, loving love as I do, I chose to celebrate this day of love regardless and invited one of my best girlfriends to join me at a fancy bistro. The night before. Because obviously she would be spending Cupid's hallowed evening with her husband (she still had one, and a good one at that). We had a swell evening. We laughed, we drank nice wine, we ate fine food. And when we left I slipped on the restaurant's icy step, turned my foot around backwards on my leg and broke my ankle in three places. Yep.
Happy friggin Valentine's to me.
Which leads to another question - Why don't we have an acknowledged Single's Day? You know, celebrating those who are not romantically connected? Divorcees, spinsters, bachelors and in-betweens? We have days for teachers and secretaries and grandparents and apparently, lovers. Why not single people? A day where all the single adults give each other flowers and candy and stuff. Imagine all the extra cash Hallmark could rake in?
Just askin ...
So, with another Valentine's Day just around the corner, what's a girl to do?
I'm pretty sure I'm gonna cave, that's what I'm going to do. I'm gonna buy my sweetie a card and a gift and hope they are right. And then you know what else I'm gonna do? Sit around all day waiting to see what he's gonna do for me.
Before her recent move to Meaford, Vickie van Dyke has done it all – from singing and songwriting, to writing for newspapers, to performing on radio, television and live theatre.
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