At the risk of betraying my sex, I’d like to put a big heart-shaped kibosh on the vast Valentine’s Day industrial complex. I like romance as much as the next gal, but in my sometimes humiliating experience, Valentine’s Day is more likely to sink a love boat than float it.
For starters, the fevered anticipation sets women up for unrealistic expectations, far beyond the ability of men who are still recovering from the Super Bowl. Once when I was single, my boyfriend dutifully anted up with the requisite long-stemmed red roses. I swooned with happiness, as I had been waiting twenty three years to receive long-stemmed red roses. Yet my happiness lasted only a nanosecond, because they were the saddest, droopiest looking rosebuds in the history of horticulture. In a moment of horrifying clarity, the roses became an omen: If they bloomed, I’d end up sporting a diamond ring. But if they stalled in the bud stage . . . well, that outcome was simply unspeakable.
With no other prospective boyfriends on the horizon, failure to thrive was not an option. In a Valentine’s Day-induced panic, I called a florist, describing the roses’ symptoms in detail. (In retrospect, no rosebuds could have bloomed in a small apartment where I had sucked up all available oxygen with my neurosis.) I attempted gardening CPR: clipping their stems at 45 degree angles, refilling the vase with water that was exactly 92 degrees (good thing I had a thermometer handy), and administering aspirin to the water, even though I was the one with the headache. If I had been offered roses on February 13 or 15, I would have enjoyed them for as long as they lasted. But because it was February 14, I worried myself sick over their condition instead. Is this any way to run a romance?
For women without significant others, February 14 creates a hostile environment unlike any other. They must bravely face down supermarket aisles bursting with pink greeting cards, chocolate samplers, and guys on street corners waving fragrant bouquets of flowers in their faces. True, women have never needed men to enjoy high-octane raspberry filled truffles. In fact, guys are often a nuisance during otherwise intimate chocolate moments. And valiant singles will simply pretend that February 14 is just any other day, no more significant than Fish Amnesty Day, while subconsciously stopping at Marshall Field’s for a new bauble before settling down with DVDs starring George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey.
Men don’t have it much better. For them, February 14 is a day of heart-shaped extortion, costing them roughly the same as the looming federal heist of April 15. Men are on the hook for a good dinner out (guys, this means a place where you don’t order standing up) and some bling-worthy jewelry, pending solitary confinement on the couch for two weeks. But men who find themselves in this sad state can at least take succor in their fantasy league baseball while their women cool off.
For my money, a man is at his most romantic when he is wearing something really sexy, such as a dish towel slung over his shoulder while he scrubs a pot. Diamonds may be forever, but so is the lingering memory of a man going mano a mano with a Dustbuster, neatening up the house before showering for his ladylove.
Candy is dandy, and jewelry looks cool on me, but I’d rather get them in March or July – just about any other day without an implied threat: Show me you love me, or else!
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