It’s probably not a good thing to read “Happy VD” in a friend’s status update and think, based on their general tone, that they’re referring to venereal disease (which can be many things, the least of which I suspect is happy). Valentine’s Day is one of those concepts that provokes divides akin to red state/blue state – yer either fer it or agin it. People in love use it to shower their special somebody with gifts and affection. Single people decry it as a Hallmark holiday and bemoan the cringe-inducing cheese of cutesy heart-clutching teddy bears and diabetic chocolate overdoses. No matter your take on February 14th, we can probably all agree that in a world whose history has been defined largely by how much we hate each other’s guts – and finding new and inventive ways to take out that frustration via ever more powerful killing tools – it’s nice that we can still devote one day out of the 365 (or in this year’s case, 366) to celebrating the idea of love. On February 15th we can go back to pissing all over the douchebags – just give it a rest for twenty-four hours, please. And yet it still seems that the majority of what you’ll read about Valentine’s Day is penned by misanthropes who feel especially entitled on this day of all days to vent their contempt about ex-partners, abysmal dates or the fact that they have no partner at all. They’ll portray it as a vast conspiracy of impatient family members, bachelors/bachelorettes, the greeting card industry, chocolate makers, Kenyan Islamofascisocialists, Republicans and the military/industrial complex (because those guys are always behind everything) directed specifically at making their lives miserable. In the ultimate of ironies, snark flows more freely today than love. Not exactly what the secret cabal of Illuminati, Bilderbergers and Commie-Nazis who came up with Valentine’s Day in the first place had in mind when they forced this nonsense upon us.
Look, I’ve been there. I was Forever Alone Guy. And yes, it sucks being the only single person at the table. You can argue that it’s is an artificial holiday, the date picked to ameliorate a slow retail season between Christmas and Easter; well, it’s not like nature notices the difference and remembers to create an especially beautiful day, she was planning on doing that (or not) anyway. You can carp about the in-your-face syrupy public demonstrations of affection, the dreadful Sarah Jessica Parker “comedies” Hollywood rolls out during this season and the abundance of red and pink heart-shaped paper cutouts stuck all over your supermarket cashier’s kiosk that are not, truly, shaped like actual human hearts. What puzzles me is how the purveyors of such cynicism think they’re unique, that they’re the very first to vent such incisive wit for the world’s bemusement. How soon we forget that we heard all of this last year, and the year before. I very well might have been the one making those points in the late 1990’s. But I can admit that I was wrong, and that I shouldn’t have let my gloom about a lack of successful romantic escapades rain over the proverbial parade of those souls lucky enough to manage to connect amidst the random permutations of the universe.
For many of us, Valentine’s Day is actually special. Not because society told us it should be. Because like Captain Picard, we made it so. VD wasn’t anything remarkable for me either, until I decided to make it the day I proposed to the wonderful lady who became my wife. Had she said no, I might have had a new reason to hate it – as it turns out, I was one of the lucky ones. And that is sort of the point – what else is a holiday, at its core, other than a celebration of one’s fortune? Even the single are fortunate – they are alive, healthy and free, and many are clearly very gifted with words.
My suggestion is this: let’s have an anti-Valentine’s Day too. We could stick it in the middle of August, say on the 23rd, when it’s hot and sticky, the Back to School sales are in full vigor, the political conventions are happening and love is the furthest from anyone’s mind. Hallmark can stock “To My Scumbag Ex” and “Never Liked Your Rihanna-Loving Ass Anyway” cards, frowny-faced teddy bears and Cupids with their heart arrows shoved where the sun don’t shine. It can be a day when we let our dogs befoul our loud neighbour’s lawns and cut each other off on the highway with no road rage reprisals – an occasion to let the finest examples of man’s contempt for his fellow man shine forth like so much radioactive waste. And all the eternally single bloggers and columnists can use it to spew forth their laments for their failed attempts at romance to their heart’s discontent. But please, for the love of love, leave Valentine’s Day alone.