Like most of you who find yourselves in relationship and thus feel obliged to acknowledge this “holiday” with some sort of gesture or statement (e.g. buying flowers for your loved one or mutually agreeing to never do anything on Valentine’s Day, ever, because it’s all a massive commercial ploy to part fools from their money), as a self-important blogger I feel compelled to write a little something about this day.
So be perfectly clear, all I feel towards Valentine’s Day is total and utter indifference.
Let’s review the facts, shall we? At least as they pertain to me, because I love talking about myself.
I’ve never found myself attached to another person when this time of year rolls around. I’ve had a few relationships over the course of these 29 years, all of which happened to be rather short-lived. Notoriously noncommittal, I’ve never managed to see a love affair through past the six month marker.
Maybe it’s a flaw in my nature. Maybe it just means that my taste in men is shit.
But no matter — while I’d like to meet that special someone eventually do the whole love thing, there are bigger fish to fry right now. Like making it big on the Internet and snapping up a book deal.a
Almost thirty, and the closest I’ve come to a date on Valentine’s Day is grabbing lunch at a dinky vegan restaurant by NYU with a classmate. We went dutch.
Valentine’s Day was de-romanticised for me from an early age. I first came across the occasion as a seven-year old girl in Cairo. My parents had fished me out of a rigid Islamic all girls school and enrolled me in a co-ed American elementary school — veritably a whole new world. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, everyone in my class of sixteen was to make cards for every other member of the class.
Democratising Valentine’s Day in this manner is customary in the US. I suppose so that the ugly and unpopular kids wouldn’t feel left out. Which is very nice, but once you even a playing field, you rob the game of its allure.
Sure, I got a couple of slightly more thoughtful cards from two or three of the boys who “liked” me back then. These extra-special Valentines — the most memorable being a non-traditional multi-coloured heart proclaiming me as “the coolest girl [he] know[s],” or knew, as it were — are tucked away in a velvet-lined box in a corner of my parents’ basement. That box contains an array of other sentimental and deeply embarrassing memorabilia from my childhood.
As I grew older, the Valentine’s Day was de-democratised. That’s right — that’s not a typo. Instead of everyone receiving the same number of cards or gifts or what have you, most of us didn’t get shit. Maybe a few of the prettier girls received mysterious packets from secret admirers, but I, for one, got nada.
Teachers can’t cajole a surly teen into crafting home-made cards for their peers, particularly the ones they despise and ridicule. To boot, I had moved schools once more, this time to a far less touchy-feely, Anglo-fied institution, so that could have had something to with how hardhearted everyone seemed around me. Not to act like my teenage self was some wistful romantic, yearning for love letters that never came. I most certainly was not.
Our young adult lives utterly void of romantic developments, my group of girlfriends saw Valentine’s Day as a juicy opportunity to indulge in some self-inflicted irony. I mean what else could you do?
One friend of mine, let’s call her Bahir (not her real name — that’s too ugly to be a real name, and if that’s your name, I’m super sorry) was particularly into the arts and crafts opportunity Valentine’s Day represented. Freshman year, she made hearts for each of us, with little photos of the various boys we were crushing on contained therein. Each heart, cut from lined notebook paper, had a border etched out in red and blue marker. A copious amount of glitter finished off the look. The one she made for me went straight onto the bulletin board in my then hideous all-lilac room, and stayed on there for about a decade.
Having never, ever been party to an earnest romantic gesture on this particular day during the span of my adult life, one would expect me to be a committed Valentine’s Day Hater. I suppose I could spend this evening sobbing into a flannel blanket as a Sandra Bullock rom com plays on Netflix in the background. But I don’t think it’s in the cards for me — at least not tonight.
I’ve often speculated whether you can miss or yearn for something you’ve never experienced. I’m not sure how applicable that concept is to the human experience — I kind of think it’s bogus, because the poor want money and the sexually inexperienced can still feel lust. But as pertains to this annual occasion, I’m of the opinion it applies to me — I’ve never had a real Valentine, and at this point I can’t imagine what that would even be like. Participating in the fanfare would just strike me as ridiculously cheesy and completely out of character. But…can I hate on anyone for wanting to do exactly that? Ummmm…I’m not sure it’s my place.
So while those forced to participate in the hoopla against their will can bemoan the consumer-driven, inorganic nature of modern-day Valentine’s Day, and some fun-hating cultures may opt to ban V-Day outright, all I’ve got to say is: “meh.”
- I can dream, can’t I? (back)