Okay, so can we agree that no one even really likes Valentine’s Day? No one? I never, ever hear people sitting around going “Oh, Valentine’s Day. I love it so. The stale chocolate, the overpriced banal dozen red roses, the crowded restaurants! There’s just something so magical about this time of year, you know?” No one ever says that. Not even the seventeen year olds who have been dating for four months (he even came over after Thanksgiving to meet her parents!) and who will probably totally be going to prom together. Everyone, however, sits around and eats chocolate and moans about how a) they aren’t dating anyone and they’re never going to find true love, b) they are “totally against” the concept because it is so contrived and commercialized, c) their boyfriend is planning to go to the big sumo wrestling tournament that night and so they’re not going to be together, d) last Valentine’s day their boyfriend broke up with them and the pain is just too fresh, or e) their boyfriend never does anything for them anyway, the bastard, so he better make good this year, because, seriously, you guys, the way things are going right now, they don’t even know if they want to be with him anymore, you know?
I know that when I was single (which would be, you know, most of my life) I got into the “But if I had a boyfriend” thing around this time of year. I used to think that If I Had A Boyfriend he would totally make me dinner and then plan some sort of exciting love-themed thing. Like…going on a walk in the park to watch the sunset! Going to a schmoopy movie! Giving me flowers! Really imaginative hard-core romantic stuff like that, you know? And now that I have a boyfriend, I’m not into that kind of stuff at all. I mean, we go on walks all the time, and he cooks me dinner with a very pleasing regularity, and we go to the movies all the time. Those things are fun, in a low-key kind of way, and they’re very comfy and sweet. I like that stuff. I just don’t see why you have to wait until Valentine’s Day to do it, I guess. I’m old fashioned.
There really is a lot of pressure, though, for some people. And I did used to get a kick out of telling everyone how bitter I was and how much I hated boys and that no one would ever love me. My high school used to do this weird thing where you could buy carnations for people, and then on Valentine’s Day you’d get to go up to the breezeway during lunch (because I went to the kind of school that had breezeways, you understand) and tell them your name and then get your bouquet and then walk around with it for the rest of the day. The joke here, of course, is that you didn’t know how many you were going to get, and so there was all this suspense, and you’d go up all trepidatiously and tell them your name and then the girls who were handing out the bouquets would go looking for it and pass over the gigantic clot of thirty flowers that had its own plastic bucket of water, it was so big, and then give you your weasley bouquet of five, one of which was from your advisor (because I went to the kind of school that had advisors and not homeroom teachers) and one of which was from the dean of the school (dean, not principal) and then the other three were from Your Friends Manya, Marah, and Ashley. And you had to be pretty grateful to have five, because everyone in the whole school got at least two, from the advisor and the dean, and that was almost worse than just not getting any at all because when you walked around with only two, it was like walking around with two carnations stamped with LOSER and HERE. Whereas if you had five…well, those other three could have been from anyone, right? Could have been from some other boy at a totally different school who no one at your Snooty Prep School even knew about but who was so cool that he gave you carnations on Valentine’s Day anyway. It never was, in my case, but I tried to give the impression that it could have been. I don’t think it worked though.
So, yeah. Valentine’s whatever. Carnations, bitterness, boyfriends, breakups. I personally am going camping this weekend with my Valentine. The trail we’re taking involves, and I quote verbatim, “fording a bone-chilling river.” If that’s not true love right there I don’t know what is. Fortunately for me, there’s a hot springs on the other side of that bone-chilling river, and you know all the great love stories are based on proximity to a hot springs, right? Well, that’s not true. Some of them are based merely on proximity to a hot tub. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I still maintain the real joys of Valentine’s Day are the heart pajamas and flip-flops at Old Navy. I can totally get behind a holiday based on those.