Anti-Valentine's Day does not equal anti-romance.
Even on Valentine's Days when I have someone to share them with, I've always been a little cynical about this holiday. It's just as commercialized as Christmas, but it's easier for me to become annoyed by Valentine's Day because it often feels forced and - let's face it - tacky. Boxes of chocolates decorated with ruffles. Giant teddy bears that don't match the decor in your apartment. Plants inside of balloons.
According to history.com, "the history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition."
My contention is that once upon a time in a greeting card company of yore, some executives in the marketing division had a conversation that went a little something like this ...
Marketing executive: Our greeting card sales drop off after Christmas and don't pick up again until Easter.
Another marketing exec: What holiday can we introduce in the middle of our lagging months to increase greeting card sales?
Yet another marketing exec: We need a holiday that makes people feel like they have to buy something for someone else. It needs to be something that would cause women to get angry if their significant other were to forget ... like anniversaries.
The first marketing exec: Isn't there a Saint Valentine-someone-or-other?
IT'S NOT that I don't like receiving a gift on Valentine's Day. Nor do I sneer at those who rejoice in celebrating it. And it's not that I don't like romance. In fact, I love romance. When a woman says she doesn't care about receiving flowers or jewelry, she's generally lying to make herself appear cool, nonchalant and laid-back. In that right, romance-ophobia is similar to homophobia. The people who claim to fear or despise it are often the ones who internally crave it the most.
IT'S that I don't like the levels of expectation that are written in the fine print on February 14. Instead of receiving flowers, heart-shaped earrings, giant red teddy bears that look out of place on my bed by March, or chocolates that will go straight to my hips on a day imposed by consumerism, I'd rather receive some flowers, dinner at a secluded table in a dark restaurant, a funky pillow or candle that matches my home decor, or chocolates that will go straight to my hips on a random day for no other reason than that I had been thought of.
Being told that I am loved by someone who loves me because Hallmark says it's necessary on a certain day stifles the spontaneity and surprises of unscripted romance.
Maybe some people need reminders because the people they love aren't reminded enough. Maybe Valentine's Day is often a disappointment to me because the flowers, chocolates and teddy bears fail to define the fanciful vision of love tainted by flighty knock-your-socks-off, take-your-breath-away, sweep-you-off-your-feet notions. Maybe my expectations are too great. Maybe I don't expect enough.
It's that crazy little thing called love. A few years ago - around Valentine's Day - I found an editorial in an issue of Vibe Magazine that was all about that crazy little thing. I tore out the editorial and saved it in my book - the one in which I paste articles, short stories, poems, postcards and photos from magazines or newspapers that I have liked over the years.
I don't remember what year it was, and the article isn't dated, but there's a full-page advertisement on the back of the page for the DVD Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of The World, a documentary "featuring appearances by Billy Crystal, Lennox Lewis, James Earl Jones and many more! Includes rare archive fight footage and exclusive interviews with Muhammad Ali." So whatever year that was.
Happy February 13!