Despite articles like the above about Emma Forrest, single men are actually freaked out about Valentine’s Day just as much as women (Yellow was moaning about this quite a lot during our car ride). The fact that I feel it neccessary to engage with this conversation is a testament to the commercialization of holidays, and just how great social pressures are at making normally strong, stable, happy people think that there’s something wrong with them. As I’ve spent the last three weeks gearing up for Valentine’s Day and pushing through it, I’m actually feeling fine about it.
I’m trying to think what Jenn and I did last year for Valentine’s Day. Did we go out to dinner? No, I think I had a friend drive down from Wisconsin, and we went up to the top of the Tribune Tower and drank $10 martinis. That was really fun, actually.
The Valentine’s before that, I bought me and my buddy Julian each a rose (he was also single at the time), and cooked myself a nice dinner, as I recall.
My most memorable Valentine’s Day moment was when the guy I was dating had the local pizza joint cut up a pizza in the shape of a heart, and we sat in his car and ate pizza and talked outside the high school theater until my curfew. No jewelry. No cheesy cards. No mondo expensive dinners in places where I’d have to wear a dress. Just one of those, “Hey, we’re out tonight anyway. Oh, it’s this day, isn’t it?”
This year, I’ll be in New Jersey, and likely me, Sarah, Garret, and a bunch of the architects who are stuck out there will probably go out to dinner, get very drunk, and gossip about work – because that’s what we do when we travel.
What I think about Valentine’s Day is pretty cynical. I never much cared for the “holiday.” It seemed like if you had to tell somebody you loved them on Valentine’s Day, then you weren’t doing a good enough job telling them you loved them the rest of the year. It’s a great holiday for restaurants and luxery-item places to make a lot of money. It’s a great day for lazy guys to plan marriage proposals. It’s a great way to encourage single men to get drunk and hit on random women in bars who they otherwise wouldn’t be looking for and make women who are staying at home studying for the LSATs with a good bottle of Pinot Noir wonder if, indeed, there’s something wrong with them.
It’s a great way to get us all to buy crap we don’t need for people we may or may not care about, or people we think we should care about. And lots of couples use it as some kind of touchstone: if s/he screws up Valentine’s Day, that’s the end of it. S/he doesn’t really care about me. Life is Over.
Valentine’s Day is a lot like Christmas. If this is the make-or-break time for you and somebody you give a shit about, then you’ve been doing something wrong all year. And if you’re not around anybody you care about during this time, then you just do the regular thing and live – you surround yourself with whoever you’ve got, you go out, you have a good time, you celebrate life.
But then, you should be doing that every day anyway.