I was twelve years old when I had my first Valentine’s Day experience. My boyfriend and I were to exchange gifts at my locker between classes, and the only reason I’d even gotten him something was because I’d been tipped off that he’d gotten me a gift. That gift, as it so happened, was a pug stuffed animal and a box of chocolates accompanied by a card declaring his eleven year old love for me. When I handed over my gift, two boxes of Sweetheart candies and an accompanying card with similar declarations of love, he was disheartened. He hadn’t yet learned the art of playing it cool and had noticed that he’d spent a considerably larger portion of his allowance than I had. It was middle school, I wasn’t making a lot back then. Even at twelve years old I was annoyed by this interaction. I didn’t mean to spend less than him, but I also didn’t care how much he had spent on me. (And, let’s be honest with eachother, how much did that pug really cost? C’mon.)
I can’t be completely certain, but that entire Valentine’s Day exchange may have been my saving grace; the thing to keep me from being a person who avidly, painstakingly cares about February 14th. And it is just a date, though I can’t blame you if you’ve been duped by it. For years and years, it has masqueraded in red and pink flowers, hearts, diamonds, fancy dinner plans, all to fool unsuspecting people into thinking that it was really a thing. It has effortlessly fooled couples into slaving away to put on a good performance on this single day of the year and has tricked single people into thinking it suddenly matters more that they’re alone than it would have on, say, February 13th. That’s quite a power to harness for a single date on a calendar.
Valentine’s Day derives from various tales of martyrdom, and was only celebrated for love and romance in the 13th century when people concluded that February 14th was the first day of mating season for birds. And like Halloween before it, we as a civilization have taken a day that meant something completely mundane and mutated it into something kind of… well, worse. And not only that, but it has, in turn, made people feel sad and dejected. I mean, to the point where a movie called How To Be Single is being released on Valentine’s Day weekend, because they are hoping to prey on all of the single ladies in the world womp-womping around because they don’t have any plans.
That’s the funny thing about Valentine’s Day. It’s supposed to be this day about love, right? The priest (Saint) Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II and continued to marry young lovers even though marriage had been outlawed in Rome (because single men made better soldiers than married men, natch!), only to be caught and executed for his crimes. Love, right? He died for love! I guess!
So I still put my love to use. Romantic love isn’t the only love, you know. And it’s the far more elusive form of love in my life, anyway. Instead, my dad has been my Valentine for the last few years, because he’s pretty cool and sometimes he sends me flowers that show up a day late, because why wouldn’t they? On Valentine’s day, I choose to revel in the card my Nana picked specifically for me, and the little candy that she attached to it. I choose to swoon over my dog because she’s really fucking cute and she loves me back no matter what. And I choose to set up dinner plans with a group of girlfriends because the power of female friendship is beyond measure.
Getting drunk on pink wine and guacamole with a bunch of friends are the plans you wish you had last Valentine’s Day. And there might be a friend or two who will drink too much and begin to lament about better V Day’s gone by… let them. Order more wine for the table, eat more carbs than you’ve eaten in the last month, roll your eyes at all of the loved-up couples sitting at the surrounding tables (because, ugh, PDA). Get drunk! Throw condoms around the bar! Swipe your Tinder (or Hinge… or Bumble… or OKCupid, if u nasty) screen with reckless abandon! I’m telling you, these are the makings of the best February 14th you’ve ever had. Trust.
Valentine’s Day is only real if you believe it. So I choose to put it out to pasture with all those other things people tried to make me believe were real, like velour track suits, Ed Hardy in general, “meninism”, Windows phones, rainbow-colored armpit hair, and YOLO (wishful thinking).
Just set a reminder for the morning of February 15th. You’ll probably have a headache from all the rosé you were drinking, but those recently discounted heart-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups aren’t going to eat themselves.