Top Ten Reasons Valentine's Day Sucks...Coupled or Uncoupled.
Valentine’s Day started off for me badly. In 5th grade to be exact. My first boyfriend, Jay Taylor and I were "going together" (I am still not sure what that even means) and Valentine’s Day was looming. Gifts were going to be exchanged. It was a big deal. Turns out that this one day would set the course of many Valentine's Days to come.
My dad took me to the mall to get Jay a gift. I was completely out of my element. I did not know what a 10 year old boy would want...I really wanted to get him something that he would like. After hours of searching at the mall, I settled on a box of chocolate and a Cheryl Tiegs poster. Anyone my age will know what that means. If not, google it.
I was super anxious and worried about the day, the gift, Jay. I felt as though I was being forced into a new area of my life that I was completely and utterly unprepared for...um, that was because I was about to be given a really hard life lesson about a holiday that had heretofore been pretty ok.
Not only was I going to have to navigate the very choppy Valentine’s Day waters, as it turns out, I was also going to have to navigate the dark and murky waters of betrayal, loss and embarrassment.
Back in the 80s we had these things called Slam Books. (Google it for further explanation). Well, let’s just say that I was victimized by primitive social media...Liesl (soon to be a former best friend) changed one of my answers in her Slam Book and precipitated the end of Erin and Jay.
So there I am on Valentine’s Day with a Cheryl Tiegs poster and the most masculine chocolate I could find and I am, against my will, uncoupled on the eve of this omnious holiday. What is a girl to do?
Well, I ate the chocolate (that was easy) but what the fuck was I supposed to do with the Cheryl Tiegs poster. I did not want nor did I need a poster of some woman that was really old enough to be my mother half naked and smiling on my wall. I should have thrown it away but I spent like two weeks worth of allowance on that fucking poster and I just couldn’t let it go...so I shoved it in the back of my closet where I shoved all the other painful parts of my life that I didn’t want to look at...(my journals, mean notes from former best friend, a slam book, a bra that my grandma bought me that would fit in about 4 years). My cat was a closet pee’er so eventually he peed on that poster and it ended up in the trash where I should have thrown it to begin with.
What I learned about Valentine’s Day was that it sucked. I had blown all of my allowance, lost a boyfriend and a best friend on the same fucking day and then I got to feel like shit about myself while I watched all the other 5th grade couples have a lovely time. (There were more than you would think or should have been allowed). That is when I made the coscious decision to became a Valentine’s Day Naysayer. A spokewoman to rail against the Madison Avenue Machine manufacturing love and passion in a canned, trite and wholly sappy way. And I have remained loyal to that cause since regardless of whether I am coupled or uncoupled.
Over the years, I have had similar problems navigating the turbulent holiday regardless of whether or not I am with someone or not. I still hate the day. I hate it for a variety of reasons. I also realize that hating the day that is supposed to celebrate love, romance and hot sex does not reflect well on me.
But I do. Hate the day. Here are my top 10 reasons Valentine’s Day sucks with or without a partner:
1. I am opposed to all forced emotion days. I do not want Madison Avenue telling me when I should get drunk (St. Patrick’s Day), be romantic, loving and having passionate sex (Valentine’s Day), celebrate my administrative support staff (Administrative Professionals Day - which I fuck up and miss every year despite my deep and real appreciation for all they do for me), or celebrate former presidents (which I really do not care about but am grateful for the day off work - thanks George and Abraham!).
Let me digress a minute...
Do you know that the following are all forced, made up holidays just in the month of February?
Spunky Old Broads Day - February 1st
Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day - February 2nd
Create a Vacuum Day - February 4th
Wave all of your fingers at your Neighbor day - February 7th.
National Lost Penny Day - February 12th
Singles Awareness Day - February 15th
International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day - February 23rd
National Tortilla Chip Day - February 24th
Public Sleeping Day - February 28th
I shit you not...
The list is actually much, much longer. Again, google it.
Despite my interest in several of the above days, I do not want to be told when to celebrate tortillas chips. That is something that I have attempted to do daily for years!
2. Having a holiday where we are supposed to feel something that on the particular day may prove impossible, and in turn often makes me and others feel shitty. What are you supposed to do with yourself on VD when you have all this love and passion to give and no one to give it to? I have tried it all and while I have found some decent substitutes (random strangers, my children, my parents), VD is about romantic love which is wholly inappropriate with any of the populations I just mentioned.
3. Expectations! So many expectations: what to give, what will I receive, what should I wear, roses (red roses), chocolate (good chocolate), how much to give, where to make reservations, will it be so crowded that I will just hate my life, that whomever I am celebrating with will be able to make up for the hugely disappointing first VD. Way too many expectations that, to me, make it doomed before it ever arrives. I just don't need the pressure!
4. Pressure. OMG! The pressure of all the expectations, mine, yours, society at large, my friends, your friends, social media posts. It feels like a lot. Count me out!
5. Sex. Either I am not having it or I am supposed to be having it. Not having it is easy - that blows. Especially when I pretty much can believe that everyone else is having it...pretty lonely. Having it - that also blows. I have just returned from eating a huge meal after eating my weight in chocolate all day and now I am supposed to put on some sexy lingerie and make mad passionate love to my partner. I don’t know about you but I do not want to do that. I want to put on sweatpants and curl up on the couch and not have anyone touch me until my body is done processing the awesome amount of food I have ingested. I want to make mad passionate sex when I haven’t eaten in several hours or days and my tummy is flatter and I feel sexy. A full belly is not a good start for me.
6. Gifts Received. There is a long list of crap that I do not want on VD. Any type of stuffed animal - I am grown ass woman, I am not 10. Bad chocolate - bring the Godiva or don’t bother. Flowers other than roses - VD is the day for red roses, anything less seems like a commentary on the relationship. Crappy jewelry - if it isn’t something that I would wear - save the money. I mean has anyone ever seen me wear anything with a heart on it? NO. Never gonna happen.
7. Gifts Given. What the fuck are you supposed to buy a man for VD? Plush bears with cheesy messages - I can’t. Chocolate - maybe but I am more likely to eat it before I get a chance to give it. Flowers - no man I have ever dated wanted or really appreciated flowers. Jewelry - no man that I have ever dated wears jewelry or would want to start. So this brings me back to lingerie - which circles back to the problem outlined above...that no man I have ever dated wants to see me in lingerie after the smorgasbord of crap that I have eaten on this day.
8. VD is a day that makes a huge population of people feel like shit. There are all these people running around being thoughtful, or at least trying to be, and if you aren’t a couple, then you are out of the loop. Not included. For some, it is a lonely day. I can’t ever feel good about that no matter which side of the day I am on. If I am alone, then, well I feel alone and lonely. If I am couple, then I feel like shit for all the people out there who are feeling lonely and depressed that no one is interested in all that they have to offer. I am opposed to days that are, by designed, destined to leave a huge chunk of humanity out.
9. Fear. This holiday in particular induces a feeling of fear in me. Maybe it is my PTSD around the very traumatic (I am being sarcastic) first VD I had. But seriously, this day makes me fearful. Not just for myself. I always worry about what it going to happen. Are all my friends going to have a good day? Will this be the day that so-in-so’s man pops the question (she has been waiting for like 10 years)? Will this be the day that the loser that my other friend has been dating for way too long, dumps her or just epically fails her...again? Am I going to wake up with this pit of loneliness that despite years of therapy that I am not going to be able to shake? Am I going to spend the day talking a girlfriend or boyfriend off the VD ledge? Again, I against all holidays that engender this kind of emotional carnage.
10. Finally, VD sucks because it is canned. Phony. A sham. It’s like FB for love and passion. Everyone feels compelled to run around and share about how awesome their day was (when in reality it is usually never as awesome as their posts, tweets or texts say) or that the day sucked and their posts, tweets and texts demonstrate how very much alone another human being feels in acute reaction to all the professed love and adoration that is going on that they are missing out on. Who needs it?
I have had two really good VDs though. The first was when I was young and single in Washington, DC. I decided to throw an Anti-VD dinner for all the single ladies. I made a reservation for 25 at one of the swankiest places in the city. It was harder than you think to get that reservation! The restaurant was pretty nervous about taking up 25 place settings on VD. I think they were also very confused about what they were going to do about the odd number - I mean how could their special meal for two work out with 25? Make no mistake about it, I was delighted that there was an odd number of us...
So my besties and I got all dolled up and hit the town, dateless. We made an entrance that made all the dining couples jealous, we laughed our asses off and had the best damn time, we also looked beautiful. And for that dinner, we were among people who loved us and out in the world where I am sure there was someone that wanted to sex us.
The best part of the entire night was when all of our male friends showed up at the restaurant and serenaded us. They brought us each a red rose. It was amazing and the restaurant erupted in applause. The single ladies owned VD. Thank you very much.
The night ended with one of my very cool but very odd male friends giving me a poem he had written about me. It was totally inappropriate but it totally made me feel wanted, hot and amazing. Thanks Justin! (I still have it somewhere...)
Second best VD was last year. On the heels of my heartbreak with Lane. I was DREADING the VD. I thought about calling in sick because I just didn’t think that I could make it through the day in Montecito. I mean it seemed really unfair that I would be forced to drive by his home AND work just to make it to the office. I wasn’t sure that I had it in me. But I soldiered on and made my way into the office. I can’t reveal all the backstory but I received a call on my drive in that resulted in me being told the following: That I was to go to this fancy boutique on Coast Village Road and buy whatever I wanted - the sky’s the limit. Are you fucking kidding me? No man has ever said that to me: Go Shopping. Sky’s the Limit. Needless to say that I had a very, very, very good day. An awesome and undisclosed amount later, I didn’t give two shits that I was alone and heart broken on VD. Turns out that sometimes retail therapy does work!
So what is my point in all this talk about the perils of VD. My take away:
I love love and passion and hot sex. I dream about it. I think about it. I want to give it, receive it, drown in it really. But it is not something that I can manufacture or buy or consume or even pretend. If it isn’t authentic, it really doesn’t matter and isn't worth all of the hullabaloo.
So this VD I am armed with the knowledge that I am opting out of all the drama and trauma. I am going to get my hair done and celebrate with making myself feel better. I am also going to open my heart to all the celebrating people: to those happy couples, I am going to send them joy and gratitude for the hope they provide for the rest of us. To all the single people, I am going to send them love and kindness, the kind that only someone who feels your pain can. To myself, I am going to allow VD to be just another day that I get to work on my feelings of less than, worthiness and love for myself. Hell, I might even give myself a huge box of Godiva that I will even share with my kids. That sounds pretty fucking loving...