Contrary to popular belief there is nothing romantic about a New England winter, and I am therefore unmoved by any push to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is not life in some miraculous snow globe, it is a dull dreary garbage filled existence where sun is a commodity in rare supply. Think of the most romantic images you have of a city in winter. It usually involves steam rising from the ground as a lady in a fur coat tries to flag a cab. The reality is that this steam is the heat emanating from the shit that runs beneath her feet. The most romantic thing people think of is a women covered in the skin of a dead animal waving for a cab in a shit cloud. This whole time of year seems to have a patina of shit covering it.
It is Valentine’s Day. A wretched holiday designed to make romance a formulaic unflattering thing that everyone dreads. No one likes this holiday, and smart people tend to avoid it. I used to have my own celebration for this day, I would gather my friends and put on a Star Trek marathon. We would watch all the original movies, including the terrible ones, and bitch about our lives. Even when I had a girlfriend this tradition was sacrosanct, and anyone I was seeing at the time of the holiday who insisted we do something romantic for it would not last more than a week after it.
“But wouldn’t it be romantic to go out to dinner?” she asked
“No,” I replied, hoping that the fact that this was only my second ever relationship was not noticeable in my tone.
It was. Dinner was inevitable.
I was two months into a relationship and forced to sit at a restaurant far beyond my price range, and discuss “the future” of said relationship. A few girlfriend later I found out that this is not uncommon. The “romance” people are often dragged into on Valentine’s Day, is just a lengthy discussion about the their future or current standing, with some peppered romantic dialogue to confuse you.
“I think we should spend less time with your roommate, when we are out on a date,” she said.
“Why? He is hilarious!” I responded.
“Yeah, but don’t you think it would be more romantic if we spent more alone time?” she asked, in the least subtle attempt to suggest watching Comedy Central with my roommate till 3am did not officially qualify as dating.
“We have plenty of ‘alone’ time!” I stammered back, adding in the air quotes, as an even less subtle nod to her (and probably everyone around us as well) that I do not indeed have sex with her when my roommate is in the room.
“I don’t mean that,” she replied, noticeably upset, before ordering the most expensive thing on an already pricey menu, and asking, “Do you even give a shit about me?”
I hesitated too long. She probably sensed that, but ignored it. I broke up with her a few weeks later, over something trivial like her love for a certain sports team that I disapproved of.
There is nothing wrong with being romantic. There is, however, nothing romantic about Valentine’s Day.
This year my job decided that they would try to push the Valetnine’s spirit by bringing in cookies for us to decorate. I am not a 6-year-old, and therefore see absolutely no reason to participate in this useless fucking practice. I am, however, a glutton, so I took 5 undecorated cookies, and a glob of frosting to my desk to gorge on. In an attempt to illustrate my point, that ordinary beauty and romance is ruined when we try to focus on it, my company decided to cover the entire break room with confetti and glitter. The idea of surrounding perfectly normal and edible food with inedible microscopic garbage that by its very nature ends up in every bite is perfect symbolism.
Romance is not some lame greeting card, or bouquet of flowers. It is not a dinner out on a night that everyone does it, or some sort of jewelry that cost a fortune but is less worthwhile than the ring pop that I bought myself. Romance does not require you to discuss it. Romance is calling your wife when she is out of town for a few days to say “hi” or stealing your boyfriend’s sweater because it is more comfortable. Much of our confusion about this season comes from our youth.
At seven years old everyone in class had to make a valentine for everyone else in class so that “no one felt left out.” Which defies the logic of love. I am fairly certain I did not love Betty at this age, but she received a valentine from me regardless. People should feel left out. Learning to deal with rejection should be a huge part of this holiday, or life in general. I feel like there is something fundamentally wrong with being ordered to love everyone. I don’t recall being told on Mother’s Day that I should also make a card for my father and brother lest they feel excluded.
I am spending Valentine’s Day alone, and grateful, and if I had a Valentine that I could share this holiday with… that is to say, if the trains were running, and it wasn’t the worst fucking time of the year, and it didn’t require changing out of my Totoro Onesie… I guarantee you that our Valentines activities would consist of watching Star Trek, drinking whiskey, and perhaps an ethical debate about slashing the funding of a subway system that has failed to get me to work for a month straight.
I am not anti-love, and I don’t care if you spent all day covering your junk in rose petals because you think that is what your significant other wants. If it makes you happy more power to you. However if you are the kind of person who finds beauty in everyone getting a Valentine, or thinks romance is an expensive dinner where you discuss your relationship, then perhaps you are exactly the kind of person who enjoys winter. A person who truly loves a good shit cloud.