So—since I seem to be able to peer at Valentine’s day from a safe distance, I thought I’d give a third party perspective of the Valentine’s Day dilemma. For whatever good that might do for the health of relationships—both foreign and domestic.
For years, I’ve heard bits and pieces of complaints from wives and girlfriends about what a neglected holiday Valentine’s Day is. For some reason, the 14th of February just isn’t treated with the respect that it rightfully deserves. What, with being a celebration of the life and martyrdom of the great St. Valentine and all.
On the other hand, men at various times and in divers manners gripe to me about Valentine’s Day being a conspiracy between Hallmark and the Babysitters Club. A perpetual battle of expectations in which there are no winners—only losers and quitters. Some have taken it upon themselves to battle Valentine’s Day like the bubonic plague on the payroll of the Russian mafia. A few misguided souls have gone so far as to also turn their bitter wives into artificial haters of Valentine’s Day as well.
Which is unfortunate, since St Valentine was a pretty good guy from what I’ve heard.
This puzzles me, because from my perspective, I think Valentine’s day is a gift to men. Easy points.
In fact, it’s like getting points for the shots you took during the warm up.
True, women expect something at Valentine’s Day. She expects it even if she says she doesn’t. She expects it even if she says “just save your money.” She expects it even if she’s not in the same state as you. Pretty much, whatever she tells you about Valentine’s Day, don’t believe her.
She expects you to do something. And that’s a bummer.
But here’s the gift part. Usually, romance is kind of like ice skating: you get technical points, and you get creative points. But in the end, it’s the creative points that matter. You could have all the technique down, land all your jumps, nail your spins, be skating at all the right speeds, and still be the little girl crying on the podium at the end of the day if you aren’t creative. Heartfelt. Convincing. If you didn’t pick the right music and put your whole soul into it, you’re probably going to lose.
That’s why we call it romance and not chess. The rules change every time. The pieces move differently every time. The judges love you sometimes; hate you sometimes. The crowds will forgive some major mistakes if they like your passion and your style, but they will not forgive boring.
That’s what makes Valentine’s Day such a gift.
You get a creativity pass. The date is already on the calendar. The stores are bloated with ideas. Greeting cards jump out and bite you when you walk down the aisle at the grocery store. Flowers.com has two dozen red roses for $24.99. Chocolate is sold in heart shaped boxes in all shades of pink and red. You can buy a teddy bear at a gas station. For men who completely fail to plan, they even offer child care at a local gym. And if you are hard up for things to say, you can get inspired by pre-printed messages on Necco hearts.
While, yes, there is a bar there that they do expect you to get over, it is set really, really low. Fail to get over it, and—well, that just puts you in a very small percentage of incompetent losers that get stuck on a speed bump. If you don’t do anything despite all that help from retailers, then, frankly, you deserve the wrath you are likely to incur. You are in a callous subset of loveless creation with cockroaches, pit bulls, and black widow spiders. Some would argue with me regarding the pit bulls.
So why are you fighting Valentine’s Day? If you’re looking for something to fight, fight muscular dystrophy. Fight child obesity. Fight racial discrimination. Fight extinction of panda bears.
But don’t fight Valentine’s Day. It’s a fight you won’t win and you will forfeit all of those easy points.
So…that’s my advice. It may not be of much help, but at least I can have the satisfaction of knowing that I did my part to make sure St. Valentine did not die in vain and that his cause is being championed by the noblest of men in the most predictable ways.