Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beyond Chocolate and Roses

I have never been a fan of Valentine's Day. Yes, I'm sure it's fun for a few googly-eyed lovebirds, but for most people it's a time of tremendous pressure. Guys, for instance, are obligated to get something bigger and better than last year, following a gifting rulebook that often makes their eyes bleed. For example:
1) no blenders
2) no cordless drills
3) no lingerie that makes her look fat
4) no beer
5) no drive-through
6) if it's jewelry it has to be at least 20-carat gold and no less than 2 carats in weight because that's what Mary Jane Bismarck next door got last year so it has to be bigger and better or else are you listening to me why are your eyes bleeding?
7) keep the receipt
Men are under such stress that often they sit staring at the tv for weeks, watching the last vestiges of football season fade to black, frozen until the last possible minute before they rush out and buy the first box of chocolate-covered cherries they see.
Women worry mostly about finding that dang receipt before it goes through the wash and they're stuck forever with that lousy gift of love.
I once knew a very snugly couple who had been living together for about 5 years. She kept hinting to her beau, we'll call him 'Pookie' since that's what she called him, that she wanted to make it permanent. One year, just before Valentine's Day, he asked her if she preferred gold or platinum. She was thrilled, telling everyone that Pookie was finally going to 'pop' the question. Instead, Pookie proudly presented her with a lovely platinum blender. So she could make her widdle Pookie his energy shakes. I don't know what happened to them after that, since she made us all leave, then locked the door. But I think she found a new use for the blender. We never saw Pookie again, but her rose garden looked fabulous.
A very stressful situation all-around for people in relationships as well as those without. Singles, on the other hand, have to worry about the obligatory feeling of soulful loneliness, which can be entertaining in the proper setting, such as with a beer and a country song. However, a lesser-known, yet more ominous threat lies in the form of the sneak-attack date. This is when someone asks you out right before Valentine's Day so they have a date for Valentine's Day.
A sneak-attack date is usually committed by someone who suspects that you're looking forward to being alone with a beer and a sad country song and wants to ruin your plans. Somehow they make it sound like no one should be alone on Valentine's Day, that it's your civic duty to go out with them. This is part of the reason that when Ground Hog Day hits, I hide, hoping to avoid a sneak-attack date. There are many things worse than being alone on Valentine's Day. A date like that is one of them.
As a grown-up, Valentine's Day is the closest I get to prom date jitters. Flashback to my 16th birthday. A huge gift box. I open it and out spills a puff of red and white lace and chiffon. "What is it?" I ask. I was hoping for a new saddle blanket. This is NOT a saddle blanket.
"It's a dress," my mother replies excitedly. I wear jeans and flannel shirts. Nothing against dresses, but they tend to get caught in the double clutch on the tractor.
"A what?" I ask, looking for the receipt.
"A PROM dress," she clarifies right before I pass out. I had never even gone out on a date. I had been asked out, but since I never knew what to do when they asked, I usually just stared back at them until they withered away. That didn't go over well, and now I had a big stupid fluffy dress and a mother fully expecting me to grow breasts and social skills in two months. Cupid, shoot me now.
So how do we turn this carnal carnival around? How do we make it less about forced gifting and more about love? Why not think outside the box of chocolates?
Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers, it's for the loved. We have quite a few service men and women who could use some thoughts and thanks. A single white carnation, a thank-you note, a hug, an email....anything. So get off your butt and go love somebody. Just not me. I'll be at the barn.


Kristina said...

I share the pain. When I don't have a boyfriend, I tend to try to act like the 14th is just another day. One of my personal resolutions is, if I get a guy who doesn't know what to get me for Valentine's Day, that I'll just tell him. Seems easier. :)

Annie said...

kristina - it's not just another day. And it's not just about lovers. It's about love. If it's not in your life right now, toss a few carnations and hugs around and call it a day. Certainly better than faking it with the wrong person for fear of being alone, right?
True love can't be planned, forced, or faked. It must be inspired. It must be honest. And a single day will never contain it.

Jerry's Birthday said...

Oh Sage One - clearly speaking from experience and a heart that has been through he!!. We love you Annie, and your wisdom - please keep writing, so we may all commiserate with each other !

And learn from you, as well !

Anonymous said...

wise words, Annie - spoken as if you have known great heartache. I hope that you are inspired very soon!