I have spent the majority of my life disliking Valentine’s Day. Hate might be too strong a word, but more times than not, the dreadful holiday has been various shades of pathetic or lonely for me. At best, it is a day that I have simply chosen to gloss over and ignore.
In high school, I had my first “real” boyfriend. I was so excited to finally have a special Valentine that I let my expectations rise. On the big day, he presented me with my long-anticipated V-day gift halfway through the school day. It was a photocopy of a picture of his head, cut out and glued onto a photo of his favorite rapper (MC Hammer, to be specific). It was so romantic, yo. I think he was trying to be funny. But I was so let down that I bawled my eyes out in theater class in front of everyone.
Another year that stands out in my Valentine’s Day repertoire is when my recently-split-from boyfriend sent back the V-Day care package I had mailed him, unopened. Ouch.
I have spent far too much time being single on Valentine’s Day-- curled up on the couch with my cat watching romantic movies on Lifetime, and feeling sorry for myself that I couldn’t have the love they had on screen. That glorious, can’t-live-without-each-other, kissing-in-the-rain, running-in-slow-motion-on-the-beach, ever-elusive, long-sought-after, perfect true love.
So Valentine’s Day became just an excuse to let myself eat chocolate.
When I moved to New Orleans, it got a whole lot easier. Here, Valentine’s Day is not only overshadowed, but pretty much entirely swallowed up whole by Mardi Gras. No one makes as big a deal of it in this town because they’re too busy going to parades and eating king cake to worry about candy hearts and $70 worth of roses. Most of the annoying red and fluffy merchandise in the stores is replaced by the festive purple, green and gold we all love so.
So to be honest, I got over Valentine’s Day. Gave up, perhaps. But in any case, I stopped caring. It became almost a non-issue, a mere blip on the screen of unhappiness. Working as a server, I’d have to wait on canoodling couples out on romantic dinners or put up with people carrying bouquets of flowers that I would never get … but it didn’t bother me anymore. I became immune – aloof, unaffected.
And then … something happened. Something I certainly didn’t anticipate. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I got myself a new boyfriend. As in a real live, Facebook-official, exclusive, sparkly “New Relationship”. For the first time in ages (and Lord help me, I mean ages), I will not be single for Valentine’s Day this year.
So now what?
I have spent so much time in the anti-Valentine’s-Day camp that it seems a little bit hypocritical to suddenly change my tune. And yet, how do I pass up the opportunity to finally take advantage of a little long-absent romance on International Love Day? Other folks have gotten to do it. Isn’t it my turn now?
I feel a little bit like a vegetarian who has spent a lifetime preaching about the disgraces of eating animals and now I suddenly am presented with a plate full of bacon.
Bacon is good. Shouldn’t I partake?
What exactly do you do when the thing you love to hate suddenly becomes something you want to love?
Ah, love …
It would be easy to simply look past the controversial holiday yet again this year, especially as it’s in the wake of Mardi Gras once again. Perhaps he and I should do something low-key. Just make it a movie night for two. With chocolate. But minus the self-pity. And then again, since this is the first chance I will have in far too long to really enjoy Valentine’s Day, part of me feels the pressure, the obligation … of making it a big deal. The all-out romantic hoopla. Rainbows and puppy dogs.
But I also better not get my hopes up too high. I’ve been let down before. After all, it is Valentine’s Day. A pink and red cesspool of disappointment.
I told the boyfriend that I wanted to go on a romantic dinner cruise on the river. All hearts and flowers and open bar and buffet. His response? “Well, I’ll have to sleep on it. I will be spending a lot of money that time of year so I am not sure what I will be up for.” Oh no, here we go again. Another Valentine’s Day crash-and-burn in the works. The trend continues. But then, at least, he added, “But I definitely want to spend it with you.”
Okay, fair enough. Maybe I’m still slightly better off than in years past.
Forgive me, Valentine’s Day, for all the smack I’ve talked about you. Perhaps we can still be friends.
If the boyfriend gives me photocopy art, though, I’m going back to my cat.
Update: Exactly four days after this article was posted, the guy broke up with me. At our Valentine's Day dinner (though we actually went out the day after to avoid the crowds). At a nice restaurant. Right before dessert. With my friend, who is a server, waiting on us. So much for being on good terms with the Big Day of Love. Stabbed in the back again ... by Cupid's pointy arrow. Oh well, there's probably some great Lifetime special on this year, and the cat still doesn't have plans.