One of the things that I love about America is that we have a holiday for everything. We have holidays that celebrate gluttony, drunkenness, greed, and vanity (among others). I’m okay with all of those, and Woo! Hoo! for us. But the one I hate the most is the one that celebrates uncomfortableness. Valentine’s Day makes everyone uncomfortable: No one gets through it unscathed. Particularly un-attached women. (Oh, and I just read this: Kids are no longer able to give out those goofy-cute Valentine’s cards. They have to give out non-specific “Exchange Cards” and everyone has to give one to everyone else. Yeah, that’s pointless and uncomfortable: Much like romance itself.)
One of my many (many) former jobs was as a receptionist. Probably the most useless, yet thankless, job on the planet. The worst day of the year is Valentine’s Day. Box after box of chocolates, giant Teddy Bears (which require a walk-of-shame to someone’s office just to get them out of the reception area), and bunches, upon bunches, of semi-dead roses appear; none of them for you. It’s hard not to become judgey, just like all women do with engagement rings: Small ring, small…(well, you get where I’m going).
And, then, the worst thing can happen: An arrangement arrives for you – but it’s that small, mostly Carnations and Baby’s Breathe (which smells like cat pee and is paired with the carnations so that the cloying smell of the carnations covers the stink) arrangement with the tiny Mylar balloon on a stick which when you finally read the card you realize that it’s from a girl-friend who only sent it because she doesn’t want you to feel left out. She’s usually married.
Though filled with flowers and chocolates, Valentine’s Day stinks.
With this positive attitude, I went shopping for a Valentine’s gift with my friend, Princess Drinky Drink. She wanted to get something (ya know, som’im som’im) for her current boyfriend. Asking a women to help another women pick out lingerie with her is as though she’s forgotten that we’re women and how awful we can be to each other (let’s talk swimsuits). I went, but only because there was a free lunch involved.
Upon arriving at the lingerie department, my friend informed me that the only thing that winds her boyfriend’s clock is camouflage. What? Isn’t lingerie all about the fantasy: The Victoria’s Secret wings and stuff? Well, if the fantasy is of me (or a much, much younger version of me) capering through the forest in my scanties, then don’t I want him to find me? And not shoot me?
After making her selection (yak!), she went on to buy camouflage sheets. Satin camouflage sheets. So what now? What is the purpose of this? Isn’t the whole point to get my intended to my bed? Is my bed now hiding in my house in some weird, shiny sort of way? This seems counterproductive and exhausting.
But it is for all of this that I turn to the wisest man I know: My Henry (my father). And, yes – not in a creepy way – he knows everything I need to know about romance. Henry only has a coupla days a year that he marks on his calendar (he gets a calendar from the Church that includes the other really important ones). He marks the day after Halloween, the day after Mother’s Day, the day after Easter, and the day after Valentine’s Day. You see, Henry is a candyholic. All the really, really good sugary-goodness goes on sale the day after. He is a man who understands joy, love, and happiness: He knows how to get all of those into his life (perhaps in small, sweet ways; but nonetheless). So here is Henry’s advice:
No one bought you the velvet-heart-shaped-box filled with chocolates that actually make your teeth vibrate ‘cause they’re so sweet? No prob: They’re 50% off the next day. Buy ‘em for yourself and be happy. Eat ‘em all and feel joy. Put yourself in a sugar coma and love yourself for it.
I’ve said before that Henry is smart. He’s also my Valentine.