We come to love not by finding a perfect person but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
-Sam Keen, To Love and Be Loved
Photo credit: Hope Bailey Photography
Valentine’s Day is a stupid holiday. I know this has been repeatedly trumpeted by every internet cynic, but do we really need the calendar to tell us when to celebrate our significant others? This cheesy, over-hyped, over-commercialized, heteronormative celebration of love/lust really frosts my cupcake. It’s just an excuse for advertisers to shake you (typically men) down to meet the sky-high expectations of what is supposedly required for you to be a good boyfriend/husband/partner/ whathaveyou. Now I love me some candy, but goofy teddy bears holding hearts and flowers that will just die in a few days and stink up your kitchen aren’t really my style. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person whose style that is, but I don’t really get out much I suppose. Let me tell you some stories.
I can appreciate the idea of Valentine’s day. Showing your significant other that you care in a way that is more special than normal. I just don’t think we need candy hearts and cheesy cards to do it. Even my husband, the big romantic that he is, doesn’t really like the holiday and trust me when I say he is super into the cheesily romantic. I really only recall one time we went all out with a big Valentine’s day celebration. Rather, my husband, then my boyfriend, went all out and I was just an unsuspecting participant. This was back when we were still poor and in college, and thought we had something to prove. Well anyway, I got back to my second-floor dorm that evening to a card on my desk. I don’t remember exactly what it said but there was the normal gushy stuff *cue eyeroll* and then an instruction to put my jacket, hat, and gloves on and go outside. So, I got dressed and opened my door and there on the floor was a chocolate heart. Don’t worry, it was wrapped. Dorms are disgusting. I bent down, picked it up, and already knowing where this was going, I began to look for the next one. I followed a trail of chocolate hearts to the stairwell and down the stairs to the exterior door, where his crappy car was idling at the curb. Even this early on, he knew that I was always cold. In the passenger seat was the rest of the bag of chocolate hearts, because even though the trail was very sweet, he knew I would care more about the fate of the remaining candy than I did about optics. We went out to dinner to a cozy Moroccan restaurant and laughed hysterically when he ate a whole cube of butter that he thought was complementary cheese. We were not very cultured in our early twenties. Still to this day, we cannot figure out why there was a Moroccan restaurant/hookah bar in the North Country of New York. But it’s a fond memory, not a hastily purchased card or the overdone candy and flowers. This also brought about the realization by both parties as to how very easily I could be kidnapped.
The point is, it wasn’t special and romantic because it was Valentine’s Day. It was special and romantic because I wasn’t expecting it, because we both really enjoyed each other’s company, and because we didn’t have to eat elbow to elbow with a bunch of slobbering couples at some crappy Sweetheart dining experience. We don’t need to celebrate Valentine’s Day because not only would we never be able to top this year after year, but we don’t need the holiday to tell us when to show love. I don’t intend that to sound braggy, I just mean that being reminded by commercials four weeks ahead of time of the impending high-pressure romance isn’t really that romantic. The feeling is now completely manufactured because it’s Valentine’s Day. You can do a fraction of the work any random day of the week and be ten times more romantic than giving some cliché Valentine’s gift. But I’m also, what’s like a nice word for cheap?….uh, frugal.
I’ll give you an example. Last year sometime, my husband and I were driving home from visiting one of our sets of parents (this was about a two-hour drive) and decided to treat ourselves with a stop at Dunkin’. It was cold out, so my husband let me sit in the car while he went in and got hot cocoa. I waited. And played on my phone. And waited some more. And started writing a grocery list in my head. Not that the service at any given Dunkin’ would be considered award-winning, but it took him so long to return that the residual heat was wearing off and I was beginning to regret my decision to not go inside. When he finally returned, I asked what took him so long. Turns out he had been negotiating the purchase of one single blueberry cake Munchkin with a very confused cashier. Much like the cashier, this probably makes no sense to you but it meant the world to me. Since it was the middle of the afternoon, he knew I would be wanting something sweet but having just returned from family we were, as usual, stuffed to our gourd. He ended up having to purchase three Munchkins (big spender, I know), because that is apparently the smallest quantity of Munchkins you can buy. Just in case you were wondering. I’m not usually a donut person, but blueberry cake donuts really hit the spot sometimes. And my husband knows this. For those of you wondering why he wouldn’t just buy me a donut, my husband also knows how guilty I’ll make myself feel if I have a donut (or any sweet really) when I know that I shouldn’t eat a whole donut even when I want one. Or, in this case, don’t know that I want one. It’s basically the sweetest thing that anyone could do for me, getting me something I’ll want in a way that preempts any future guilt associated with it. And it only cost him one moment of thought and approximately fifty cents.
I know this has been more sweet than seething, so here’s the rest of my rant. Screw those guys! The candy companies who charge more for pink wrappers, Hallmark with their overpriced clichés, and all the jewelers who will tell you that if you aren’t buying them a diamond whatever that you must not care about your [insert type of significant other here], they can all take a long walk off a short pier. I’m just a cynic and a cheap-o but I know what’s real and what isn’t. I don’t need a calendar for my husband to show he loves me or an advertiser to tell him how. He shows me every day, whether it’s getting up at five to let the dog out so I can sleep five minutes longer or trying to buy me one single Munchkin. And just to be clear and so you don’t think we’re some fake Instagram couple, he also drives me nuts. But that’s the way it should be. Happy Regular Day to you all.