On Valentine’s Day

Perhaps we might invent a holiday that torments single people and makes them feel isolated and alone. Wait, we already did that with Valentine’s Day. I think marriage was invented so that the vast majority of people would not have to worry about getting a date for that day, or not getting flowers, or not going dancing, or not giving away chocolates. The pressure is always on during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Single people are tormented by the endless parade of happy people, their flowers, their heart-shaped balloons, their romantic dinners, their Valentine’s Day cards. What if you don’t get any? And romantic music is like a stake in the heart for a vampire. For those lucky folks who find themselves paired up during the Valentine, the holiday in mid-February is a wonderful time to love stuff, but for those folks who have recently broken up with their significant other, every loving couple is only another reminder of their own loneliness and failure. Every Valentine’s Day party, every bouquet of roses, every couple dining in a romantic setting, is a reminder of their own solitary condition. This is supposed to be happy occasion, and for many people it is, but the irony is bitter, difficult to swallow because solitude is the only part of the human condition for which there is no solution, unless it be other people. I don’t know which part of Valentine’s Day I hate most–the stuffed bears, the bunches of balloons, the red, frilly hearts, the roses, the chocolates, or kissing couples. The clich├ęs are not endless, but they are repetitive, and they are boring. People in love just make me sick. In another lifetime I might not have felt this way, but the years have tanned my hide, so to speak, and any romantic bone that I might have ever had has long since petrified, cold and unfeeling. Yet, this strange red and pink-hearted holiday is about an ideal after which most of strive at some moment in our lives. Our crushes, our loves, our obsessions all come home to roost on Valentine’s Day when we remember, perhaps ponder, our emotional attachments, the loves of our lives. What most bothers me about Valentine’s Day is how the multi-national corporations that sell Valentine’s Day have turned a sweet, emotional fun day into an out-of-control consumer nightmare of buying and splurging and spending. One is delinquent if one has not bought a diamond or chocolate or roses or lobster or mink or electronics or whatever. Since when is love about money and spending a whole bunch of it? I am often disappointed in my own culture’s inability to find meaning and value in something without attaching a monetary value to it. Savage consumerism has wrecked this holiday, and there is probably no way to save it from unbridled spending and uncontrolled materialism. Materialism is the dialectic opposite of love, which is a self-less emotional response to another human being. Things, stuff, can only get in the way, and are often the cause of so many break ups. Perhaps love can only survive Valentine’s Day when it is not controlled by a capitalistic market that is marked only by dollars and cents. Diamonds are not the solution to Valentine’s Day, but real emotion might be. Valentine’s Day, the way it is sold in stores, is fake, phony, a waste of time. Valentine’s Day really only exists in the heart, and that is the only place where it will ever be found.