A while back I shared a tweet about an idea that I still think is pretty good
I once saw an article proposing the movement of Christmas to late February and I have to say, I see the logic in it.
— JoEllen Notte (@JoEllenNotte) December 7, 2016
I was perplexed when this response came in:
I mean, I guess I get it. I know I have certainly proposed more than my fair share of shopping for sex stuff around Valentines’s Day but still… So, why am I so grumpy about the alleged day of love?
Ok, yes, I have a lot of general reasons regarding the whole “spend a lot of money! people in relationships are better!” etc aspects of it but I got to wondering about why this one always feels so rage-inducing on a personal level. Well for this post I rounded up my Valentine’s Day memories and frankly, it became clear very quickly.
The Formative Years
At 13, raised on a steady diet of John Hughes movies I saw no reason why, in 8th grade, the crush who never, ever spoke to me would not, out of the blue, surprise me with some grand romantic gesture. As probably be obvious, this did not happen.
As I moved through my teen years (and an all-girls high school) Valentine’s Day continued much the same for me. Add in an exchange with my dad about how the February 14th scheduling of a school play was awkward because of how it would interfere with Valentine plans for him and my step-mom and Valentine’s Day (what I heard there was “as my child, you are less of a priority than this fake holiday where your stepmother requires dinner at a tacky restaurant”) grew into more of a pain in the ass for me.
In college, when my life in general would have been easier had I know that it was okay to be, well, who I am- a nonmonogamous person who likes their space- I always felt like a big, huge, conspicuous failure for not having a boyfriend and so Valentine’s Day was not my favorite. Watching young men run up to dorms with armloads of flowers (it was the 90s, I feel like this would be less of a thing now, if Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex is anything to go by) while I knew that a delivery was on its way for me and I’d be forced to explain to friends and roomates that it was from my dad (I miss him terribly but, man, do I wish he would have listened to my repeated requests that he not do that). Anyway, at that point Valentine’s Day was a big blaring reminder that (I thought)I was gross and no one would ever love me.
Add The Men (the ones who aren’t my dad)
Enter adulthood and my first serious relationship. I worked in the same place as my partner at the time and the first year we were together I (not entirely over my John Hughes fantasies), upon realizing I was working alone on Valentine’s Day while he had the day off, entertained the fantasy that he would bring me dinner and come keep me company. Instead, the night trudged on alone and I later found he had gone clothes shopping. At that point I accepted that the whole “loved up valentine’s day” thing was just not for me and I’d just as soon reject the whole thing.
So it was really awkward a couple of years later when the same partner decided that knowing my lifelong love of Christmas, that was too predictable a time for a proposal (I had fantasized about a Christmas proposal- I was a big one for romantic fantasies in my past life) and that Valentine’s Day would be too full of other people’s proposals so February 13th would be our day. That’s right, the day before a faux holiday that I didn’t like, all to prove that he was “original”.
I was done. But weirdly, Valentine’s day still had one last, really weird joke to play on me.
What The Hell?!
So, obviously I developed strong feelings for a boy. Let’s call him Brian (anonymizing is fun, no?). He had been in a band but then stopped doing that and was now working in some kind of office-y job I didn’t really understand. He was small and cute and one of several Brians I dated that year so was known to my friends by a nickname (The Elf – he had a Lord of The Rings tattoo. I like the geeks) He gave me all the feels and a month before I was set to move across the country I fell hard for this dude and he fell off the face of the earth. I did the bad stereotype girl thing and kept my phone with me constantly, hoping he’d resurface. Then, on February 11 my phone buzzed with a message from Brian. Brian who had been in a band but now wasn’t and instead had an office-y job I didn’t really understand. Brian who was small and cute and, being one of several Brians I dated that year was known to my friends by a nickname… the Scientist. Wait, what? Yep, different Brian. This was a guy who I had dated the summer before who had disappeared only to pop back up now. It was like a massive cosmic fuck up. Like the universe heard me ask for Brian the cute little guy who used to be in a band and delivered the wrong one. I took this as yet another Fuck You! from Valentine’s Day to me.
(Now, truth be told, Scientist Brian is lovely and I made a date with him for the 13th – because fuck Valentine’s Day- saw him several times before I moved and have since seen hime whenever I go back to Boston. Him getting back in touch was actually great but in the context of this story? Come on!!)
So, Here We Are
So since then I’ve stayed pretty much out of the Valentine’s Day fray. I post the occasional adjacent post. One year it was “hey, maybe don’t put a lot of pressure on it” but most year it’s “maybe I’ll have a bunch of sex, here are toys I like“. I try to ignore the fiasco that is Steak and a Blowjob day (can I go on record as saying that in my experience all the “pressure” to spend money on Valentine’s day feels like a made up thing that I have spent my whole life being told I wanted? Like the world likes to tell women “you are demanding this!!!” and then it invented a day in retribution for all the demanding we are allegedly doing) and basically keep my head down.
Now that I’ve written this out, I actually understand my whole Valentine’s Day thing better than I ever have. Of course I don’t like it! For me it’s only ever represented the feeling unloved, what other people wanted, and, because society, this free-floating idea that I, as a woman, love it and constantly demand tons of time and money be spent on me for it. So, that’s where I’m at. Valentine’s Day is a thing. Lots of people seem to love it (or at least participate in it) but it will almost definitely never be something I want to do anything but ignore. With that I say:
This post contains a link sponsored by Peepshow Toys. The opinions in it are, as always, my own.