I'm one of those people who could never get over the forced nature of this Hallmark holiday. Even when I was someone's better half, I resented the day, and all the days of marketing foreplay leading up to it. They guys I paired up with wholeheartedly agreed (really, are there guys that wouldn't be relieved when their girlfriend says, "Please, let's not do anything for Valentine's Day"?).
Nowadays it seems most coupled-up folk my age take a low-key approach. As Wine Guy said on our very recent V-day bashing phone call, "Valentine's Day is for people 25 and younger." Not just because they're probably less jaded at such a fresh, young age, but because they have so few obligations that trump grandiose gestures of romantic love.
At 40, people have busy jobs, kids, night school...whatever it is that they care more about at the moment than a second-rate box of chocolates or a bunch of overpriced roses. Wouldn't that money be better spent on a babysitter for a date night when the restaurants aren't overcrowded with high schoolers and 20-somethings dressed in their uncomfortable best, eating rich food, and wondering if they're going to get laid?
But even though my anti-V-day philosophy is sound and secure, and has been for years, the coupled-up me was never able to entirely eradicate that one little nagging voice that said, "But shouldn't I at least get him a card?" Or, "What if he gets me something and I don't get him anything?" Or even just the knowledge that when someone with hearts in their eyes comes up to me and asks, "What are you and your honey doing for Valentine's Day?" my response of "Nothing. We think it's a bullshit holiday" probably won't be met with warm, fuzzy agreement. There I'll be, branded bitter.
During my 20s, being single on Valentine's Day wasn't as dreadful as the stereotypes floating around might suggest. I never felt pathetic or sorry for myself for being alone, but I wasn't all that happy about it either. It was just a day where I felt a little left out.
But last February 14, I felt a huge shift. It was my first solo V-day in some four years and I was pleasantly surprised to feel nothing but total and utter relief as the day dawned. My coupled-up peers were either overwhelmed with helping their kids finish their Valentine's cards for school or coming up with something to make sure their partner knew they were cared about, without having to expend too much of their dwindling energy to do it.
Me? I had a day entirely free of obligations and, worse, expectations. I was totally and completely off the hook.
This year I embraced the feeling even more. I woke up almost elated and had a smile on my face all day long. I wore my normal muted grays and blues, but threw on a pair of red knee-high socks beneath my boots and pants, which I would then expose with a playful smile to my coworkers saying, "See? I haven't given up!"
When I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home, I couldn't help but give a good-natured laugh at the people dutifully approaching the bins of rose bouquets and marching over to the register, looking relieved and tired after a long day at work.
Now I'm off to grab a few craft beers at my favorite dive bar -- the one with plastic chairs on the patio and a view of a parking lot. My greatest companion, my dog, resting at my feet. Now that's my idea of romance.
Happy Valentine's Day! Dismissed.