The following is the only piece essay I ever specifically wrote for Valentine's Day. It appeared in the February 9, 1994 issue of The Gleaner (it was a weekly, thus the reason for the somewhat early printing date), and despite the fact it was a little clunky and more than a little over the top (I've resisted the urge to update/edit it), it was one of my favorite pieces that school year. I apologize for the one Philly-specific reference in the piece, but what do you expect from someone going to school right across the river from there.
It's coming soon. The only event more predictable than this is the release of a new Jason movie every time a Friday the 13th comes along. It is not human. It has no feelings. It is unstoppable. It's, it's... VALENTINE'S DAY! Noooooooooo!!
Okay, maybe Valentine's Day isn't that horrible, but it's still pretty bad. By far this holiday has to be the most ludicrous, insipid and inane ever to come down the pike.
In the past, I felt this way because I didn't have someone special to share the day with me. My "celebration" of this sugar-coated, rose-scented, jewel-encrusted, cherry-centered holiday usually involved dressing in black from head-to-toe.
Furthermore, it always amazed me that the number of single men and women jumping off bridges didn't rise drastically on this day — after all, is there a better way to remind someone who has no one in his/her life about how alone and miserable you are are than Valentine's Day?
This year is different. For the first time in years, there is someone with whom I can express my heart-felt feelings with flowers from FTD, chocolate in a heart-shaped box from Godiva, jewelry from Robbins' 8th & Walnut, lingerie from Victoria's Secret and party favors from Condom Nation.
Did I mention how the flower, candy, jewelry, and naughty-bit clothing shops are packaging and selling this day just as furiously as retailers sell Christmas? Before, I never quite realized how relentlessly the sales pitch from these companies bombard you.
Now, it amazes me that there are not more men in serious relationships jumping off bridges on this day — after all, is there a better way to remind some man that he can't and probably never will be able to afford the two-month salary that the Engagement Ring Council recommends on TV?
Truthfully speaking, I could do without this holiday either way. I love my girlfriend and tell her this constantly. These feelings don't intensify just because the Earth happens to occupy a particular location in its orbit around our sun.
I'm then left wondering what makes this day that much more "romantic." Well, it's certainly not the weather — it's kind of hard to have romantic walks down by the lake when the lake is frozen and your nose is frost-bitten. Furthermore, unless you're the IRS, I doubt that the fact that this is tax season gives you that "special feeling." The only thing I can think of is that advertising executives do such a wonderful job of hyping this day up.
I say this because those blasted advertisers have done their job. Even though I have already told my girlfriend how I feel about this day, I plan to go out of my way to make that evening very special — complete with gifts from FTD, et. al.
The advertisers have brought me down to their level.
Maybe I can push a few of them off a bridge.