Where to now, St. Valentine?

V.D., as it is known in some circles, tends to leave me cold as a cod. Five years ago, I made this observation:

I never have had much use for this particular celebration, and it's not just because my mailbox is emptier than Charlie Brown's. Certainly I don't claim to be immune to romantic delusions. But the whole idea leaves me shuddering. If I am fortunate enough to find someone to love — and, even less likely, to find someone to love me — shouldn't I want to celebrate it every day?

Then again, Michele, who is more fortunate than I in this regard, doesn't much care for the fourteenth of February either:

Have you ever been that kid in class who got three valentines while everyone else got 20? Have you ever sat home crying in your beer and eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's while burning pictures of your ex? Then you know. You know how Valentine's Day only causes pain. Even for the guys who have a girlfriend because they feel they can't live up to the expectations that the media has set for them as far as presents go. For the girls who have a guy, it sucks if they have been watching some woman-centered morning television show where some guy pops out of the audience in a tuxedo on Valentine's Day and gets down on his knee and begs his girlfriend, who is a grip or stagehand or something, to marry him. And then Katie Couric sends them on a trip around Manhattan in a horse drawn carriage and the snow falls gently on their heads as he puts a diamond ring on her finger and....well that's not reality for everyone, folks. So don't think it's yours. Valentine's Day only serves to get your hopes up and then have them crashed down on top of you by the end of the night when all you got was a kiss and an offer to let you watch while he plays Grand Theft Auto. Any other day of the year that would have been good enough for you.

What I find most frustrating about this is its apparent invulnerability to treatment — well, that and the sheer impossibility of shoving all this into the background where it belongs. Over the past few months, things have picked up markedly for me, which I attribute mostly to having one particular psychological burden — the one which says "My life sucks because I live in a farging hellhole" — lifted once and (presumably) for all. I hesitate to suggest that I'm in a state of contentment, but I can't deny that my life seems a lot less desolate today than it did at this time last year. Still, there's this one void that isn't going to be filled.

This is a fairly busy time at work, so I won't be dwelling too much on the topic during the day, and I don't think it will be necessary to try to drive it out of my mind by, say, renting Reservoir Dogs. And I can console myself, perhaps, with the knowledge that when there is no relationship, there can be no painful breakup. But sometimes I envy those who have given up on the whole idea: at least they have something else to think about during this horrible week of pinkness and perversity.

The Vent

#376
8 February 2004

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