By Sarah Rogers
I am going to come across as crotchety now, but I believe I have a valid point. Before I go forward, I’d like to start by saying that I used to be quite partial to Valentine’s Day, as both a single girl and as a girlfriend. When single I would use it as an excuse to go out with my friends, looking sexy, winking at boys. It was fun and frivolous.
When in a couple, it was a much longer drawn out affair. There may have been some (subtle) hints made to the man in question. I would take hours to choose a card for him, make sure I look extra pretty all day and looked forward to some special surprise weekend away, or at least a posh restaurant dinner.
Then gradually over the years, I found myself turning into one of the many Valentine’s monsters. This day turned me into someone who became increasingly resentful if I didn’t receive a beautiful card from my beloved. Then there’s the rows between couples who can’t deal with the pressure of trying to make this one day make up for any unconscious resentments that may have been simmering for the previous year. Worse, I am a little ashamed to admit that there was some unconscious oneupmanship amongst friends. The questions would keep coming. So what are you doing? Where are you going? What did he buy you? Oh didn’t he remember? Oh you might have a surprise later? Oh you didn’t get any flowers? I did…
I can remember when I went off Valentine’s day, and that was seven years ago. I became so stressed out that my unreliable boyfriend of the time was very late, that by the time he finally arrived I was a panda-eyed crying mess. His excuse? He was hanging out with his mother and her friends (which turned out to be truth). But the damage was done. Every year I remember how my feelings could run away with me due to one silly day and now I can quiet the beast within.
I am pleased to say that this year I saw the date on the calendar and could barely raise a shrug of the shoulders.
Part of my ambivalence comes down to living in modern times. The current phenomenon is now to strip an ancient festival down until it barely resembles its original meaning, and them bombard it with crude advertising until everyone has fallen under a spell and is repeating the mantra “the more money I spend the better time I will have”. Commercialism is ripping the heart out of Valentine’s day.
I am not the only one who things we’re all going a bit too far in the pursuit of a romantic dream? Valentine’s Day is a microcosm for our obsession with trying to throw money at things in order to get what we want. But (most) hearts can’t be turned by a mere fan of banknotes.
According to Grazia magazine, the Office of National Statistics says that one in three women are now single at age 35. Maybe those women aren’t that interested in the blatant commercialism either? Maybe they would prefer all the targeted Valentine Day’s marketing and emails telling them of a new film they might want to see, preferably about bloodthirsty alien monsters, or a new Zumba class to join.
So Monday will come and go, and I’ll have a normal day. I won’t be sad, but I might be a little bored, and I certainly won’t be going out for an overpriced dinner surrounded by hearts and flowers. But I won’t be pandering to commercialism or rowing with anyone.
See you at Zumba.