So, it's done. It's over. It's behind me for another 364 days.
But whatever could I be relieved over? What's passing prompts passion enough to pedantically post? Why, Valentine's Day, of course.
No sooner has the gleam and glitter of Christmas had even a moment to dull than the creep of corporate-clad candy bleeds its morbid red across stores large and small. Like plague boils, stuffed bears of every size, color and shape erupt amid heart-shaped sappiness, each with its own nauseating scribble of devotion, be it poems that no doubt put acres of the mentally challenged to work, or prose declarations having the emotional sincerity of an inmate attending court-ordered rehab. Like buckshot, the day after Christmas the seeping of next quarter's earnings pricks the shelves of stores nationwide, then, like an unattended wound, floods every nook and cranny conceivable to the eye. From warehouse displays making profitable use of lawn and garden centers, to blooming like mold around convenience-store displays (where you can find a card just as big as your love right next to BootyMasters Monthly).
Yes, I am how the other half lives. Either you're single in the United States, or you're not. Perhaps a small percentage lives in a brief period of deliciously angst-ridden ambiguity about their realationships, not having a clear idea of their intents and desires until the next Sandra Bullock or Meg Ryan romantic comedy provides direction, but otherwise it's one or the other.
So I see the ensuing hemmoraging of guilt as a cultural reminder for couples to assure their others they don't take them for granted, or purchase a brief stay of reprimand and consequence if they do. That's how I see it for couples. For singles, Valentine's Day is a delightful reminder to not take your lonliness for granted. You earned it.
Long gone are the days of gradeschool, wherein everyone received a valentine. Everyone was indocrinated to believe they and everyone else deserved one just for being. What that really was, was an introduction to kinderpity. As the years wore on, and the cupcakes went from homemade, to store-bought, to fresh from the mark-down bin; as the bags of lacy lollipops and confection hearts (stamped with come-on lines so awful only the most socially inept of first-graders ever put any of them to the test) went from carefully-counted and wrapped assorted foils and tissues of internal bleeding reds and blood-in-your-unrine pinks, tagged with personalized to's and from's, to brown paper grab-bags of dollar-tree cheap, sugary and remotely heart-related; as the years wore on and the polygamous orgy of grade-wide valentines whittled down to callous monogamy, the expectations of youth were stones piled high around ones heart, that collapsed in the hormonal seas of adolescence. Raised to believe you deserved a valentine, one day the reality that someone has to want to give you a valentine arrives just in time hasten the evisceration of your self-worth.
Every Valentine's day is saturated with the color of a freshly-fought battlefield, and don't think for a second that's an accident. For us singles, every rejection, a valentine that might-have-been, is stuffed with caramel, or almond nouget, or peanut butter, a Whitman's sampler of failures of worth. No one will give us the pleasures we never will have. Every failed relationship is the bouqet given to someone else. Every word of recrimination from an ex masquerades as the soft, fuzzy representation of a viscious, carnivorous mammal. Like your ex, it's best to play dead and hope they'll lose interest. Even break-up sex is no better than the gold-colored plating on a gas-station trinket hastily snatched up in a moment of relational horror at forgetting to soothe one's partner that one doesn't take one for granted: one turns your skin green, the other your soul.
Every Valentine's day is carefully crafted to refresh the wounds that might've (silly you) grown into twisted scars over your self-esteem. Aisle upon aisle of crimson regret, of gold-trimmed failure. This Valentine's day, your own breaking wind is the only sweet nothing that might whisper in your ear.
Don't take your lonliness for granted, singles! You earned it. Somewhere in a heart-shaped universe is everyone who chose to leave you. They reside amid the countless who never thought you worth the bother to begin with, as countless as the hairs on an insipid bear. Perhaps, in the days to come, you can court tooth decay with that discounted candy. Like your long-gone lovers, plague will leave a delightful hole behind. Don't try to kid yourself, if you're sad enough to buy yourself a card. That message wasn't crafted for you by some lonely, if possibly feeble, sloganeer hoping agaisnt hope to make contact, but for those so emotionally out of touch thinking that some smarmy phrase best captures what they feel, perhaps because it captures that same feeling for 30 million other people.
You've earned your distance from the rest of humanity, so enjoy it. Your lack of interpersonal skills set you apart, literally. Jesus may have come to save all humankind, but saints don't have to be so generous. They're allowed to be picky, and it would not do to offend St. Valentine. Thus for one night a year your satin sheets will turn into sackcloth, every stuffed bear you touch will shed handfuls of hair in the presence of your emotional Hiroshima, and champagne will turn to bitter herbs in your mouth when you toast your singlehood. It would be best if you simply slit your wrist on those roses' thorns.
But then February will offer up the 15th. Vanlentine's day will be tossed into bins at half-off, about as much as your self-worth a mere 24 hours ago. The bright nosebleed of commercial romance will cease, and slowly scab over, and fade like a crime scene, or Shannon Doherty's career. You'll be allowed 364 days to forget, barring holidays, which would be so much richer if you had someone to share your memory blacking-out drunk with, that every bit of your measure in our society is dependant upon how much another values you. You'll see nary a bear as they wander off to hibernate, curled up around their noxious prose. The mentally challenged will go back to packaging light bulbs, and doing a real day's work. You won't have to worry about seeing roses, as they rarify to anniversaries and apologies. Tossing your socks anywhere, and leaving your laundry unfolded will once-again become an enviable mark of freedom, instead of a cotton pile of shame.
You've made it through another Valentine's day, and next year you'll have grown into another person, one who can face the Valentine's next knowing you're older and less unattractive than you are right now. Perhaps we'll all luck out, us singles, and a liberal administration will start a new entitlement program, one wherein the government sends everyone in America a valentine's card. If they can subsidize corn, and sugar, I see no reason why romance can't be covered under Medicare, and self-worth get a matching contribution from employers. 364 days to go!