Monday, February 14, 2005

Love Is In the Air....Or Something Like That

Happy Valentine's Day! My friendly radio voice-over gal for our local grocery store Pavillion's informs us that back in the days of Roman emperor Claudius I (I think -- don't quote me on that), he refused to let young men get married believing that it would create better soldiers. A young priest, Valentine, began secretly to marry young lovers. Of course, once the nasty Roman emperor dude found out what was going on, he had Father Valentine thrown in prison in readiness to be executed. In the last letter to his own loved one, the good father signed it, "From your Valentine." Thus, St. Valentine's Day was born.

Now go and buy a nice bottle of wine, encourages voice-over Pavillion's lady.

Some people are bitter that such a "holiday" exists. If we were better Catholics, I imagine that we'd acknowledge every day as being some saint's day. Today just happens to be Valentine's saint day. I don't begrudge him the day. I also don't begrudge people in love the opportunity to reaffirm their love to each other, although I am of the very firm opinion that they'd better not just be doing it once a year. I don't really see a lot of people kicking up a lot of fuss about St. Patrick's day. I guess because that gives them a good excuse to go drink themselves into oblivion after breaking up with someone after Valentine's Day. Or something like that.

I am Irish but not Catholic; nevertheless, neither day really holds any particular significance to me as I don't drink either.

I can only remember one Valentine's day that I had a boyfriend. And that's using the term rather loosely. That year, Valentine's Day happened to fall on a Sunday. I wasn't quite sure what, if anything, to get him, as he had been rather weird about the whole gift-exchanging thing at Christmas time. A musical he was in had just opened the weekend before, and I had gotten him an opening-night gift, a rather expensive one at that, and figured I was off the hook for Valentine's Day.

He invited me to his house after church that day. He often did that, so that wasn't anything special. I could usually only hang out for an hour or so before having to leave to go to work anyway, so it really wasn't anything special, nor was I really expecting anything. I was, perhaps, hoping for something special, but I certainly wasn't getting my hopes up.

He put me in the family room and I watched TV while he took "care of some things." I could hear him upstairs going from room to room, opening and closing drawers, whistling and singing. He came back about 10 minutes later with a lovely little gift bag full of Valentine's candy. I thought at the time, that it was quite thoughtful of him. As I mentioned earlier, he really was quite weird about gift giving, so I waited until I got him to open the whole thing in detail to see what I got.

As expected, it was the usual range of generic heart-shaped chocolates. There was, however, one box of conversation sweethearts. You know the ones -- nasty chalky candy with little stalker-ish sayings writting on them. "Be mine." "First kiss." Mad 4 You." There's a place on the outside of the box to personalize it -- "To" and "From." This particular little gem said, "To our friends at Pac Bell. From your favorite vendor."

I got a good chuckle out of that one. Thoughtful of the doofus to remember it was Valentine's Day and he was supposed to acknowledge my presence as his then-girlfriend in some way. Not so smart of him to figure out that the stuff he'd gotten at work on Friday might somehow be marked.

So Valentine's Day has never really held any special place in my heart. In fact, any memories of grade-school Valentine's Days I have are all slightly terror-filled, as I knew it was just a competition for the cute future cheerleaders to brag about how many Valentines they received from Scott or Todd or Philip -- the cute boys in the class, and to rub it in that while you may have gotten one from them, it was the generic Fred Flintstone "yabba-dabba-doo"ing a dorky Valentine's greeting at you, and not the large, glittery, red construction paper heart messily glued on a doiley. So there.

Good times.

But I really have no malice for it one way or another. To me, it's just Monday. Next year, it will be Tuesday. One of my friends calls it "Forced Affection Day." Her email said, "Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful day of forced affection!

"With forced love and admiration,
"Your friend, "

Nice to get an email from a friend telling me to have a happy day, but I'm honestly not thrilled with the fact that she feels she has to do it out of some Hallmark-induced sense of obligation.

Some of my other friends are calling it "Singles' Awareness Day." I don't really need that either, as a day doesn't go by that I'm not (sometimes painfully) aware of how very single I am.

To you I merely wish a Happy Valentine's Day. Go celebrate it however you want, just be safe and happy, and maybe no matter how we view today -- be it as an incentive to purchase wine (thanks, voice-over lady!), or buy a Gold Crown Hallmark card, or be reminded that you are (still) single -- we can all remember that it really is about love and friendship. Go tell someone you love that you love him! (I mean that pronoun in the generic gender sense. Obviously, if you love a girl, go tell HER you love her. Sheesh! Leave me alone, wouldja?)

Oh, and to my friend Carmel: Happy Birthday!