You’d think that being in a happy relationship would provide protection. Unfortunately, no.
Valentine’s Day, like any insidious plague and/or killer virus, can strike anyone.
Fear. Even married men who, we presume, have sealed the deal on the romantic front, speak of the day as one of “crippling pressure.” As one nervous wanna-be romantic said: “Chocolate blows her low-carb diet, and she thinks flowers are a waste of money. I’m doomed.”
As a wife firmly in the “waste-of-money” camp regarding flowers, I feel his pain.
Worse, unlike birthdays with the obvious queen (or, OK, king) for a day, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a mutual thing. With no one clear winner to be cosseted and catered to on the “special day,” there evolves instead an “I’ll rub your back, you rub mine” compromise which, while fair, is wholly unsatisfying for both parties.
It is utterly ironic too that we often end up resenting the person (or persons) we love because you are supposed to, in fact, love them more somehow on this most “special day!”
Love, in this incarnation, is being summed up as buying endless reams of stuff indiscriminately without regard for budget, desire, or common sense.
This is why retailers continue to try to convince unsuspecting schmucks that every grown woman on the planet hungers for stuffed bears and “I (heart-shape) you” mass-produced mugs.
Still, to be fair, some do enjoy the holiday.
Most of these people are small children (who might, come to think of it, actually like the stuffed bears).
Unfortunately, even the age of innocence does not guarantee happy memories.
The feelings of tension start in kindergarten. You’re not even sure what it means, but you’re afraid you’re not going to get enough … something. Cards, candy, or love.
It’s unsettling, this new addition of a holiday fraught with stress. Welcome to the real world kiddies!
As an adult, you understand the rule of “one for all or none for any” but in childhood there is always one show-off in any group.
This is the parent who breaks the rules of fair play. While 20-some other children are dutifully handing off the drugstore, bulk-bought valentines with the popular cartoon character of the day mass produced upon them, this Martha-Mommy has sent in a.) a batch of handmade cards featuring stitching, glitter glue, and hand cut paper lace; or b.) individually purchased, off-the-rack cards, full-size Hallmarkesque confections that dwarf every other offering.
Love bombs. Compounding the offense is when the oversized offering is made only to a select handful of “special friends.”
My son was once the lone recipient of one of these love bombs in preschool and I struggled, self-righteously, with the evil desire to inform the other mother that her son (who she believed to be a “best friend” of mine) had been referred to only once by my child in two consecutive years of preschool, and only then in the context of “that kid, the one who keeps pushing me. …”
I shudder to think that despite the best intentions of sane parents and good teachers everywhere, some child goes home sobbing and traumatized by yet another Valentine’s Day gone bad.
Many a parent has likely raised a fist in understandable ire and swore on a stack of Whitman’s samplers that Valentines Day will cause bloodshed before tear-shed next year.
Yet, despite our best intentions, like the ghoul in those endless Friday the 13th movies, or the presidential election, it always rises again.
Like the Lazarus of holidays, it cannot be killed and, worse, has spawned evil offspring holidays such as Sweetest Day a’ la Bride of Frankenstein or Son of the Blob.
As the granddaddy of the esteem-killing holidays, it is no wonder that Valentine’s Day enjoys the dubious honor of being the only major holiday with its own massacre named after it.
History might lead us to believe that the bloodshed on that fateful Valentine’s Day many years ago was simply a gangland turf war gone bad.
Somehow, it seems more likely that it all started when some overwrought mother dealt, in the same day, with a spouse who blew the rent money on roses that were wilting before she slapped them into a mayonnaise jar “vase,” and a kindergartner who came home in tears because she didn’t get “the most valentines of anyone in the class!”
Valentine’s Day is enough to make anyone want to go a little nuts – or maybe cream filled, with a nice thick layer of chocolate to sweeten the blow
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is handing out exactly the same size greeting to every person on the planet just to avoid hurt feelings. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)