I was what you might call a ‘late bloomer’ in the romance department. While my classmates started ‘going together’ in second or third grade, when it consisted of sitting by one another during assemblies and film strips and not avowing eternal fear of their cooties, I kept pretty much immune to the questionable appeal of the opposite sex as represented by the members of my very small class for all of grade school-with few exceptions-and didn’t really find anything to trip my trigger for most of Junior High School and High School. To be honest with entire grades numbering in less than 80 (some less than 60), it was, and still does, feel almost like I would have been dating a cousin…but that apparently was just me.
By that, what I mean to say is, most of the ‘romantic’ holidays generally either gave me extreme angst or amused cynicism.
Angst came in during my earlier years when I hadn’t quite made my own identity and at eight, just wanted to be liked and figure out what was what. It came in later at the 14ish years when my close friends generally seemed to have a special someone to give them googley eyes (and more importantly presents and public validation of their desirability) at least at just the right times, while I would slip into a self-pitying wallow of one-ness.
The more fun amused cynicism is what I like to think of as my ‘real attitude’ over the holiday. Seriously, look at it. Look at the proliferation of profoundly tacky things that so many girls-and unlucky guys-will be receiving. They’re going to have to find some way to store those, or toss them, without hurting feelings. That’s hard if one is serious about the person who gave you the monstrously huge lady bug with giant googley heart-shaped eyes (Yes, I received that!). The little cupids in their little diapers-clearly a warning to couples to practice safe sex! Red and pink together as they really, really should never be is another clear warning that this is not a serious holiday.
I’d watch girls hook up just before Valintine’s day with almost any guy just to not get the angst feeling. It was almost as bad as prom was in high school… only it never ended!
Now, I’d like to say that I avoided that entirely out of some kind of moral fiber… and I’d almost be not lying. It was also in large part due to the fact that I was that late bloomer and was just turn durn picky as well as just unable to make myself want to try to spend time with someone who didn’t get me really, really excited.
Eventually, my Junior year of college, I met that someone. We shared the cynical amusement. That didn’t stop us from pledging our love via trinkets and scamming all the after-Valentine’s Day chocolate sales we could. Chocolate doesn’t need a reason or an excuse to make up for the silly shapes they pour it into.
We graduated. We got married. Suddenly we had more money than we did as poor students and that silly holiday got to be another excuse to buy things for one another. One year I got that stupid bug I mentioned earlier as part of the gift. It was outrageously expensive for a profoundly ugly stuffed bug. I wept openly at the spendthrift tacky of it-or rather I did in private, and got caught. We had a small fight, in which he defended it as ‘cute and soft and in theme’ and I accepted that as long as he accepted that it was ‘not me, overpriced, and we have no where to put the thing.’ I got DVDs and chocolate and a soft faux-tiger blanket with the return money… and we all loved that. It fed the lazy, the gluttonous and the kinky in both of us.
I barely even spare a cynical thought for the V-Day now… I don’t watch a lot of commercials, and I don’t have many single female friends, and I DO have my steady date.
I suppose, I could say ‘All’s well that ends well’ or ‘There’s someone for everybody.’ I could even say that we all grow up and sell out-and that would probably be closer to the truth… but hey, I got a gorgeous topaz necklace and some chocolate truffles this year (I know… I helped pick it out, yes, still cynical and remembering that bug). He’s using it as an excuse to scan eBay for life-sized R2-D2 coolers (which I have to admit, are dead cool). So cynicism lives… if you don’t ‘have someone’ spend their present money on you… and yours too. Rest assured, you’re doing the right thing.