Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be mine? Why?

 Okay, kids, serious question time.

 Does anyone actually like Valentine's Day? I mean, besides greeting card companies and florists, to derail any smarty pants.

 Now, granted, I'm not a big holiday guy in general. I never cared much for dressing up in any form or fashion, I don't understand why a special day or season is required so one can be nice to folks, and I'm not particularly religious or into any other form of idolatry. I've long been of the firm opinion that the universe doesn't give a damn what importance we mere mortals assign to a particular diurnal period and I've never been one for ritual.

 That being said, I do dig that many folks really get into different holidays for different reasons. Religious observations,  personal days, and government holidays, humans as a group really seem to like the idea of picking out certain days and deciding to make a huge deal out of them. Right now, out my window, a greater-than-average number of drunken yay-hoos are raising hell in celebration of Mardi Gras. Athens makes a big deal out of Halloween, and Savannah goes absolutely insane on St. Patrick's Day. Furthermore, I've known way too many people, family members included, who get full of the milk of human kindness come Christmastime to complete disregard that otherwise irritating time of the year.

 Before calenders, clocks and the myriad other ways we yoke ourselves to modern life, humans used to use those special days to mark the never-ending turn of life. People were married at harvest or a child's birth was marked from the Solstice for thousands of years. We're used to the idea, in other words.

 But Valentine's Day? From what I can tell, the only people who really look forward to it are those looking to make a buck off it. Sure, some folks will use any excuse to party, but does anyone get pumped up about Valentine's the first of February or get wistful for dead flowers when the 14th rolls around? From what I can tell, people either tolerate it, hate it, or they're "past it" in some form or fashion. In one of those long-running excuses to not think hard that make sometimes ashamed of my Y chromosome, guys worldwide are letting themselves be portrayed in such a manner that they begrudgingly do something nice for the person who regularly touches their individual penises in hopes said person will keep doing so. Admittedly, my experience with "normal relationships" is spotty, both as a participant and observer, but that seems to be how "normal relationships" are supposed to work. An exageration, true, but this clip from Family Guy isn't far off the mark.

 On the other hand, there are those who think the opposite. Valentine's isn't so much hated as it's held in contempt, the overt commercialization of love, romance and caring is enough to turn most folks right off of it. Even if they haven't put as much thought into it as all that, seems like the great majority is past Valentine's Day by the time they hit drinking age. Some are obnoxious about it, like them that brag about not watching television, but that's pretty rare. Sure, couples might use it as an excuse to go out to eat or do something nice for the beloved, but even then it's just an excuse, not the reason.

 And of course, Feb. 14 is flat loathed by millions of single folks and not a few attached souls, I'd wager. Being single, and worse being alone, is tough enough without having to see red satin hearts, rapidly decaying flowers and ridiculously expensive pieces of knickknackery on billboards and in advertisements at every turn. It's like being repeatedly smacked with a big cartoon mallet marked "LOSER" and even knowing that there are other poor, lonely bastards out there - some even in relationships and getting candy - doesn't help much. It's not surprising bitterness boils up.

 But does anyone really like Valentine's Day for the day itself? I'm not advocating anything nor do am I really concerned about how big a nothing it is. I'm just curious. You never hear anyone say "Oh boy, can't wait until Valentine's Day" and it just struck me as curious. I do, however, think it says a lot about modern relationships in our culture - whatever the hell that means - when the day dedicated to love and romance and relationships and commitment is at best comically tolerated and at worst hated with the heat of a million dying suns.