This coming Sunday will be Valentine Day. That time of the year where shop windows are suddenly filled with red hearts and fluffy bunnies and sparkling chocolates and cards so cheesy the mere thought of them gives me diabetes. The time of the year when most people in a couple say “oh, Valentine Day is stupid, it’s just a stunt invented by advertising executives,” but then will go crazy to try and book a table at a restaurant or a weekend trip to Paris.
I remember as a single person I was always happy to hear my married/engaged/boyfriend-ed friends proclaiming their indifference to old Val. “Cool,” I’d say, shall we go to the cinema then?” “Oh sorry, I can’t,” was the inevitable answer. “I’m going for dinner with Paul (or Gennaro or Chu Huang or John). I really don’t care about Valentine but it’d feel bad not to spend it with him…”
Hold on, if you don’t care, if it’s just another day… why would you feel bad??
A few years ago, after decades of Valentine Nights spent on my own watching TV, I developed a theory: it’s true that coupled people don’t care much about Valentine. Unless one is 15 or brainless like, let’s say, Posh Spice or Jordan, one knows that the 14th of February was arbitrarily picked up by some card company as “lovers’ day” in order to boost their sales. None of the several Saint Valentines of the Catholic tradition had anything to do with lovers, cards, chocolates or romance. In fact they were buried alive for being Christians. Not exactly a romantic end… Ok, there are SOME sad men who need TV, radio, internet and supermarket tannoys to remind them to buy a present for their partner AT LEAST once a year. Such men will be probably happy if the media started advertising their spouses’ birthdays for two weeks prior to the the date so they wouldn’t forget it. But they are a minority. Most people in a relationship go out with their partners whenever they feel like, buy each other presents and don’t need a heart shaped pink card to say “I love you”.
BUT they DO need a day to prove to whomever isn’t in a couple that they’re some big losers. Oh, come on, admit it, you serial daters, you married for 20 years to my high-school sweatheart, you never-been-single-for-longer-than-3- weeks in a row (and NEVER in February)! You LOVE not being single at Valentine, and you LOVE that the world knows about it. You can feel bad or sad for your “poor” single friends (who might be happier than you because being in a couple isn’t the universal panacea) but the truth is you thank God every day for not being them! That’s why you bother being ripped off by restaurants, clubs and Ryanair in order to do “something” on Valentine Day.
Yes, couple can curse old Val, laugh at it, and despise it, but no way they’re going to totally ignore it. No Sir. Because they’re not single, they belong to a different club.
On Valentine Day I always imagined couples going out and congratulating each other. “We’re the cool ones!” “Well done for being part of the group!””Well done!”
Yes, I always hated Valentine Day.
And the most infuriating thing was that my second name is Valentina. So on Valentine Day usually I get a phone call from my mum and my aunt Lina (and sometimes from my old friend Lucilla) saying “happy second name day!” Don’t get me wrong… they’re sweet, I find it moving that they should remember my second name day… But, let’s face it, it is also slightly pathetic. When I was little I loved having my second name day in February as it gave me an excuse to have a party (my birthday is in July and no child was around in July to celebrate as they were all on holiday – ok, now the story of my life is starting to sound like Oliver Twist or something…) But I haven’t had a second name day party since I was 12.
I did have some boyfriends here and then during my 20 something years of adulthood but none of them ever lasted until the 14th of February. The only exception was Diego, but by Valentine Day I had decided to break up with him as I couldn’t stand him anymore, so it doesn’t count. It didn’t help that he bought me a horrid plastic music box shaped like a merry-go-round for Valentine as if I was a 5 years old insomniac.
Thanks to couples and media’s insensitivity, Valentine’s day for me (like for most singles) was always a reminder of solitude. I tried to ignore it, but TV, radio, emails, newspapers, shops, friends, they all force-fed it on you like horrid hospital food when you’re sick… I wished they’d suppress it, considered start a petition to have it declared illegal… After all, it’s discrimination, it’s against minorities. In the US, radio and TV say happy “holidays” instead of happy “Christmas” in order not to offend non-Christians, why do we allow non-coupled people to be offended year after year by this ostentation of romantic love???
So why is it… that I’m going out for a meal with my boyfriend on Valentine this year????
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I must make this confession. I’m a traitor of the cause. I’m hypocrite, I deserve public humiliation. But for the first time in my life, at an age far too advanced to be mentioned, I won’t be single on Valentine Day. And I can’t resist. I have to celebrate it. I want to. After seven years on my own I think I’m entitled to.
I know I don’t need Valentine to spend a lovely day with my boyfriend. But it’s a handy excuse. And I’ll celebrate not because I think couplehood is the only way of being, as I know men and women can be perfectly happy on their own; not because I want the world to know I have a boyfriend as I know the world doesn’t give a damn, and that for “normal” people, who have lived through many Valentines, having a partner is normal and I’ll be just another of those silly ones who gets ripped off for a dinner for two on the 14th; not because I want to feel different from my single friends – I was one of them for too long; no…
I’ll celebrate because…
…It’s a new thing. Pathetic and childish as that might sound. Because for once on the 14th I won’t be speaking just with my mum, and my aunt and Lucilla ringing me to say “happy second name day”.
I’d never had a “real” relationship until 9 months ago. Now I do. And for this reason I want this Valentine to be different. Just for once.
I will still sign the petition asking to abolish the bloody thing, trust me. I mean it.
But from next year.
And to my single readers: yes, I’ve jumped ship but it’s still me. I will never be really one of “them” coupled people who pities singletons. I will go to the cinema with you.