Love Actually is a fantastic movie.
This post has nothing at all to do with that movie, but I had to acknowledge it for what it is.
This post is about how a person who loathes Valentine’s day with the passion of one thousand suns got past that little issue and realized how gosh darn lucky she really is.
The adorable little hateress in today’s story is none other than the super, mega, awesome biotchness who typed the post you are now reading.
So the story goes like this…
I have always hated Valentine’s Day. It started when I was 6 and I had a crush on the butcher.
(Yep. The butcher. The guy who slices deli meats, not some freaking serial murderer. Sheesh!)
I would go see him every Saturday morning during the shopping trip and man was he a hottie.
To clarify my idea of “hottie” at the age of 6, I liked Andy Gibb, Jon from CHiPs, and Potsie on Happy Days. I was an odd child.
Well, I dug this butcher. His name was John (or Jon); I never asked.
What I do know is that someone revealed my love for him. A love I had kindled since I was about 5. I used to try to dazzle him with my mad dancing skills and Snoopy knee socks. (This shocks you, yes?)
John gave me a gift the year I was 6. On Valentine’s Day he gave me a gift of 2 stuffed monkeys hugging. (I know. That was technically very sweet and technically, John was a good guy.)
What he did after he gave me the monkeys is tell me that he was getting married.
Not me. (Again, Brooklyn; not Bayou Country.)
Since I was not then as I am not now in possession of a credible “poker face”, I can only imagine what my look must have said. What I do know is that I stormed right out of the deli and stood next to the bike awaiting Anna to finish the shopping and get us on with my life without John/Jon.
I refused to go back into that deli on any following Saturday and did not attend his wedding, to which Anna and I were both invited.
That was it.
I considered Valentines’ Day a day of people giving you gifts because they fall short in the ways in which you wish they would not…
…and more importantly, a day on which people (like my 6-year old self) hold unrealistic expectations of the people whom we allegedly love.
I didn’t need that stress.
When I got older and was what we now call a “tween”, the V Day stress came up again. Oh my GAWD, do junior high school girls stress out about this shit!
Ugh. I had to play the game because they already thought I was a freak and that would have been worse if I didn’t act like I gave a shit about holidays and “love”. Double ugh.
“Love” when you are 12 is some boy with braces and big blue eyes who you hope will grow up to be cool like your grandpa but of whom you could not currently imagine kissing because there seems to be a lot of spit going on there and you have heard horror stories about braces wires and said wires poking through people’s mouths…which would not only be painful but would get you in a heap of steaming trouble at home.
You might still let this boy kiss you with what you will later realize is the messiest excuse for a kiss ever and wonder how it is that your gag reflexes were not triggered by having to wipe that person’s spit off your face.
(Hi! I was a little bit uptight as a kid, if you have not guessed that by now.)
So, yeah…V Day was about unrealistic expectations which turned into unrealistic physical expectations, which by high school had turned into all that PLUS a full-blown competition amongst the study body…even if unspoken.
Just what I needed; another reason to absolutely loathe high school and the fact that I was not a tall/petite blonde who was adorable with perfect skin and the whitest Keds on the planet. Awesome. Go me!
Later in life, once my body grew into itself and I figured out how to maintain my eyebrows, V Day took on a different spin. A spin in which I was left with the unfortunate task of having to plan things or receive ill-conceived gifts (like the XL white down MEN’S jacket and red lace Onesie I got in ’97)…
…or irrational gifts (like the 2.06 ct diamond I was presented with by a friend who knew I was engaged to someone else but believed himself to be the better catch, in 1999). Maybe he was a better catch, but the act freaked me out enough to run far, far away. As far as I know, he has not hurled himself off a cliff and is married to a lovely girl who said yes.
I always felt a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day to do or be something that I am not.
I was either supposed to act romantic toward someone to whom I did not wish or I had to explain to this person or that person why I did not wish to spend my day doing alleged romantic things.
Blah, blah, blah…
Every year, whether single, dating, engaged, or married, there has been some sort of mess associated with Valentine’s Day.
…and someone’s feelings getting hurt; typically (TYPICALLY) not mine.
I do as well at Valentine’s Day as I do with dating. I do not do well with forced discomfort that relies on others for a result.
I can make myself damn uncomfortable on the bike any old time and know that the only thing keeping me from and/or getting me my happy ending is me…and sometimes a stray tree.
Yesterday, I was reminded, without intent, by some friends and my kiddos that Valentine’s Day can just be about a good meal (or two) and eating candy while watching a sappy movie with sparkly vampires while your dogs work out their issues with each other.
There doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, or a restaurant, or dressing up.
There can be happiness about roses given to your little girl by her daddy…
…and happiness about the fact that you have surrounded yourself with the kind of people who would rather chill out than exploit and diminish the grandeur of real love for superficial demonstration of commercialism.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people truly love the people for whom they make February 14th a romantic day…but I am also willing to bet that those people demonstrate their love the other 364/365 days per year as well.