I don’t really understand Valentine’s Day

When I was younger, I’m sure the idea with Valentine’s Day was to send a card and/or flowers and/or chocolate and/or gifts to someone you were sexually attracted to. And to make this unbelievably more annoying for the person you’re sending it to, you must write the card with whichever is not the hand you usually write with, sign it from “?”, and post it from 15 miles away so the postmark is of a different town. I mean you don’t want the person to know you like them do you? How would that make any sense?

This way, the girl who lives round the corner will never suspect you of a crime so heinous as sending her a nice card, and she’ll be confused as to why someone who has handwriting like a doctor’s house pet is writing to them from somewhere they’ve never visited.

If you want to really scare the hell out of them, you can do what I did in my early teenage years, and cycle to their house with an enormous card, leave it outside their house, ring the doorbell and run away. Nothing odd in that, right? The postman *could* have delivered it, right? Not on a Sunday he couldn’t. I can’t remember how I found out her address given that she had only recently moved there, but she certainly didn’t give it to me. Bizarrely this didn’t seem like stalking, to my teenage self.

There was obvious exclusions to some of these anonymity rules, in that my mum would send a card to her boyfriend. Pretty obvious who that one is from, no matter which hand she used to write it, given that she didn’t so much deliver it, as relocate it from the bedroom to the living room. He would occasionally arrange for Interflora to send her cut flowers in return, which she always told me she disliked because they’re expensive, and they die so quickly. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

Either way, Valentine’s is surely something you do with/for the one person (or maybe 2-3 people if you’re in a polyamorous relationship) you most want to make sweet love to. There’s even that guy with the arrows (I forget his name) making two people get lustful for one another. Some of my hormone-driven teenage years, I actually bought cards not knowing who I’d be giving them to. Then it was almost a snap decision on who I’d been checking out closest to the day. If I’d thought about it properly, I’d have sent like 10 cards every year, to work the numbers a bit. (My mum never sent me a card, no. That’d be weird.)

My housemate went to Tesco last night, came back and laughed about how there had been a load of men wandering aimlessly around the flower section, trying to pick out the last remaining roses. Ironically, she’s not that fussed about roses. She likes wild ones en-masse, but thinks ordinary red roses a bit…boring? I wonder how many other women are the same. Daffodils (which she loves as they look happy/cheery/bright) are dirt cheap in comparison, even on Valentine’s Day.

But men have somehow been programmed that they must buy roses. A few years ago, for a girlfriend on Valentine’s, I baked her a cake. And in doing so, I decorated it with (artificial) rose petals. This was because if you buy real roses on the 13th February at 11pm (alright I’d left it until the last minute), they’re expensive, all look half-dead, and come in packs of 12. I could neither give 11 red roses as a gift, nor fit 12 rose’s petals on one cake. I couldn’t think of anything else to do with the remaining ones really, and the selection left really was terrible/half dead.

So there I was, queuing up in Tesco with my artificial rose from their ‘cushions and flowery decorative tat’ section on the night of the 13th, when I got harassed by two women in the same queue, about how I was obviously a real ladies man and “the last of the big spenders” for buying what they perceived to be my only gift of one plastic/fabric rose. I bothered to try and explain “no way – it’s just decoration – I’m baking a cake…….which is why I’ve got the oven gloves, flour and whipped cream too” but it was useless. I had failed as a man by not buying the prescribed number of real roses, whether the person I was buying for, wanted them or not. Apparently quite a lot of women also hate the enforced specified celebration.


Well it’s 2012, and I’m even more confused. My housemate received a “happy valentines x” text from her sister. She promptly sent one to her mum. I open Twitter and there’s people saying it to strangers, to each other, to just “everybody! I love you all!”

All? Everybody? Really?

Has this turned into another greeting I must wish everyone I meet? Like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter”, regardless of their religious background (most of my friends are atheists), must I attempt to wish them a cheery “Happy Valentine’s!” even if they’re giving away free copies of the Metro or I’m calling them for a car insurance quote? Well, do I?

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