Valentine’s Torture

Love it or hate it it's here again – yes, it's Valentine's Day. Once a day brought in to replace a pagan festival that involved goat skins and women who wanted to become fertile, now a shameful excuse for shops to sell slushy cards with nauseating messages inside and rack up the price of flowers until it's cheaper to acquire a gold ingot than a dozen red roses.

I've never been a fan of Valentine's day. Back in the days when I was single it felt like a celebration of what an utter loser you were if you hadn't managed to find a partner. People would tell you how many secret Valentine's cards you got and it was always more that you. Every TV ad featured slushy couples gazing into each other's eyes and everyone on earth seemed to have found their perfect partner with the notable exception of me and a couple of friends. It seemed that the whole world was looking on in pity as people would ask "What are you doing for Valentine's Day" and you'd ahve to answer that you'd probably stay in and watch the telly to avoid the sickening spectacle of everyone else being in a couple and looking at you like you had lice because you weren't.

It was only fractionally less grim than at my cousin's wedding when the bride shouted for all the single girls to come forward and try to catch the bouquet. Picture the scene: I'm hiding, out of the corner of my eye I can see that the only other single girl in the place is trying to subtly crawl under the buffet table tto avoid being noticed but my father is for once cooperating and standing still so I can hide behind him. For a moment I think I've got away with it but then…."Vicola!" Oh god it's my aunt, she's got a voice like a town cryer, all the sensitivity of a Chieftain tank and she's heading my way…"Vicola! What ARE you doing standing behind your father? You haven't got a boyfriend have you? Get up the front here. You never know, if you catch the bouquet you might even manage to find someone!" she bellows at a volume that makes the ground shake. Dear god let the earth open up and swallow me know…please? Everyone is looking on with a mixture of pity and amusement, my brother is laughing so hard that he can barely remain upright and the other single girl is clearly contemplating a headlong dash across the lawn to avoid a similar fate. I'm wishing I'd had the foresight to do that before getting clocked by Foghorn Lil.

Yes, Valentine's Day when you're single is a giant reminder that as a woman there are large sections of society that think that if you haven't managed to 'bag yourself a husband' by your mid twenties then you must be a horn-toed freak with breath like an ox, a face like a bucket of smashed crabs and all the personality of a King Edward potato.

So presumably if you're married it suddenly all becomes great and Valentine's Day becomes a heady celebration of your mutual adoration, the highlight of your annual social calender, right? Wrong. Because as Patricia Volonakis Davis has quite rightly pointed out, our expectations of Valentine's Day are all skewed because our idea of what what constitutes romance is utterly bloody bonkers. Why is it that I am still secretly slightly disappointed that he hasn't arranged to whisk me off to Paris for a private dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower? I knew he wouldn't, he couldn't afford it even if he wanted to and if he did take me I'd probably end up dropping a fork off the tower, spearing someone and spending 10 years in Le Prison Francais for attempted murder. No, he does things like bringing me a surprise Curly Wurly from the shop because I like them, or offering me some of his orange juice. He picks me up from the pub when I've had too much vodka and am talking nonsense.

I blame the media, it's full of stories like Ashley Cole taking Cheryl Cole for a private shopping trip to Tiffany and paying for a new dress and a pampering session for her. Mind you, it could be because they spent last Valentine's Day apart because the papers were full of the fact that he'd screwed some kiss and tell slapper behind her back. I bet David Beckham is taking Victoria somewhere impressively expensive that ordinary people can't afford to go to. It never seems to make her happy though, she is the most po-faced woman I've ever seen. So perhaps grand gestures aren't all that, maybe after spending every night getting glammed up in case the media are about and swanning in and out of swanky restaurants, all you want to do for Valentine's Day is sit on the sofa in your tracksuit bottoms and no makeup watching a DVD and sharing a takeaway beef madras with your other half.

Patricia blames fairytales for giving us an unrealistic expectation of what Prince Charming should be. This isn't Cinderella, it's life and no matter how many twee stories you read the Prince Charming you end up with is going to come in drunk sometimes and snore all night, he's going to fart then giggle and try and blame it on the dog and sometimes he's going to do things that are so mind-bendingly irritating that you want to beat him into submission with a heavy based pan. At some point he'll sulk, at some point he'll shout and frankly if he dresses in full finery all the time and is permanently immaculate then he's probably homosexual.

Still, the rest of us mortals down here are feeling the pressure. It's like New Year, you are obliged to have fun and if you don't and someone else does you feel like you're letting the side down. This year my cousin is being whisked off to Chester for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend. I am not. So now I feel vaguely let down, even though it's their first Valentine's together and I don't even WANT to go to Chester for the weekend. Ridiculous isn't it? Most of the time my other half and me live fairly independant lives, we do some stuff together and we do some stuff apart. So why, for this one stupid day do I feel like he should be pining to be at my side, even though I know that if her were doing that it would drive me nuts?

Personally I think Valentine's Day should be banned for the sake of single people everywhere and ordinary couples. Perhaps we could replace it with "Do whatever you accompanied by someone you'd like to do it with" Day? That would encompass everyone and surely, SURELY it would be less pressure and less stress than the enforced love-in we're stuck with now?


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16 Responses

  1. [c’est top]

  2. You nailed it good, Vicola.

  3. jtx: thanks for the card, what'll we have for dinner?
    mrsjtx: thanks for the card. I'm white screen here, you?
    jtx: likewise. duck?
    mrsjtx: duck, ok. D'you still love me?
    jtx: I'm still here, aren't I?
    mrsjtx: I suppose I'll live with that, you romantic bastard.
    jtx: You know it makes sense.
    mrsjtx: carrots, brocolli, roast spuds, champagne?
    jtx: works for me.
    mrsjtx: ok, honey. Don't forget to record Match of the Day. The roses were nice, too.

  4. "you must be a horn-toed freak with breath like an ox, a face like a
    bucket of smashed crabs and all the personality of a King Edward potato"Love it! Wonderfully put! 😀

  5. Glad to see it's not just me!

  6. Ahhhhh, romance is not dead, champagne, spuds, Match of the Day…who could ask for more?

  7. "you want to beat him into submission with a heavy based pan."I always wondered who Mrs GOF used as a role model for the way she manages me….now I know ;-)Could not agree with your sentiments more.

  8. I hate it too. Who needs the retail industry to tell you that today is the day you should be nice to your partner.

  9. sometimes he's going to do things that are so mind-bendingly irritating
    that you want to beat him into submission with a heavy based pan. At
    some point he'll sulk, at some point he'll shout and frankly if he
    dresses in full finery all the time and is permanently immaculate then
    he's probably homosexual.ROTFL!!! – that is classic:)i say, ban it! – the church stole it from the pagans anywaysi've always hated it! especially since in my stupid high school, they did this extra humiliating thing where people sent carnations to other people – and they were delivered at the beginning of every class – and invariably, since i never had a boyfriend – i was the only one among my friends who didn't get one (looking back, i never should have felt humiliated by this – why the
    hell would i have wanted to have gone out with any of those neaderthals – but, you
    know, i was a teenager) – well, and it was so sad to see the other girl's crestfallen expressions! terrible thing to do!!! – by all means, ban the damn thing!!!well, you know what we did this year:) – a much truer celebration of love, those we love, and those who love us unconditionally no matter how crappy we are, if i'm going to celebrate love – besides, we're already gorging ourselves on Swiss chocolate – certainly no need for more of that! – lol!!p.s. i do admit i love making Valentines though – for everybody, not just for Steven – glue sticks and sparkly glitter and all that…

  10. it just needs to be reinvented,sex toys hanging from the lampposts,your queen mother wearing a cupids outfit and orgy's in the street.there back to normal a good wholesome holiday

  11. Oooh, the carnation thing sounds excrutiating. Our school was a girl's school and across the road was the boys school. Valentine's cards used to be delivered through the 'Valentine Post' between the two. My teenage years were not exactly my finest in terms of appearance and it was always embarrassing when the 'Valentine Post' arrived because I knew bloody well I'd have received bugger all. Actually the normal post was the same but at least there it was only my immediate family who witnessed my embarrassment at the lack of cards in the post, not my entire class. Mind you, it could have been worse, at least I wasn't the only one who got sod all, a lot of my friends also weren't visited by the Valentine card pixie either.

  12. If a heavy based pan is not available then a wok can be used instead….

  13. The queen mother in a cupid outfit – that's going to be quite a sight, she's been dead since 2002!

  14. well, in high school – when most of the carnations were delivered first and second periods of the day, i just hid behind the kettle drums and the bass drum in the percussion section – which was fine, because i was in the percussion section:)lol! – steven has seen pics of me in jr. high in my heinous pinky-orange gigantic plastic framed specs, my pageboy haircut, and in the ghastly clothes my mother insisted on picking out for me and has the gall to tell me i looked adorable, when i know for a fact that i looked like a bigger dork than even i felt ! – however, i am the teensiest bit grateful for the total lie!

  15. You are all weak. Weak I tell you.
    I always liked Valetine's day. when i was with someone it was a cool day to do cool stuff together with. Money is not really needed to have a great time. And basically I didn't hang around with anyone not able to enjoy holidays and celebration days. Birthdays, Xmases, all f it, bring it on.
    And when I was single it was a good excuse to go out and get some sex with a pretty and available girl…what with the years of mental torture making them practically throw themselves at anything even remotely male, you basically had to fight them off with nunchakus.
    And when in school I didn't get any cards I was not crushed, I just understood that mating between brain damaged monkeys and a noble Martian such as myself would just be an abomination thus the natural order of things was all good and I thought nothing more of it.
    Of course this attitude of mine was just further evidence I am not native to this planet. Peer pressure is an imaginary number in my universe. Not so for Terrans it appears.

  16. I can just about see how that logic would make Valentine's Day fractionally less tortuous….

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