Valentine’s Day: the unofficial holiday when people have our involuntary permission to act giddy and shower their significant others with “mountains of affection,” a.k.a. presents. Don’t call me bitter—I’m actually a romantic—but February 14 is NOT about all this saliva-provoking sentimentality. Everyone’s forgotten by now about its true origins and about poor Saint Valentine’s act of compassion that prompted a day dedicated to love. Valentine’s Day is a time for stomach-clenching dread, not high anticipation. Especially when the rest of us who do not celebrate it have to enter any store or public place. Hearts, pink and red, covering the walls. More hearts surrounding every tangible surface. Oh, the horror. But it gets worse. Much, much worse. February 14 turns out to be a day of expectation, not motivation.
- Those annoying, cheap candy hearts. Not only are they made entirely out of sugar and artificial food coloring, these edible “tokens of affection” are inscribed with sexual phrases like “Be mine.” Ugh.
- Love themes at work and school. Can you believe that even public environments have succumbed to brainwashing like this? And after they made such a big deal out of sexual harassment and romantic relationships in public places (tsk tsk)! Valentine’s Day requires the distribution of unaddressed valentines at high schools and elementary schools, and gifts at work. Yes, your co-worker or your peer may give something or other because of an overcommercialized holiday, but that won’t stop them from 1) trying to steal your promotion; or 2) vandalizing your locker the next day. Hypocrisy, anyone?
- Pre-made, store-bought Valentine’s Day cards (and e-cards). You HAVE to hate them. Most are corny, insinuating, even sexually vulgar. You cannot get more unoriginal or lazy than to fall prey to greeting card companies. If someone sent me one of these despicable things masquerading as love notes, I’d slap him very hard at the first opportunity. Be creative—write her/him a long, handwritten love letter.
- Public displays of affection. PLEASE. I’ve seen it all, time and time again. Kissing in a restaurant or parking lot, groping in a public park, making out in a car. People, just get a room. The rest of us sensible enough to keep such actions private are getting nauseated while you pretend that life is a movie and the public is playing the extras.
- Chocolates. Wow. What a sentiment of love. Instead of doing something genuine, like organizing a picnic in a park, you say “I love you” with a confection. Didn’t your doctor or your parents ever tell you that eating too much candy wrecks your teeth and will make you fat? And I thought being skinny was all the rage. Instead, stores are loaded with chocolate roses, not sweet-smelling bouquets, and all brands of candy. As if they’ll be sold out.
- Balloons. You know, when I was younger, a heart-shaped, helium-filled plastic creation floating in the air would leave my face with an awestruck expression. Except that this amusing incident occurred when I was in 1st grade. I can see the expression on the face of you date already when you hand her (or heaven forbid, him) an item that refuses to come down from the ceiling when you want it to and which will eventually pop or run out of air.
- Huge teddy bears. Again, this is a gift for CHILDREN. Kids will always love a big and extravagant toy, but I bet that they will get tired of it sooner or later. With presents, never listen to the saying “Think big!”, because it is a knock-off.
- Spa kits. You’ve got to be kidding me—another slap-worthy gift. Boys and girls, when you give someone a spa gift, it is called a faux pas. It’s like saying to your significant other, “Honey, you look bad. Here’s help.” Although I’d like to see a man’s reaction to his beloved handing him a spa kit. It would be…amusing, to say the least.
- Gift cards. Hey, personally, I love gift cards. They’re flexible, dependable, and they give you the freedom of non-existent cash. I just believe that giving your sweetheart a gift card is the same as putting a price tag on your relationship—payment for services rendered, if you catch my drift.
- Mugs. Oh no…the terrible coffee mugs. Whoever invented the very idea of giving someone a decorated cup as a sign of affection ought to be…nevermind. You can’t speak love by means of a cup, for coffee or anything else. People who still adheres to coffee-mug-giving: you have a desperate need for an imagination. Seriously.
- A dinner date. A home-cooked meal (guys, take a cooking class), privacy for two: I’m all for it. A crowded restaurant where everyone has congregated for Valentine’s Day: No way.
- Karaoke. This probably isn’t done often, but I’ve heard of boyfriends dragging their girlfriends to karaoke bars, where they immediately jump on stage and start droning “our song” for all the world to hear. What can I say? Some people like to be embarrassed in front of an audience of strangers. But unless you have a voice like Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, or Taylor Swift, I’d drop the solo if I were you. Instead, be kind to everyone’s ears and ask your date to dance to a great song.
- Text-messaging. Absolutely no cell-phone or technology-generated message will ever substitute for a genuine gesture of love. If this is the only thing you’ll be doing on Valentine’s Day—text-messaging “I ♥ U”—you’re pathetic.
- Last but not least: the final reason. I hate Valentine’s Day because it totally convinces me that: 1) few relationships work; 2) few people truly love each other; and 3) people change partners as often as they change outfits. Love doesn’t need such showing off; if it’s genuine, it will manifest itself. You’ll simply act on it, in the best and sweetest ways. I see the world as it is: cells phones in place of real communication, Facebook and Skype in place of real interaction. And I realize…that there’s no hope for us romantics, except in books and movies. Fiction. Reality contradicts what we wish to be true. Valentine’s Day is a disappointment and a slap in the face for all of us who are still single and for those who wish they were. As for sensible love gifts, use your common sense and your romantic heart. They are always winners, so don’t be a loser.