Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day, Part II

This is a public service announcement. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Men, you only have a few hours left before all the cards are sold out and all the flowers are gone. You can read this later – Get moving!

Valentine’s Day is a confounding “holiday.” The number of people around the world who actually enjoy Valentine’s Day is very, very small. Most women will probably tell you that they enjoy the day, but they’re lying. They’re only saying that because they don’t want to be seen as “anti-romance.” Truth be told, Valentine’s Day is very stressful for most people, men or women.

Let’s try to figure out who really likes Valentine’s Day. No man in the history of the world has ever liked it, so take out roughly half the population of the earth. Sure, it’s a day dedicated to romance, so if a guy plays his cards (and flowers) right, he might get rewarded for his efforts. However, this is a day where he is expected to be romantic, no matter what. If he happens to forget and go about his business as usual, he will be in deep trouble. Birthdays and anniversaries are one thing, but Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where every guy in the world can simultaneously get into a special, life-long, still bringing it up 25 years later kind of trouble, just for doing the same thing we did the day before. By the mere act of being yourself, you can be branded for life as an uncaring idiot, if you happen to forget the 14th of February. Who needs that?

By my (incredibly limited) experience, cards and flowers have a much more positive impact on her emotions (and on your love life) if they are given when she is not expecting them. A specific day of the year when they are mandatory?  Far too much pressure. And speaking of pressure, it is entirely one-sided. There has never been a man in the history of the world who’s has had his feelings hurt when his wife or girlfriend didn’t get him a card on Valentine’s Day. The onus is all on the men. Heaven forbid you screw it up, boys. If you do, Valentine’s Night will be pretty lonely. It’ll just be you and your onus.

As I said at the beginning, no man has ever liked Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean they all dislike it. Single men who are not dating have no particular feelings towards it one way or the other. They could care less about it. Single women who are not dating, however, hate Valentine’s Day. This is due to the fact that men and women are polar opposites when it comes to feelings about anything other than food and shelter being good things. Valentine’s Day for the single female is a myriad of emotions, all of them probably serving some sort of anthropological function, but none of them that you want to get anywhere within 40 feet of. Most of these emotions will be doused with wine, which can either have a suppressive effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a single match, or in most cases, an accelerant effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a campfire. Either way, it is best to observe the 40-foot perimeter.

Valentine’s Day for the single male means a shorter wait at the pizza place.

For women who are dating or married, Valentine’s Day is stressful. Not as stressful as it is for their men, but some amount of the man’s stress is transferred to the woman. That’s because the women know that we won’t get it right, no matter how hard we try, so they spend the weeks before Valentine’s Day worrying about what we’ll get wrong. Will he screw it completely up like I think he will, or will he surprise me and get it almost right? Never mind perfect. That ain’t happening.

Women who are dating someone casually worry that their significant other will go overboard and try too hard, making Valentine’s Day awkward instead if nice. Women who are dating someone seriously worry about the marriage proposal. If she feels that the proposal is imminent or overdue, she will worry that he won’t ask her to marry him. If she feels like it isn’t proposal time just yet, she will worry that he will ask.

In my estimation, women who are already engaged to be married are the only ones who truly enjoy a stress-free Valentine’s Day. If a lady’s fiancé has a track record of forgetting Valentine’s Day, she probably wouldn’t be engaged to him in the first place, so there is much less of a chance that she’s worried he will forget. (Naïvely, she thinks he will always remember the day once they are married. Boy, is she wrong!) There is no proposal pressure or worry, since that already happened, and since both parties are in constant communication about romantic stuff like wedding plans, chances are the guy will have a pretty good idea of what to do for the gift. Jewelry, flowers, chocolates, just a simple card… He is about as locked in as he’s ever going to be on what she wants. He will never know for sure, however, because reading a woman’s mind is a lot like reading Sanskrit in the dark. You’re never going to get it exactly right.

So, of all the people currently on the planet, the only ones who enjoy a truly worry-free and relaxing Valentine’s Day are most of the engaged women, and a handful of female newlyweds.  That probably works out to be far less than one percent of the population.

This leads me to the question of why we still have Valentine’s Day in the first place.

I don’t buy the argument that it’s just a day created by the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries. It goes deeper than that. We all feel like we have to participate, because the men don’t want to be seen as the Scrooge of February, and the women don’t want to be left out. Truth be told, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed if the day just went away, but stopping Valentine’s Day is an all or nothing deal. If there is one single solitary guy left on the earth still buying flowers for his fiancé on the 14th of February, the rest of us are going to hear about it.

Until those engaged guys can stand up and say no, we’re all going to have to keep going with it. Those engaged guys are weak. They are scared to screw anything up, and rightfully so. They don’t know what they’re getting into, and they know they don’t know. They are yes men, just trying to survive. They will never help us.

So, we’re stuck with it. Do your best, and hope for the best. That’s all we can do.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go see if they have any Valentine’s cards left at the gas station mini-mart. My wife loves those cards. I think.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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