This coming Tuesday marks one of the most dreaded days of the year for nerds, especially single ones:
After all, what better way to celebrate the supposed martyrdom of a Catholic saint than with roses, flowers, winged babies armed with deadly weapons and more chocolate than any reasonable person can eat in a day? Never mind the fact that we have no idea which St. Valentine this feast day was supposed to honor and all associations between St. Valentine and romantic love are, in fact, completely fabricated. The earliest connection of love to the feast day of St. Valentine was poem by Chaucer composed to mark the wedding anniversary of Richard II – on a feast day that was celebrated in May, not February.
Then the French got ahold of the idea and turned it into a giant poetry contest about courtly love (aka “isn’t it great to be mopey about the fact that the girl I love has a husband?”) and it all spiralled out of control from there, really.
Let’s be honest here: Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. It’s sole purpose is to monetize love and use it to convince people that the best way to demonstrate your affection for someone is to buy them gifts and chocolate in hopes of some hard-and-fast boning later.
You know what Valentine’s Day really is? It’s a corruption of the Roman feast day, the Feast of Lupercalia, which celebrated the wolf that nursed Rome’s founder Romulus. The feast culminates on February 14th with the sacrifice of two goats and a dog by “wolves” (i.e. priests dressed in animal skins) who would then anoint themselves with the sacrificial blood and run around the city, beating women with leather thongs in the hopes that it will ease the pain of childbirth.
Naturally, this shortly turned into “wolves” (young men) running naked around the city covered in goat’s blood and slapping at women with shaggy bits of leather and followed by loads of orgiastic sex.
In the immortal words of Warren Ellis: Valentine’s day is really all about werewolves, blood and fucking.
So fuck Valentine’s Day.
Happy Horny Werewolf Day everyone.
Now let’s talk about how you’re going to make it through this holiday unscathed.
Valentine’s Day Sucks
It’s something of a tradition amongst the single to hate on Valentine’s Day. Starting this weekend – since VD1 falls on a week-day this year – you can expect a torrent of tweets and status updates decrying Valentine’s Day and how much they hate it.
Now in fairness, they’re not wrong. Valentine’s Day as it currently stands is Lover’s Holy Day of Obligation, where we are expected to make grand gestures and spend money on flowers, candy and jewelry… all of which has had a rather significant mark-up. And if you don’t… well, our culture says, you clearly don’t love your partner enough, now do you? Do you??
Now me, I used to be a Grand Gesture kind of guy. I used to make a huge effort for Valentine’s Day… I would make elaborate paintings or illustrations for my girlfriend.2 Eventually though, I stopped.
Because frankly, I was getting a little sick of the obligation factor behind it. The crass commercialization of it, the expectations – intentional or not – that the day has to be perfectly romantic and you should top last year’s efforts with MORE money, MORE effort, MORE MORE MORE. Being romantic doesn’t feel romantic when you have the weight of cultural expectations bearing down on your shoulders and casting judgement upon your efforts. “Oh no,” it whispers, “you got her flowers from the supermarket? What kind of monster are you?”
So like I said: I checked out. If I wanted a specific day to be fraught with romantic meaning… well, that’s what anniversaries were for, and frankly prices were much more reasonable. When I was in a relationship, I had a set plan for Valentine’s Day. When I was single, I had another. They kept me sane, they made my girlfriends happy and on the years when I was single, they got me laid.
And now I pass this wisdom on to you.
Valentine’s Day For Couples
Let’s face it. Because of the “importance” placed on Valentine’s Day, you can count on one thing: prices are going to be severely jacked up on anything vaguely “romantic”. Those “sales”? The prices were inflated before the discounts were applied. Consumers are expected to spend over $100 on Valentine’s Day gew-gaws alone this year, not factoring in things like fancy meals or wine. Factor in that reservations for the overpriced prix fixe meals at romantic restaurants (with complimentary champagne! Woo!) are going to be hard to come by…
The best thing you could do this year? Stay in. Here is the plan:
First of all: no gifts. No flowers. No paying the holiday premium for things you can get cheaper later on. No, instead you’re going to do something small, heartfelt, homemade and creative. A cute Valentine’s Day sketch for your lover, perhaps. Perhaps a deliberately cheesy hand-made card. If you lack creative skills entirely, then it’s time to regress to your kindergarten days and cut little hearts out of colored paper and hide them amongst your partner’s things that day. If you have the time, drive over and drop it off in person. If nothing else, it’ll make his or her friends jealous.
Now that evening, you and your partner are going to stay home and make a romantic dinner together. Now, you could always go for steaks… but you’re going to end up so full that you’ll be going into a meat-coma before the night is over. You could make an arrangement of traditional aphrodisiacs: oysters, figs, chocolate, promises that it’ll be just the tip… but let’s face it, that’s going to cost a lot and you’re gonna end up smelling (and tasting) like fish before it’s all over.
So instead: you’re making romantic pizza together and your partner is responsible for at least one secret ingredient. Make it with a pre-made crust if you absolutely have to, but there’s a great deal of touchy-feely fun to have making the dough together. Why pizza? Because it’s actually surprisingly easy to make at home, it feels slightly decadent (it’s bad for you!) and it encourages you to eat with your hands… and that playful aspect to it is infectious.
What makes it romantic? You’re doing it all by candlelight and with a bottle of wine. Everything’s more romantic with candlelight and wine.
Afterwards? You ignore all the clean-up and run off to the couch and screw like bunnies.
‘Course, you could always just start with the hot sweaty, house-rocking sex, call for pizza delivery before you hop in the shower, then spend the rest of the evening enjoying your pizza and seeing what playthings Netflix has for you today before deciding on a second round.
Up to you.
- HA! I make a funny! [↩]
- ‘Course, the girl I was dating didn’t like those; as far as she was concerned, the fact that I liked drawing meant that it wasn’t enough of an effort to show I loved her; it wasn’t enough of a sacrifice. Jewelry though… that was a sacrifice. Makes me wonder why I was dating her at all. Oh right, low self-esteem and the belief I couldn’t find anyone else. [↩]