I’m not embittered, haven’t been jilted at the altar, nor am I replete with devastating psychological scars from many a lonely February 14th sipping noodle soup underneath a tattered and homely blanket while crocheting a new outfit for Whiskers the most portly of my many cats. So why, oh why do I think that Valentine’s Day is perhaps one of the biggest scams going? I can’t help but take inspiration from Hamlet’s Ophelia who perhaps voices one of the first of many woeful literary asides mentioning Valentine’s Day, and at least according to my own rewriting of that great Shakespearean tragedy her madness and later drowning can all pretty much be flung on the doorstep of this dreadful and regrettable holiday.
The reasons for my diatribe are quite frankly that I believe in all seriousness that Valentine’s Day is a complete and utter sham masquerading as the alpha and omega of lovers' days. Rather than a day of heart-fluttering and butterflies, for many it is one of gut wrenching disappointment and the utmost dejection. Those not strong enough to resist the ineluctable desire for conformity and anonymity become pariahs even by their own evaluation. And if that wasn't bad enough the Übermenschen and Überfrauen amongst us who choose to rebel against the wave of mediocrity poised to engulf and eviscerate us at any moment, are pretty much assured marginalization and to be ostracised by society’s sheep as heartless, selfish misogynists and misanthropes respectively. Calumny and slander is what I reply to the drones that spout off the usual trite and unthinking litany!
Another one of the things that really 'grinds my gears' as Family Guy's Peter Griffin is so fond of saying, is that we've all been corralled into lauding the inane and insipid routine of sending a torrent of pre-programmed cards, which are just that. We've been lulled into forgoing any creative effort, even for those whom we supposedly claim our undying love. Valentine's Day cards are what microwave dinners are to food and culinary talent!
We need to recognise the undeniable corporate agenda which is fuelling this industry and rather than helping relationships along, it is in fact hindering them. Firstly, retailers have exhaustively commodified Valentine's Day beyond any legitimate proportions, setting up peoples' expectations by means of an onslaught of marketing gimmicks and enticing fictions. Expectations then inevitably crash back to earth when the spouse fails to live up to such inflated demands. Secondly, the myriad of bandwagon-jumping corporate bloodsuckers disseminate the delusion that you can slap a price tag on love, while at the same time generating a bountiful source of revenue in a slow financial quarter. The diamond industry was particularly ingenious in this regard, but their MO is clear for anyone who chooses to see through the web of sophisms claimed as endearing.
It’s greatly tragic that we need the likes of Hallmark to celebrate our love for our better half. How many times have you seen whether in fiction or real life one spouse, usually the guy, haphazardly throwing together out of some disingenuous sense of obligation to convention, a bunch of mangled flowers, a half melted and gooey box of chocolates, just to placate a formidable spouse, who herself only cares whether she receives something so as to goad her single friends in re-examining the overwhelming disappointments that they actually have the gall to call the vicissitudes of their lives. The near war-cry made by these Boudica-like women, 'hubby you’re in for a beating and no nookie unless you deliver the goods!', against their so-called friends is that it’s far better to be in a stale relationship than be single, lonely and destined to spinsterhood. This hasty assumption is made by that host of co-dependents (you know full-well who you are!) incapable of living fulfilling and content lives themselves. Valentine’s Day like so many other conventions in our culture is just another instance of our near congenital compulsion to ‘keep up with the Joneses'.
Many guys we can be sure make a minimum of effort so that they are rewarded in turn with favours in the bedroom, while more often than not the girls just what something to brag about and one more reason to sneer at their friends. Justifiably so, many feel marginalised as smug couple upon smug couple vie to broadcast their love, not out of a romantic sentiment but rather the desperate attempt to grab validation and approval on the battlefield for status, desirability and sex appeal.
Where are the authenticity and the heartfelt emotion? Is it all just blather or are we not supposed to strive to show and express our love and care for our better half each and every day? Are a stuffed, crushed velvet heart and a wilting bunch of red roses really a testament to those couples who experience day in and day out a deep-rooted care and affection for one another? The short answer is a resounding NO! Many a Valentine’s Day date is akin to a dress rehearsal where the main event never takes place and yet another instance where societal conventions and mores dictate when and how we are supposed to feel. If we succumb to the corporate agenda with its corporate itinerary we are destroying the remaining vestiges of spontaneity, creativity and imagination that still courses through our veins.
P.S. This was an experiment in polemic - don't believe the hype!
© Eskandar Sadeghi
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