I’m half-convinced that most holidays were invented to reassure the parties concerned that whatever they’re involved in is the way to go. Case in point: Valentine’s Day. Don’t couples already have their anniversary to celebrate? And, apart from the chocolate, aren’t both events usually celebrated in more-or-less the same way? The big difference is that on February 14th The Rest of the World is right there at the next table proving their love by publicly expressing their undying devotion. (I once broke up with a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day after the waiter kept trying to give me his phone number. So much for that theory.)
But Hallmark and Russell Stover and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory keep telling us how important the day is. And through all that repetition we start to believe it ourselves. I know it seems silly, but admit it: clever marketing has left you with a very defined mental image of the Easter Bunny. And surely Jesus exists! Why else would there be so many presents under the tree? Specious arguments, to be sure, but then why do I—single, proud and happy--find myself gritting my teeth when the mid-point of the second month comes ‘round and feeling a patronizing resentment for those paired peoples who have something special to do?
Because “they” have brainwashed me, that’s why. I went in to Li-Lac Chocolates the other day to get a little sweet for myself and made a point of telling Susan-behind-the-counter that I had no Valentine and that the milk chocolate Napoleon Bar was for me and me alone. So what did Susan do? She gift-wrapped the single piece of candy in a little white box with floral paper and a gold metallic ribbon. And she even put a card inside that said “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
And I loved it! Damn you, Susan! You’re nothing but a facilitator!
I guess what it really comes down to is not so much resenting the chance to go ga-ga over some guy (trust me on this one; I really don’t feel the need to be in a relationship) but more the missed opportunity to be creative in a way that is only available to couples. One year I made a meal for Bruce that was entirely red and pink. Pink champagne… kidney bean hummus… red cabbage slaw and beet risotto. And a strawberry soufflé. Honestly, it was a very weird meal, but it made us laugh. Mickey (my cat) couldn’t care less if I dyed her chicken pieces in gravy red, pink or paisley. She’d probably just throw it up, anyway. And then eat it again.
So what do I, a bitter, resentful single person, have planned for this Valentine’s Day? I’m going to join my fellow volunteers at the Empire Pride Agenda table and lobby some state legislators for the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Me and Susan: cut from the same cloth.