Even when I was romantically involved, amorously entangled or otherwise engaged, I didn’t go in much for Valentine’s Day and all of that manufactured mushiness.
It’s impossible to score a dinner reservation, roses are cliché and everyone starts eating aphrodisiacs as if chocolate-covered strawberries (I’m allergic) can melt one’s troubles away. Plus, you totally end up rating your significant other’s romance-ability, and let’s face it — there’s no living up to the ridiculous expectations set forth in every rom-com ever.
I’ve come to accept that Lloyd Dobler (of “Say Anything …” fame) is just a fantasy, albeit one with a Peter Gabriel soundtrack.
I’ve been relationship-challenged for a few years now (couldn’t you tell?), which just compounds the emotional anxiety that tends to set in this time of year. Suddenly, the world takes on a soft, Vaseline-on-the-lens focus. Hand-in-hand couples (or hand-in-hand-in-hand throuples) shoot me pitiable glances as they knock me out of their way (remember, this is my affection-deprived worldview).
I take myself to the movies in an attempt to hide, but wind up next to an entangled pair making themselves very at home in those trendy lounge seats. The food delivery guy winks as he knowingly hands me my extra-large, three-topping pizza. Oh, he knows I’m in for a romantic evening for two — just me and my ‘za — snuggled on the couch.
Once or twice, I even spent the holiday watching a “Magic Mike”/“50 Shades of Grey” double feature (I’m not proud), downing an entire bottle of something red and tucking into a pint of something ice cream.
And then there’s those “ball-and-chain” types who tell you how the grass is always greener and that there are two sides to every story. “You’re so lucky,” they say. “You get to eat whatever you want for dinner. You get to watch whatever you want on TV. You get to go to bed when you’re tired. Being single is the best!”
No. Wrong. I would definitely benefit from more structure in my dining, viewing and sleeping habits. (If I can’t find a life partner, I could at least use a nanny.)
So no, I don’t love feeling like a social outcast just because no one sends me flowers anymore (I prefer lilacs, for the record).
But I do love my friends, wine and distractions. That’s why a dozen years ago, I threw myself a divorce party on Valentine’s Day weekend. We defrosted and ate my wedding cake, made toasts (or, more likely, roasts) and much wine was poured. No major psychotic episodes were had, and a tradition was born.
The diversionary tactic worked so well, in fact, that it ultimately morphed into an annual “Thank Goodness for Friends Wine & Cheese Soiree.” I’ve now hosted the party either the weekend before or after V-Day almost every year since — and somehow I get through this pink-tinged time of the year.
I should add, though, that I’m not trying to deliver an anti-Love Day manifesto. Just because I’m down on cheap chocolates, long-stems (no thorns attached, naturally) and meet-cute, googly-eyed “stories of us,” it doesn’t mean I’m totally anti-relationship. There might still be hope for me yet.
Take me out on the town, pour me some bubbly. I could be convinced.