Today is Valentine’s Day. All across America this morning, men were lying in bed next to their significant other, staring at the ceiling like Martin Sheen in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now, their inner monologue berating them for not coming up with an elaborate enough spectacle to show their love.
Diamond commercials are playing nonstop on every channel, taunting them for not pulling out a rock that cost a 3 bedroom house and the right hands of 4 Sierra Leoneans in the middle of Piazza San Marco in Venice while doves fly off around them and violins play. If you haven’t booked a table for tonight at a restaurant months ago, forget about it. You have a better chance of getting a buddy pass on to Air Force One than getting a reservation today.
As you curse your laziness you realize it could be worse: you could be single. For the single person Valentine’s Day fills the role that Hawthorne’s scarlet “A” served for adulterous Puritans. It singles you out as an object of pity and patronizing by couples who shake their heads and walk on hand in hand, away from you before your loneliness rubs off. Desperate lovers are probably afraid of joining the ranks of the single if they don’t come up with a way to celebrate that’s better than whatever they have planned.
Who made up these rules? To me, Valentine’s Day has become for lovers what Christmas has become for families; a sort of make up test to compensate for taking them for granted the rest of the year. Love, real love, is an ever evolving thing and it’s not always romantic. It’s often annoying, stressful, and inconvenient as much as it is pleasureable. It’s loving someone in spite of the things about them that annoy the hell out of you.
If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, so what? It’s better to be single than couple up with someone you have no connection to because society says you should. There’s nothing wrong with being single either by choice or by circumstance, and there’s nothing wrong with learning to love yourself before going out into the world to try and love someone else.
If you are in a couple there’s nothing wrong with showing the world how much you love that person today, but there’s also nothing wrong with sitting home cuddled up next to each other and feeling secure in the fact that you are both there for each other. If you’re very lucky, that’s more than enough.