Because my editors are forever trying to get me arrested or killed or confined to some sort of reinforced bed, this column was supposed to drive a stake through the throbbing heart of Valentine’s Day.
Might as well throw a grenade into my marriage too, right guys?
You see, the Valentine’s Day backlash is building, or so the thinking goes.
Restaurants are mobbed and quality suffers. People are tiring of spending billions of dollars every year on literal garbage.
And every time the name of a famous man you haven’t heard from in a while turns up in the news you have to frantically scour the Internet to see if he too is some sort of pervert, or just dead.
Galentine’s Day is sounding better and better.
So what if the holiday traces all the way back to the 14th century, when Chaucer included Valentine’s Day in a poem? Now, every day is some kind of dubious fake holiday. Today isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Ferris Wheel Day, according to the National Day Calendar, because mid-February is the perfect time to sit high in the air on a rickety mid-century contraption.
Chaucer? I barely know ’er.
But the truth — and this may be the most subversive thing I’ve ever written — is that I like Valentine’s Day. And I happily celebrate it every year.
How much do I like it? Let me tell you about my Wednesday.
(Aside to Jill: Stop reading now.)
And then — THEN — after waiting around in the slush, I took the bus back to Harvard Square and waited in the unspeakable line at Milk Bar to buy three (3) cookies.
I finally slogged home with my bags of candy and cookies and fancy cheese, a baguette protruding from my backpack like a glutenous Cupid’s arrow in some sort of urban quiver.
Why do I do this? It’s not just because I love my wife dearly, which I do, or because she expects or demands it, which she most certainly does not.
It is because, as a man who is not particularly good at verbal displays of affection (my “love language” is pretending I didn’t hear what you said), it’s actually nice to have a corporate-prescribed occasion on which to write heartfelt messages inside felt-heart cards.
To borrow the kind of stilted double-speak favored by the corporate nightmare-people who turned this holiday into an economic juggernaut: Valentine’s Day is not a problem. It’s an opportunity.
Because even in an era more accepting of male sensitivity and vulnerability, it can still be hard to tell the people you love how you feel as often as you should. It’s the kind of thing that too easily gets lost between paying bills and chasing children and deciding who should take out the trash.
Should we, regardless of sex or gender, get better at that? Absolutely! Will we? Well, we can try.
But until we succeed, at least there’s Valentine’s Day.