With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I decided to ask my true love for what I wanted most: a can of Elnett hairspray. Forget a box of chocolates and overpriced roses; I much prefer a large bag of Maltesers and a bouquet of daisies anyway. He then looked at me in awed silence, waiting for the punchline -- and then it came: Oh, and I have a $3 off coupon you can use when you buy it, 'k?
The thought of Valentine's Day makes me nervous even if I had decided a while back that it was a"holiday" created purely for commercial purposes. It's a day fraught with overhyped promises and impossible expectations; after all, how can anyone possibly prove the depth and breadth of one's love in one day?
Restaurants are unfailingly overbooked, which makes intimate conversation difficult at best -- that is, if you do manage to get a reservation. Then once there your only option is to order the prix fixe menu, comprised of items you'd probably not put together if you had a choice and that would cost less if you had them on any other day.
I've worked retail for so long that I know only too well the face of a man (or woman) who needs to buy a last-minute Valentine's Day gift. It doesn't matter where I worked at the time, the look of panic is the same whether it was at Victoria's Secret or at Trader Joe's (PS: flowers at TJ's often cost less than what you can get at the flower market). I always try to say something like, "You did good here" or "Great gift!" to try to assuage the nerves of the poor, crazed soul.
Despite the number of February 14s that have passed by in my life, I still do remember the days when I dreamed of having someone to spend Valentine's Day with. When I was 14, for instance, my bestfriend and I decided to give each other flowers just so we wouldn't feel so left out. Before the big day came, however, a cute boy swept her off her feet and handed her a nice, big bouquet to boot. I got nuthin'. But that all changed the following year, and since then there have been only a handful of Valentine's days I spent on my own.
I have this nagging suspicion that Valentine's Day really happens at the office -- when deliveries from the nearby flower shop start streaming in and the much-awaited call from the receptionist arrives. "There's something here for you downstairs," the sweet voice says, with a teasing punctuation at the end. By the early afternoon a stroll around the office resembles a trip to a wedding chapel or a funeral parlor (however you choose to see it). Even the receptionist has a floral arrangement sitting on the front desk, so large that you can't see her beaming face.
One year I told my (now ex-)husband that I didn't want any flowers from him. "Don't bother," I said. "Let's save the money for dinner out this weekend or something." On that Valentine's Day, as a result, my desk was one of the few unadorned. I felt like that kid in school who happens to be celebrating her birthday with a couple of others in class -- but I'm the only one whose mom didn't bring a cake or cupcakes for everyone. I decided then and there that V-Day is not so much about showing your love best, it's about showing your love ALSO.In fact, I already know that on that day my Facebook newsfeed will be strewn with photos of gorgeous bouquets, thanks to joyful status updates by friends. After all, in this age of social media, does something really happen if it's not shared with everyone else? That being said, I may just be tempted to post a picture of my new can of hairspray. It won't be as pretty, but that's okay: I'll have more than just a can full of air to celebrate this faux holiday. I'll also have the one with the sheepish grin, presenting the newspaper coupon at the drugstore check-out counter, trying to make his girl very happy this year.