Confession: I really hate Valentine’s Day.
If you’re single, then the holiday makes you feel like a loser for not having a Valentine. If you’re in a relationship, the pressure builds to top the last Valentine’s Day gift with something even more spectacular this year. Because if you don’t, it’s obvious you don’t love that person as much as you did 12 months earlier or at Christmas just a few weeks ago.
My loathing of this faux holiday started an early age. It was in elementary school that I first felt the stress that Cupid delivers. Teachers always made us create a shoe box extravaganza for all the Valentine’s cards we would receive. Stickers, aluminum foil, glitter abounded. Forever the perfectionist on such trivial projects, I spent way too many hours giving a f*** about that shoebox that would later end up in the trash.
I also stressed about the perfect Valentine’s cards to give my classmates. Unlike Christmas cards, these cards with hearts and cutesy sayings seemed to imply so much more than “Happy Holiday.” Did I really want to give the girl who harassed me at recess a card that said, “What the world needs now is more love and you”? Giving cards to boys was even more agonizing. I never knew which ones to give to the cute guy in the back row that I liked or to the freaky boy who wouldn’t leave me alone at lunch.
The holiday didn’t let up in junior high. One Valentine’s Day, the doorbell rang. My mother answered it and it was a delivery man from the local florist. Sweet, I thought, my dad had sent her flowers – something he never did. Wrong. The flowers were for me! But the card was signed, “Your Secret Admirer.” Well, what kind of wussy boy did that? And guess what? That guy never ever came forward. (If you are out there reading this, keep your secret to yourself. You’re a few decades too late).
After that, I hated receiving flowers, but that didn’t stop boyfriends from sending me pricy bouquets on Valentine’s Day although I insisted I didn’t want them. Ugh.
My dad was a hit-or-miss kinda guy on Valentine’s Day. When I was younger, he always gave my mom perfume (White Shoulders) and I got a stuffed animal. We both got fantastical boxes of chocolates with silk roses on top. Sometimes, as he got older, he forgot about the chocolates and took us out to dinner. And that was fine by me.
With social media, there’s more pressure on everyone to make Valentine’s Day picture perfect. Everyone posts their presents, flowers and candy on every platform available (stop it, Pinterest!) and stresses how much they love their significant other. If anything, shouldn’t the designated day of so-called love be private between two people? I really do not want to see the lingerie you bought for your sweetie. Less is more.
It’s not that I shun romance, far from it, but rather the crass commercialization of Valentine’s Day puts too much pressure on what should be organic – love. I’d rather someone surprise me on a random day of any month other than February with something that shows that he loves me. A cliché bouquet certainly doesn’t cut it.
You won’t find me this week with the glue gun making homemade Valentines or baking heart-shaped cookies while singing Michael Bublé love songs. I’m not that girl. Instead, I’m likely to be drinking Guinness, listening to Sonic Youth, Duran Duran or The Smiths and saying how I really feel about you without a heart-shaped card in my hand.
Suzi Parker, TBS’ resident mixologist, is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Echo Ellis: Adventures of a Girl Reporter,” “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.
To schedule an interview with Suzi or book her for a speaking engagement, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.