This is the one-week warning for Valentine’s Day. But of course you already know this, seeing as advertisers now maliciously start the countdown months in advance. Not a full week of the New Year had passed when I, seeking laundry detergent at the local drugstore, found myself trapped in an aisle of floor-to-ceiling Valentine’s Day novelties and knick-knacks. It was as if, overnight, Cupid had doused the store in pink and red holiday vomit. Since then, my aggravation with Valentine store displays has been competitively rivaled by the painfully cheesy and generic diamond commercials that incessantly clog radio and television airtime.
These corporate mutations of the romantic holiday have run their course and heralded harmful effects. Thanks to premature buildup and relentlessly tacky advertising, now singles can start their pity-party early. New couples have even more time to feel the awkward strain of how to deal with the love-obsessed holiday. Overly peppy, holiday spirit types have an excuse to spread V-day cheer starting in freakin’ January. And, most noticeably, the hackneyed hype gives the oh-so-counter-culture college population even more fuel for their protest. And don’t think it is just bitter singles that use excessive energy to vilify the holiday (although a single friend of mine did recently express the desire to “burn the holiday down”). I have also heard from many Slug couples something along the lines of “We don’t do Valentine’s Day; it’s just too corporate.”
So here we are — it’s 2008 and Valentine’s Day, at least to our generation, has been beaten into the ground. Thanks in part to overzealous capitalism and in part to the mounting voices of dissent, the holiday has reached a level of ridiculousness from which there is no return. Long gone is the romance of the day that is accredited to Chaucer’s efforts in the 1300s. It is now buried alongside sonnets and other extinct forms of courtship originally used to celebrate.
But, like it or not, the day is fast approaching. When it lands on your doorstep one week from now, how will you choose to greet it?
Will you give in and attempt to salvage the day from within the framework of Russell Stover’s chocolates and Hallmark greeting cards? Will you boycott it completely and treat it like any other passing day? Will you let it beat you up like the sneaky bully it is and end up sadistically drinking your sorrows away?
I would like to suggest avoiding all three of these. True romance is not dead, even if Valentine’s Day is. Let us reclaim the absurdly silly holiday and appropriate it to celebrate love in whatever capacity it appears in our lives and in whatever fashion we feel is most organic and heartfelt. There isn’t anything inherently evil or cheesy about chocolate, flowers and candlelit dinners (fyi: despite protest, girls still LOVE these things), but if you can’t bring yourself to utilize these clichés this Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of other options for you. For example, many people in the GLBTI community now beautifully use the holiday as a platform for discussing marriage equality issues. Local venues host fun V-day alternatives, like the Blue Lagoon’s Singles Dance Party and the Attic’s So High Reggae Night. The Del Mar Theater will be showing “Brokeback Mountain” as the bittersweet midnight movie over Valentine’s weekend.
So whatever your inclination, don’t let this Valentine’s Day be like all Valentines past.