Crazy, stupid (apathetic) love
Cupid must be drunk - his (or her) arrows are certainly missing my mark when it comes to Valentine's Day.
It was one of two recent moments that made me realise that the OH and I are not quite aligned with the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day. It was either when we strode into Paperchase together, confronted by rows upon rows of cards proclaiming eternal love (well, I assume that there were rows and rows, as the swathe of men staring at them awaiting inspiration blocked most of my view), before the OH turned to me and pointed out that shopping for Valentine's cards with each other may take the romance out of the gesture somewhat. Or perhaps it was the moment on the 13th February when he confidently presented a card to me over breakfast, a semi-smug smile on his face as he processed that I did not have a card in my hand for him, therefore meaning he was the romance victor - only for me to point out that he was a day early and perhaps he needed to invest in a better calendar.
It certainly seems as though Cupid’s Valentine arrow has gone slightly askew for us. On questioning him as to whether we should do something special for the big night, his suggestion of eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV (seriously, we have many back seasons of Brooklyn 99 to plough through), really cemented the fact that we definitely don’t take this day seriously. Desperate to reclaim something romantic for the day, I insisted on champagne with dinner - which will go nicely with the burger from The Meating Room that we’ll inevitably order as it’s a Monday night and we’ll both be too knackered from work to even care about cooking. (On a side note, I can’t recommend this place for burgers enough in St Albans - they even name their burgers after local places - I’m VERY route one and always go for the Verulamium).
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, we are a romantic couple (cheesy cute nicknames and all that) - it’s just we’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s Day (which, given how giddy I get about Halloween and Christmas, you’d be forgiven if you thought I would definitely have a florist on speed dial and a house decorated like the Tunnel of Love on the 14th day of February). No, our romantic gestures are embedded in our day to day – the tea he makes me every morning for breakfast; the way I stand guard to make sure he can park his work van in the evening on our ludicrously busy road; the way he hugs me whispering the words “live longer, live longer”; the way he always responds to the sentence “I love you” with “I know” (if you know, you know #starwars); the way he allows me to groom him like a monkey – you know, the usual kind of stuff.
But looking back, I’m not sure that I can ever recall a full on, romance heavy, cliché ridden, hideously expensive V Day (ahhhh, Mandy, I think we might be getting to the crux of the reason why you’re not a big fan of the day). I definitely remember receiving over the top cards from my first proper boyfriend (Michael, who used to sign his cards off as “your stallion” 😳). I may have also got him to buy me a rose from one of those random sellers who used to wander around the Bullseye (the best indie night in Basildon. BTW - is that still a thing? Rose sellers in night clubs?) And I’m pretty sure he bought me jewellery as well - but jeez - that was 25 years ago, so the rose-tinted specs that I wear when I think about my love life all those years ago are so heavily tinted, they are practically opaque.
I also recall watching friends and colleagues navigate the pitfalls of traditions around this day. The disappointment of a friend who was presented with a jewellery box only for it NOT to contain the engagement ring she had been waiting 7 years for. The colleague who received a glorious bouquet of long stem red roses in the office – for it to transpire that they weren’t from her husband. The other colleague who had forgotten to buy his wife anything, so ended up taking said bouquet home with him instead. Not to mention how mortifying it was to not get a card from anyone when you were at school - though perhaps not as embarrassing as when you got a card from someone you really didn’t fancy and the whole year found out (hey, these things really matter when you’re fourteen).
What I’m really waiting for is an epic, intertwined mass of love stories to play out in front of me, like the film “Valentine’s Day” - ideally with Ashton Kutcher playing a starring role again - so I can gush over the whimsy of it all and believe in the notion that fate has a romantic plan for us all. Though I suspect fate doesn’t have a multimillion-dollar budget and I’m pretty sure I don’t know that many impossibly good looking people.
So where do you sit on the Valentine's fence? Balls deep in roses, teddy bears and chocolates? Sexy lingerie and a night of passion fuelled by champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries? All the poorer for having spent an evening at a mediocre restaurant, gazing into your loved one's eyes as you pay three times as much for the set menu that you could have eaten at any time of the week? Or perhaps you do something wonderfully perfect, that hits the spot for both you and your OH. Or maybe you’re like us - and you’ll enjoy a pretty decent meal from your local takeaway as you watch US comedy on Netflix, before heading to bed at a ludicrously early time because, you know, work tomorrow... not so much “Netflix and Chill” as “Netflix and Time to get 8 Hours of Solid Sleep”.
However you’re spending the most romantic day of the year, enjoy yourselves - and I should probably round out by saying something like “and use protection, you saucy lot”.