That was it. After brushing off my first solo Valentine’s Day in as long as I could remember with relative grace and nonchalance, it took one newspaper article to push me over the edge. I had, until this point, tolerated a marathon of lame Valentine’s Day advertising, tacky point-of-sale displays and questions about how many dates I have (none) with little more than a roll of my eyes. But then came this; the promise that I could live to be 200 years old with perfect skin, enviable intelligence and superhero-like cancer fighting abilities – if only I wasn’t disqualified for suffering the dirty affliction known as singlehood. And I’m pretty sure they cross-sell a scrub for that too. In truth, I wouldn’t know. Read it? Oh no. I just huffed indignantly, gave it the finger and recognised my metamorphosis into a crazy woman that gestures at inanimate objects.
I thought I was cynical about Valentine’s Day when I was in a relationship; now I realise that was kind of like feeling cynical about the Liberal Party before Tony Abbott was actually in power. It takes on a whole new meaning when you find yourself knee-deep in the trenches, deflecting looks of unnecessary pity from well-meaning couples like strikes against your armour (and your country selling off half its natural resources to the highest bidder).
You see, even prior to this heightened dislike for the occasion I was somewhat of a Valentine’s Day Grinch. I worked within the marketing team of a national gift company where I was responsible for crafting clever advertising messages (AKA thinly veiled guilt trips for people in relationships) and even better, we became an inbound customer service call centre the week of Valentine’s Day. So I generally felt nothing but contempt for the occasion and the entire human race by the time 5pm rolled around on the 14th of February. My last partner was equally as romantic, so we killed two fat baby cupids with one stone by also calling Valentine’s Day our anniversary and making a no-present rule for both. Instead, we’d enjoy a nice dinner together – he’d sometimes surprise me with a single red rose and I’d sometimes surprise him with a six pack of beer – and that was just the way we liked it.
And while I have little time for the commercialisation, I have to admit that I really looked forward to my Valentine’s Day dinners. Maybe because time spent with people we care about is what Valentine’s Day should be all about. Or, more likely, it was my unparalleled love of food and the fact that making it to a dinner table that night signalled the end of my customer service duties for another year.
In any case, my inner argumentative child decided that I shouldn’t have to forgo Valentine’s Day dinner just because I’m single. I refused to feel like a leather-skinned, half-brained cancer breeding ground thanks to a Sunday Herald Sun lift-out. I would take myself out to dinner, thank you very much! You’ve worked hard at your relationship and want to celebrate it? You’ll hear no complaints from me (provided you keep the PDA to a minimum). But I’ve worked hard to remain independent and genuinely content with my own company in a world that tells me I’d be TRULY happy if only I was a little thinner, a little less pasty, a little taller, a little more married and didn’t have that bump on my nose from the New Year’s Eve I walked into a door while yelling at a guy I’d just kissed. And I want to celebrate THAT.
I could already smell the tom yum soup, the yellow tofu curry and the looks of incredulousness from coupled-up patrons that I planned to snub my nose at superiorly. That was, until I checked my bank account and found a pitiful 50 cents in it. I did, luckily, find a pack of old Starbursts from last year in the back of Mum and Dad’s pantry, so that’s something to look forward to…
Not to put ideas in your head, but if you are planning on showering me with secret admiration today, I’m accepting cash, cheques and Coles Myer gift cards.