Uncategorized | February 17, 2004

In the midst of plowing through abolitionist readings and the totalitarian society of Brave New World for my literature classes, I was surprised that it was nearly February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Most people, depending on their current situation, see it either as a day set aside to cherish one’s significant other, or to remind all the single people of their loneliness. However, on a Valentine’s Day several years ago, that was, for me, no different than any other day that year. I came to the conclusion that Valentine’s Day could be extremely useful for the single person, and actually has the potential to cause more stress for the non-singles.

Allow me to explain. For a person in a relationship, especially a guy, the time between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day is the gauntlet. Of all the holidays, these three packed together in a three month spurt are by far the most demanding, and can wear down more men then a Russian winter. If you can make it through this part of the year unscathed, you have accomplished quite a feat. During Thanksgiving and Christmas you will inevitably meet or hang out with all your significant other’s ‘interesting’ family members. This is the first part of your tribulations. The second is the tradition of gift-giving at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Although this sounds like a great idea, it is often times spoiled by the expectations placed on it, and in my case, by women who will give no hint whatsoever as to what they might like. I believe this would also work for the guy who has everything. I have devised two strategies deal with the inherent complexities of gift-giving. They are called knowing the enemy and the three pronged attack. Knowing the enemy should be employed first, and is simply talking to your counterparts who are buying for your girlfriend’s friends and making sure you buy slightly better gifts. Knowing the enemy will allow you to hone the three prong attack, which is basically covering all the bases. Rather than buying a single big gift, I buy a variety of gifts, each of which serves as a prong in the attack. The first prong is a useful and personalized gift, such as a CD or a movie you know she likes or something that fits into one of her hobbies or interests. The second prong is a cliché gift that almost any girl is sure to like, such as chocolates, jewelry, or flowers (depending on the current holiday and the thickness of your wallet). The first two prongs are sufficient in most cases, but the third prong seals the deal. The third prong is something for both of you, something suggestive. It can be something sensual like massage oil, or some kinky fur-lined handcuff, on up to…well why don’t you just keep that to yourself. Of course, one must use discretion when selecting the third prong. Nothing can spoil a good relationship like revealing a fetish too soon, not that I would, uh, know anything about that. If you stick to knowing the enemy and the three pronged attack, gift-giving shouldn’t be a problem. As for her family, you’re on your own there.

For the singles out there, you may be thinking that despite the situation I’ve just elaborated on, being single on Valentine’s Day is totally bunk. However, Valentine’s Day can be used as a tool; a prompt once a year to evaluate your romantic situation, and not just for singles. As Hunter S. Thompson said in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it is a time ‘for an agonizing reappraisal of the whole scene.’ This is why this time of year is the gauntlet if you’re in a relationship; one last chance to make up for three months of offending relatives and giving lame gifts. Your head’s on the chopping-block and you have one last chance to redeem yourself. However, for singles, it’s more of a forced opportunity to consider what interests you may have in your life already, or as I was a few years ago, thanking your lucky stars that you got out of the mess you were in last year at this time. For me, my Valentine’s Day has gotten better each year. Though it may sound odd, in retrospect I cherish the ones I spent unattached most. I think I feel this way because I realized that, for me, it’s better to be alone with than with the wrong person, and be able to look back on that yearly milestone and see solitude instead of the unhappiness that lurked beneath it all. It is when I reflect on those times that I get to know myself better and realize what I really want from a partner. After all, what good is a three pronged attack if you’re wasting on the wrong person?