For my sister-in-law Jessica, February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day, but also her birthday. This is fortunate for my brother, because it means one less present to get and one less gift-giving date to remember.
That sounds horrible I know, but it’s not that he’s cheap or lazy; he’s just a typical male. Men can’t plan or remember things as well as women can. Especially in the throes of a Super Bowl post-party depression.
Few holidays require the kind of independent planning and remembering skills that Valentine’s Day does. Consider: Dinner reservations have to be made months in advance. Jewelry needs to be considered and sized weeks in advance (and bought before the mall closes). Babysitters must be scheduled way ahead of time. And if you think greeting card options are depressing on any given day, try getting a decent Valentine’s Day card the morning of February 14. All that’s left are inane sexual innuendos and kissing chimpanzees.
To be fair, women give as well as receive on Valentine’s Day. If they didn’t, the boxer shorts industry would be in big trouble. But if you’re educated by television, movies, and advertising as I am, you know that most of the focus is on the man, often a husband, invariably in the position of making up for past transgressions.
Face it, why is Valentine’s Day scheduled so soon after the Super Bowl? In a word: Payback. The message in a man’s Valentine’s gift is: “Dear, I’ve been a pretty mediocre mate for many months now, so here’s a card with two chimpanzees making out and my name scribbled underneath. Umm, can we have a ‘date
My wife and I are pretty pragmatic about V-Day traditions. We probably won’t go out the night of February 14, but sometime thereafter. We no longer give show-stopping Valentine’s Day gifts to each other, but revel in buying our kids candy hearts and paper valentines for school. After all, nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” more than a Red Power Ranger delivering a roundhouse kick into a squid monster’s groin.
For the record, Valentine’s Day is based on the story of a third-century priest named Valentine. Around the year 270, Emperor Claudius II banned marriages because he decided single men made better soldiers than married men. It’s understandable because single men can use both their hands for fighting, whereas
married men always need one hand free to hold the remote.
Well, Valentine thought that was pretty bogus, and started performing illegal marriages waaaaaaay before performing illegal marriages became all the rage. Take that, San Francisco!
Next thing you know, Valentine, “friend of lovers,” gets tossed in the slammer, where he meets a charming young blind woman, as is often the case with the newly-incarcerated. Valentine miraculously heals her blindness, after which she immediately says, “Hey, I thought you said you looked like George Clooney!”
Unfazed, he writes her a farewell message: “From Your Valentine.” The phrase sticks with us forever. Not so everlasting is Val, who gets executed on February 24, 270.
This paved the way to Patron Sainthood, and St. Valentine became the inspiration for a February 14 Roman festival during which young Romans wrote affectionate greetings to girls they liked or simply wished to enslave. This went on for hundreds of years until the sketchy “St. Hallmark” appeared on the scene, charged them a couple of bucks each for pre-made cards, and introduced them to the unfunny concept of necking chimpanzees. The rest is history. For more details, check out VH-1’s “I Love the 270’s!”
Thinking of St. Valentine’s story has inspired me to break with pragmatic tradition and go out on Valentine’s Day night, one way or another. Maybe I’ll bring my wife, too. If all goes well, I’ll bring sight to a couple of blind people just for the heck of it.