With the successful invasion of all things red and pink, plushy, chocolatey, heart-shaped and meant to drain ones wallet, I have found the inspiration to properly express my feelings about it. To make things perfectly clear, I have absolutely nothing against people choosing to celebrate their love on February 14th, in whatever manner they wish. What is known more commonly as a Catholic holiday originally was observed as a Pagan holiday [Feb. 13-15] called Lupercalia, meant to ward off evil spirits in order to purify the city, thus releasing fertility and purity. It does not take too much time to research these facts, but I do find it amusing how easily they are omitted when being taught about said holiday in Catholic school. This is not a history lesson though, and so I am not going to drone on and on about such things. The point is that I fully understand why people observe this [or any other] holiday, and in no way I am trying to rain on their proverbial parade.
However, there are numerous reasons as to why I avoid celebrating this holiday and others in which traditions have been blurred over time to the point where people don’t even really know why they are doing it any more. The fault lies within the corporations who eagerly churn out merchandise and pack it into the stores so quickly that there is no breathing room between one ‘holiday’ and the next. Pumpkins are still sadly rotting on stoops while pine trees are being shoved into plastic nets. Just as one successfully remembers that the year is anew and becomes adjusted to writing out the date, finally getting those remaining pieces of glitter and confetti out of the carpet, there comes what I feel is forced romance.
Why do we feel it necessary to express a natural human emotion with material things? This question has boggled my mind for nearly a decade now, and I have yet to receive a reasonable answer. Showering someone special in your life with love and affection is totally awesome. After all, who doesn’t want to hear those three little words? What bothers me the most is the incessant need of tangible items and translating the meaning behind them in order to justify their purchase. For example, the larger the bouquet of flowers or more expensive the gift somehow equates to the magnitude of love one has for another. Pardon me for being so blunt, but I find this practice to not only be quite ridiculous, but also full of bullshit. By these standards, if someone cannot afford the luxury of gifts, then that means they don’t love you as much as they say they do.
This became most obvious to me in high school, when girls would proudly display their hauls and endlessly gush about how much so-and-so loved them because they received flowers, balloons, candy, stuffed animals, cards or other tchotchke that surely held little to no meaning once the ‘holiday’ had passed. It almost seemed as though they were vying for the greatest social status and even bragging to the point where it became very annoying. Tears flowed if they did not receive exactly what their spoiled princess hearts desired, claiming so-and-so could not possibly love them without proper gifts. Of course I laughed at this, shaking my head while they desperately wiped mascara-stained cheeks and demanded to know why their alleged boyfriend didn’t make an extravagant purchase, meanwhile some other girl was happily gloating over the fuzzy white teddy bear that had just appeared in her locker.
Over the years, this spectacle became more and more absurd, to the point where even the sight of heart-shaped candy made me groan with disgust. While I had once enjoyed the saccharine sweets bestowed on me by my father along with sentiments scrawled in a card, I now find myself wanting to smash those cute little buggers into unrecognizable pieces. There seems to be a severe lack of genuine compassion, empathy, fervor, imagination, passion or tenderness in relationships because they have been replaced by materialistic things. Love has become sanitized and pre-packaged for convenience. Why waste time pouring out emotion when you can buy someone else’s words and just easily glide a pen across the cardboard to add that oh so very personal touch of your signature?
There are many who do not understand my resistance of this ‘holiday’, and thus chalk it up to jealousy. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I have had quite a few relationships during V’Day and it was agreed that there would be no participating in what was ‘expected’ behavior. To the contrary, I enjoyed dressing in black and doing something – anything – completely unrelated to public displays of love. The best memories I have of such events involve my late friend Jon, who held total animosity towards anything that was corporate-fueled. He was of the opinion that people should not have to feel forced to buy things in order to express their love, nor should those who are single have to experience being left out, so to speak. Then again, for the six glorious years that we were friends, close enough that I called him brother, we knew there was an unspoken love between us that did not have to be expressed through palpable objects. Spending time with each other, sharing stories and just existing in a comforting space was enough, and often more than I could have ever asked for. With Jon I was not only safe, but I always had this sense of understanding the bond between us, even if I find it difficult to put into words.
At the present moment, I am in a relationship and still insist that my significant other make no attempt to practice the so-called traditions that V’Day dictates. There is no doubt in my mind that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. There may have been others that I shared intimate moments with, but none of them aside from Jon who spoke such meaningful words. When you are told on a daily basis that you have made someone the happiest man in the world, what else do you really need? Truly I am fortunate to have this man in my life, who not only appreciates me as a whole, but also fully comprehends the dedication I have to my lifestyle as a Carny. This is something that does not come easily, and certainly others have made statements that they honestly could not stand behind. Having that unconditional appreciation is one of the most valuable things in the world to me, and certainly it would be impossible to capture the sentiment with paper, confections, jewelry or whatever else people exchange on V’Day.
In the next week, I will be posting the Anti-V’Day sentiments of years past in the vain hope that it will stimulate some thought in others and perhaps even persuade them to follow suit in protesting the corporate side of this ‘holiday’. Most of all, I take great pride in displaying the fact that the thoughts expressed in this entry are nothing new; I have held these ideas for quite some time now, with no sign of changing my mind any time soon. There is no envy of those who receive lavish gifts, just pity for the wallets and those who are sucked into being consumers without questioning that which they are purchasing. At a juncture where many have been unemployed or underemployed and the almighty dollar is indeed in short supply, we should not have this overwhelming desire to buy into complete bullshit, and instead rely on those natural instincts to properly express ourselves. Chivalry and romance is very much alive, so long as we allow it to be, so how about we focus on perpetuating those ideas instead of blindly consuming.