I do the same thing every Valentine’s Day, whether I’m single or coupled up, and that’s cram chocolates into my face on my couch all by myself. If this seems like a selfish way to spend a day dedicated to love, that’s because it totally is a selfish way to spend a day dedicated to love. That’s how I like it. I make a point to let those close to me know I love them every single day of the year except for February 14. That day is for me. I call it strategic self-centeredness.
I start the day off by looking in the mirror and saying “Hey, John, I love you.” Then, later that night, I put on my best bathrobe, power up Netflix, and take care of good ol’ numero uno. Anyone who doesn’t do this is a sucker, in my humble opinion.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, eat all the chocolates you want. Personally, I fill a basket with the tackiest chocolates I can find and then, at home, rip them open with my bare hands and pop them into my mouth, one by one, like a hard-to-please empress. If I don’t like one, I toss it over my shoulder. You may not know this, but life is like a heart-shaped box of Valentine’s Day chocolates: cheap, sticky, and every third or fourth chocolate is disgusting.
I am not heartless, of course. On Valentine’s Eve, I’ll call my dear old mother and tell her how much I love her. At some point during Valentine’s Week, I’ll take my significant other out to dinner. This year, we will call that special occasion “Thursday.” But both of them know that Valentine’s Day is when I love myself. They respect that I prefer to stay in, stare at my flatscreen, and make myself sick with chocolate-covered cherries, which are my favorite.
This is love, of course. There is no greater display of real love than giving the gift of personal and emotional space and remembering to return the favor. A close second is, probably, the gift of a foot rub after a long day at work.
If you’ve read this far, you might think I’m some sort of blood red Grinch. And to that I say: Yes, yes I am. Mostly because I know that love does not require flowers or chocolates or fancy dinners. Love requires courage and compassion and patience. Love is knowing if they like soy or almond milk in their coffee. Love is listening and asking questions and listening more. Love is laughter and whispers and late-night conversations about the secrets of the universe.
If your partner loves flowers — which are just the sexual organs of the vegetable kingdom — then, by god, buy them flowers, randomly, on any day, because everyday you spend with the person you love is a special day.
I just don’t think much of our national day of mandatory romance. It feels forced and confused: The Valentine’s Day mascot is a creepy, trigger-happy, pagan god baby who’s, um, named for a kindly saint who was gruesomely martyred marrying Christians behind the Roman emperor’s back? Is this a holiday about long-term committed relationships or desperately trying to get laid?
I actually think Valentine’s Day’s origins are more primal: Ancient humanity needed a night during the cold, dark days of winter to remind people not to murder each other while blizzards howl. Fast forward tens of thousands of years to modern times when Big Flower took over. Also, our civilization is built on a foundation of candy-related rituals and we needed one between Christmas and Easter, which is sort of like Pastel Pink Halloween.
When I was single I use to feel pressure to have a date on Valentine’s Day. I mean, Cupid is basically hunting down lonely people. I once asked someone to be my Valentine the day before and we clung to each other the next night like we were each other’s life preserver. It use to feel like, if I didn’t have a date, I had a red ‘V’ tattooed on my forehead, placed there just so strangers could stop and point at me with crooked fingers. I don’t know if things have changed. Maybe Valentine’s Day has, after all these years, become a low-stress, open-hearted night of honest displays of affection. But I seriously doubt it.
This is why I choose to spend Valentine’s Day alone, my fingers sticky with caramel and milk chocolate. February 14th is just another excuse to inhale sweets. Not that I need an excuse. I also don’t need an excuse to say “I love you.”