The Opposite Sex 

Heartless

Heartless

Dear B&D,

Valentine’s Day sucks when you’re single. I’d like to take those little candy hearts with the words on them and ram them down the throat of every woman in my office who is about to receive a dozen roses, complete with dangling, idiotic stuffed animal. Why is Hallmark insistent on reinforcing the fact that I’m alone?

—Single Girl, Sylvan Park

DANNY: Honey, you are driving your bitter bus in the wrong direction. Look, guys don’t get all excited about Valentine’s Day. They don’t say things like, ”Oh goody! I must away to Hallmark at once to find the perfect card!“

No, no, NO. Their shoulders slump, and they thank God that the 1-800-FLOWERS commercial reminded them, or they would have forgotten about the day completely. No guy I know is ever happy about Feb. 14 because the pressure is huge: He knows that everyone is watching to see what he gets for his girlfriend.

Even if you weren’t single, you’d still hate the holiday. It’s hard to get excited about your three roses and wilted baby’s breath when Janie-Two-Cubes-Over gets a dozen that come floating in on Mylar balloons. That’s because Valentine’s Day isn’t really about romance and eros—it’s just a shorter name for ”Your Love for Me Is Measured in How Much You Spend Day.“ What could be emptier than knowing that Boyfriend got you something because he had to? The real romantics know that when you care about someone, you don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to show it.

Any idiot with $29.95 can buy some flowers. The best Valentine’s Day present I’ve ever received came from my high-school boyfriend. He took candy hearts and glued them on poster board so that they spelled out ”I Love You.“ It probably cost him all of $4, but it still warms my heart 11 years later. You can keep your roses and your lingerie and your heart-shaped Whitman’s Sampler—creativity is the key.

Being single myself, the day doesn’t really get to me as much as random instances that remind me I don’t have anyone. For example, I cried unabashedly last night watching the last scene of NYPD Blue. When Ricky Shroeder kissed Mary and gently put his hand to her face, I thought I would burst a tear duct.

As far as being alone goes, I can’t deny the fact that singlehood seems amplified on Valentine’s Day. I say do whatever makes you feel best to counteract those feelings of bitterness or loneliness. Work out extra hard, buy a spring sweater, eat an entire cookie bouquet—whatever works for you.

Better yet, concentrate on doing something nice for the people who do care about you. I’ve already received two Valentine’s cards in the mail from friends, and that meant more to me than if UPS had delivered a life-size teddy bear from Dylan McDermott. If you get all caught up in comparing what other people are getting to what you’re not, you’re just giving in to Hallmark’s whole pumped-up marketing campaign to turn love into a consumer commodity. Just treat yourself well. Others will follow.

BEN: I’ve got to agree with Danny on this point: Valentine’s Day, Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays—they’re nothing more than a marketer’s wet dream. Unfortunately for us, they’re a necessary evil: If we didn’t have holidays, we might never get around to celebrating anything. Still, I can see where you’re coming from, reader. Day upon day, during late January and early February, commercials are selling romantic happiness in every shape and size, from cards to diamonds. And you get to live with the knowledge that no one will be buying any of it for you.

But you’ve got to suck it up on this one, and you’re not alone. In fact, I’d argue you’re actually kind of lucky. You see, the only thing worse than not having anyone on Valentine’s Day is being forgotten on Valentine’s Day.

Men can claim many talents: spotting flags in football games before they happen, the ability to write our name in the snow, etc. Chief among these is the ability to place our heads up our asses, especially when it comes to women. Once we’re in a relationship, we tend to drift into complacency. If nothing seems wrong and you don’t complain, we just assume everything is all right. We’ll just let the time pass without ever letting you know how we feel about you.

Part of the reason for this is because we forget that relating to a woman is different than relating to a man. Men never feel the need to reassure each other about their relationship. It’s always an understood: You’re my friend, I love you, I’m loyal to you, I’m there if you ever need me. It never takes more than a look or a nod of the head to acknowledge these facts between us.

The ladies, on the other hand, need a little reminder every now and again. Well, they need a lot of reminders every now and again. If neglect is a man’s forte, uncertainty is a woman’s. Therefore, in an act of compassion, the ordainers of St. Patrick’s Day (valid excuse to get drunk), Independence Day (valid excuse to blow things up), and President’s Day (any excuse for the government to take a day off) have given women Valentine’s Day: a lovely winter holiday to remind men to show their female companions, ”Yes, we remember you exist and you mean the world to us.“

Because otherwise, we’ll just go on about our lives with the mistaken assurance that you always know we love you. So quit thinking of yourself and the fact that nobody else is stroking your ego this year. Hopefully, your time will come. And when it does, those pretty boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers will be the antidote to all the years you spent Valentine-less.

That’s the point of (and the problem with) these meaningless holidays: They aren’t so meaningless when you’re depending on somebody to remember them.

Got a question for Danny and Ben? E-mail them at oppositesex@nashvillescene.com.

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