Thursday 19 April 2018

Nightwatch: On Modern-day romance

Baz Ashmawy

Okay, so the traditional definition of Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love and affection between intimate companions. Truth is, it doesn't seem to work on me anymore -- and I'm one of the romantic ones.

I've become immune to its overdressed façade, with its sentiment dressed up in such a gaudy ensemble it reminds me of some loud American tourist in blue trousers with his shirt unbuttoned way too low. It doesn't smell fresh and honest; it smells like Old Spice and big, fluffy 70s moustaches.

Once you've passed your 14th birthday, there's something just fundamentally wrong with Valentine's Day. How it hasn't become extinct is beyond me. I blame Hallmark and the Yanks for yet again sticking their big, corporate oars into something that was perfectly sweet and tasteful and turning it into squeezy cheese.

Every year at this time, I feel a bit like I'm nine again and my mum is dragging me by the ear to apologise to the old man with the big beard at number 26 who I've been tormenting and calling Moses. Well, if you're going to sport a Santa-like beard and have two dogs, two cats and a parrot, what do you expect? I have to admit it was always something of an empty apology for that junior me. Likewise, on Valentine's, we just make a completely fabricated hullabulloo without very much true thought or meaning in our gestures. We only do it because cupid is holding our fingers in a blender like he's working for Tony Soprano.

Don't get me wrong, I do understand that this is a good opportunity to send people you fancy secret cards and anonymous notes. That's cool and a bit of fun -- if not also a little scary. I have a friend who's been sending Valentine cards and flowers to a woman he works with for four years and has never even hinted of his identity to her. Where's the logic there? All the girls I know say "awe, he's a hopeless romantic" ... Eh, no! He's just hopeless and a stalker. Don't lurk around silently in the shadows like some weirdo who should be dressed in a cape. Get out there and get noticed. I'm not saying he should skip into the office dressed in wings and a red mankini, before pressing his near-naked body up against the glass wall in her office. But at least subtly let her know it's you. She's single, what can you lose, man?

It just frustrates me because romantic declarations any other day of the year mean so much more, but on Valentine's Day they're watered down like vodka in a cheap Greek nightclub. We can make a gesture when love is strong-arming us like a Serbian doorman over a candle-lit table. Real romance is the surprise of someone taking a very normal ordinary day, or even just a moment, and showing in the smallest way how appreciated the other person in their life is. That's what makes it romantic. The natural, unprovoked thoughtfulness of it.

So ladies, if you're stuck in an office listening to some annoying girl who spends the whole day sniffing her bouquet of red roses and bragging on about how amazing her relationship is, take comfort in the fact that anyone who goes on and on about how their relationship is perfect is usually trying to convince people (including themselves) of something that doesn't really exist.

Romance isn't about money, it's about feelings. And even though presents are always nice, they mean a lot more if they're not given at gunpoint.

I, my friends, will avoid Valentine's not because I'm cheap or not romantic, but just because I don't like to being told how and when I should romance my beloved.

Anyway, it's not February 14 you need to worry about, it's the other 364 days of the year that you need to be romantic, they're the days that count ... gulp!

Irish Independent

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