Modern Life: The seven types of Valentine's Day every woman has experienced
A rose is a rose is a rose, wrote the late Gertrude Stein, but any woman who has lived through enough Valentine's Days will know that not every rose is created equal.
Like birthdays and Christmases, there are some Valentine's Days that we fondly remember and some we would much rather forget.
Single or attached, here are just a few of the love adventures you can look forward to...
The instantly regrettable Valentine's Day
Yes, you know it's best to steer clear of restaurants on Valentine's Day, but against your better judgement, you end up smack bang in the middle of one of the busiest nights of the year. But first you have to stand in a queue - two-by-two - with the other couples who are waiting to be seated. It's kind of like Noah's Ark. Well, if the animals were slightly mortified humans who had tested the boundaries of 'pre-drinks'.
The maître d' passes you a warm flute of Prosecco and a single forlorn-looking red rose. You no longer feel like an animal being herded on to an ark. No, you feel more like a Rose of Tralee reject. Eventually you're seated so close to another couple that you accidentally play footsie with the wrong boyfriend. None of the couples make eye contact. It's better that way.
The excruciatingly awkward Valentine's Day
You've met a few of his friends but you're a long way away from meeting his family. You once used his toothbrush, but you wouldn't dream of leaving your own one at his place, lest it look presumptuous. In other words, you have a 'thing' that hasn't been given an official name yet, and you have no idea how to negotiate a day that spells L-O-V-E in capital letters.
Is sending a card in the post a little intense? Does a heart-shaped gift signal a declaration of love? Is a dinner date an intention to marry? Even the kissing emoji begins to look a bit full-on.
The too-much-too-soon Valentine's Day
Looking back, there were a lot of red flags - the 40-odd text messages a day being just one notable example. But you were willing to overlook them: nobody's perfect and some people just have a very intense and slightly maniacal gaze. Besides, he has booked a "special" dinner for Valentine's Day (three weeks in advance, like any good control freak) and he's very excited about your "surprise".
What you actually feel is a deep state of shock when a pair of living, breathing, chirping love birds are delivered to your front door. You want to call him and explain that this is, you know, a bit heavy after only five weeks, but you're interrupted by the doorbell once again. This time it's a barbershop quartet who launch into a particularly animated rendition of 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?'.
You cry off dinner, claiming to have a migraine, and promise to be wary of men who christen you with a pet name on the first date.
The drunk on love Valentine's Day
It could be that you've softened with age or it's the love chemicals of the honeymoon phase. Maybe you've sustained a mild head injury. In truth, you don't know the exact cause of your sudden Valentine's Day hysteria but you do know that sending a giant heart-shaped balloon to your boyfriend's place of work is the best idea you've ever had in your whole entire life!
Life is short and you're in love, goddamnit. What are you gonna do about it? Sue me?
Colleagues suggest you sit down with a cup of sugary tea when they hear you pricing personalised airplane banners.
The chronically single Valentine's Day
Some years, you can get into the spirit of Valentine's Day, even though you're not attached. And some years, you feel like there's a big red arrow pointing out your single status to everyone on the bus.
But still you live in hope. Every time the Interflora van pulls up outside the office, you allow yourself to believe that maybe - by some miraculous aberration - the obscenely large bouquet of roses has your name on it. The squeal of delight from three rows down suggests it does not. Humph. She's probably going home to a pair of Christian Louboutins and a La Perla babydoll. You're going home to the leftovers of yesterday's takeaway.
Your mother texts to ask if you got a card from "someone special". You don't reply.
The deeply conflicted Valentine's Day
Your boyfriend knows what you think of Valentine's Day. It's a heteronormative, patriarchal, capitalistic, culturally imperialistic, supercalifragilistic-expialidocious day that you will simply not be entertaining.
However, in spite of your Valentine's misgivings, you assumed he'd got the message you at least expected a greeting card. You're not sulking! You're just tired...
The 'I hate Valentine's Day' Valentine's Day
Of course you're not celebrating Valentine's Day. It's a commercial festival that commodifies love; a Hallmark Day designed to sell overpriced greeting cards and mass-produced teddy bears with wonky eyes. Yes, you ate pancakes yesterday and of course you celebrate Christmas and Halloween, but that's not the point. The point is that it's tacky and cheap and nasty.
It's the cliché that you despise. And the garish shades of red. And the heart-shaped everything. Well, except for the Caramel Softy in the Milk Tray box but, again, that's not the point!