Valentine's Day is that annual reminder to remind someone that you care for them. As if I would need a reminder! Sure I have a path worn to the florist. It is great to see the smile that a €50 bunch brings on the many occasions when one is asking for forgiveness, because it is not in my nature to ask for permission.
I speak as a man. To men. Mostly. Though having gone to a co-ed school I have an unparalleled appreciation of women. I blame my parents for most of the deficiencies in my behaviour. They had the dreadful misfortune to have a long and very happy marriage. They were the centre of each other's lives. They did not have to go around holding hands for the other to know it. Maybe they did in private, but that was their business and we didn't have to witness it. They never fought and never stopped talking to each other. They are an impossible act to follow. To either of them, the notion of some extravagantly-wrapped chocolate being essential next Friday would have struck them as insane. Before you have even shed the Christmas bulge.
As for a compulsory meal? Who wants to sit in a restaurant full of loved-up couples, stone-cold sober because I am driving. A taxi to my house costs more than a Ryanair flight to… well to anywhere. I am not sure of the difference between cheap and thrifty, but I will own up to thrifty. Even parsimonious. I think a much better solution is to go to the Neven Maguire shelf where among those pages even I can find something that I can master and that will impress. I am getting better but I am still inclined to take the approach of a chemistry experiment. Timing matters. Temperature matters. I surround myself with high tech gadgets. Then there is the presentation. There is no point in putting in all of the effort and just slapping it on the plate. Even the plates matter. Buy some that show no wear and tear or fried egg stains. Go to an art class and practice drizzling for the final touches. If all fails you need to keep a freezer full of ice cream in a variety of flavours. You can always eat it later yourself. The best present I ever got was an ice cream machine. You cannot beat DIY ice cream.
On no account do ANY washing up. Not even a quick rinse to put in the dishwasher. Such chores show that you are not fully in the fantasy mode that is required for these few hours. Do not turn on the TV unless she begs you. You will always look a failure compared to the PDA fest on the Late Late.
Turn up the heat. No woman likes to be cold and no men look attractive in a fleece indoors. Light the fire early. There is some myth that spring in Ireland begins in February, but trust me, Valentine's Day is still in the depths of winter. Whoever said "don't cast a clout till May is out" understood Irish weather.
There is some controversy as to whether there were two St Valentines or one. But since it was about 1,800 years ago who cares? In any case he or they had nothing to do with 'love' but unfortunately did suffer being beaten with clubs and beheaded on the orders of Emperor Claudius II who was not keen on Christians. The ancient Romans did have a festival called Lupercalia in February when young men clad only in thongs from recently killed goats streaked in the streets. This wholesome pastime has now been replaced by writing mushy sentiments on cards and mailing one billion of them, second only to Christmas cards. A goodly proportion of these cards are sent by mothers protecting their offsprings' self-esteem. A lot of flowers are bought, three quarters of them by men, which is yet another example of how far we are from real equality.
These days no one is watching the post to see what turns up. They are far too busy seeing how many likes they got on Instagram and if their rehearsal of the perfect chocolate brownie with fudge recipe went viral.
If I am found on February 15, victim of a clubbing by a 7-iron, please round up the usual suspect.
Sunday Indo Living