Valentine’s Day should be the preserve of teens, the unimaginative and the guilty, says Maia Dunphy, careful to exclude her own better half
Bah, lovebug. Hold on to your hearts romantics, as there are only a few days to go until the feast of St Valentine. Apparently, just known as 'V-Day' now. Say it quickly and it sounds a lot like D-Day, or worse, VD. And to many of us, it's about as romantic as either.
No one can get away with claiming to have forgotten Valentine's Day these days -- we are reminded at every turn. You may choose to ignore it, but it's the first time since Christmas that shops are finally able to put full-price tags back on tat again. What a retail relief; well, at least 'til Paddy's Day.
Valentine's gifts used to be simple enough: heart-shaped novelties, cute cuddly toys holding padded, foam 'I love you' signs, and the ubiquitous saucy underwear, but in 2010, true romantics have a lot more choice.
I was sent a brochure of "romantic gift suggestions", last week which included a two-person toilet. Genuinely, a double toilet so you can share your thoughts whilst you do your business. Because nothing says 'I love you' like sitting beside someone with your pants around your ankles reaching for the Glade Touch 'n Fresh.
I know what you're thinking -- the poor, cynical cow has obviously never been remembered on Valentine's Day, so is out to ruin it for those of us who actually have someone who cares. Well, to be honest, there might have been a hint of truth in that between the ages of 13 and 16. Nowadays, I would much prefer a random romantic gesture on any given Monday than a dozen force-grown Dutch roses, hiked up in price to the cost of a Kia Picanto on February 14th. (Which reminds me of the time a work colleague's boyfriend bought a bouquet of roses at the end of January to avoid the inevitable Valentine's price tag and tried to freeze them. It didn't work, and no, they don't laugh about it now).
As a rule, if Hallmark or any other company has to remind you to tell your better half that you love them, you're in trouble. Hell, even my local DIY shop has had a sign in the window for the past fortnight saying: "Don't forget Valantine's Day!" The misspelling is theirs, not mine. But I thought if I put in the obligatory '[sic]', I would come across as even more cynical than I already am.
Spelling aside, I wondered how a hardware shop was planning to hitch a ride on the February 14th love wagon. So I went in and told the assistant I had seen the sign in the window, and had come in search of inspiration. She recommended a 28-piece drill kit or a combination ladder.
Valentine's Day is for three main groups of people: hormone-fuelled teenagers, the unimaginative and those with very guilty consciences. But we should spare a thought for that final category at this time of year. I mean, just think how difficult (never mind exhausting) last Valentine's Day must have been for Tiger Woods and John Terry? Having to order flowers from different shops, remembering which cute nickname to write on which card, not to mention the inevitable disaster of buying underwear in your mistress's size for your wife. Not a good mistake to make.
When you think about it, the very idea of a day dedicated to lovers and romance named after a priest doesn't really bode well. Unless, of course, St Valentine was the Father Michael Cleary of the 3rd century. Perhaps his housekeeper was the very first recipient of a Valentine's Day card. Now there's a relic I'd like to see.
So, in a nutshell, it's all nonsense. Having said that, if my other half doesn't at least buy me a card and a teddy bear with freakishly large eyes clutching a fabric rose, there may be sulking.
See our special report on Valentine's Day on page 8