By David Berry: Valentine’s Day can be traced back to a bunch of guys named ‘Valentine’ who were martyrs for Christianity back in the first century. That’s your history lesson for the day. And I love a lot of you, but I’m not about to get mauled to death to prove it.
And that whole martyrdom story more or less validates the title of this blog – Valentine’s Day is Bullshit. I’ve known that for a long time.
Back in second grade, I started to understand why the holiday was first named after martyrs. It was emotional mayhem, which felt like it would ultimately lead to my death. Case in point: I was a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, so when it came time to write out card stock Valentine’s Day cards for my classmates, I had my parents get me the TMNT package, which featured bomb ass cards with messages like “You Have a Pizza My Heart” and “You’re Mondo to the Max.”
The other boys in my class were my recipients of “You’re Mondo to the Max” cards, and since I’m not a dumbass, I saved the “You Have a Pizza My Heart” for the real baddies in the class (cue Bad & Boujee by Migos). I arrived at school and dropped the cards off one-by-one in the makeshift brown paper bag mailboxes assigned to each classmate, then watched with jealousy as the other guys came in with their cards and dropped them off in the same girls’ bags as I had.
Some dickbag picked Spider Man cards, and he gave the “Let’s Stick Together This Valentine’s Day” cards to the same baddies I had given the “You Have a Pizza My Heart” cards to, and suddenly, I wasn’t so keen on my odds of winning any hearts that day. I cringed with insecurity. I wasn’t sure if I was winning or losing – do these young ladies prefer TMNT or Spider Man? There I was, seven years old, with my entire romantic future just hanging in the balance.
Middle school and high school brought their own challenges. While getting a Lisa Frank card from a girl in elementary school would be tallied as a win, now girls were getting boyfriends with allowances, and they could afford extravagancies like Russell Stover heart-shaped chocolate boxes or – if the guy had a really big allowance – flowers.
In those days, Valentine’s Day was mostly about making other people jealous and parading around your hauls. If you got chocolates, you carried them out in front of you from class to class that day. Flowers? Fuck it – fill up a vase full of water and plop it on your desk.
Oh, and balloons. Pound for pound one of the best ways to show off a highly visible articulation of love, and a great value for guys who didn’t have to spend a lot of money to make a big showing.
What is Valentine’s Day now? The same, but with higher stakes and more tangible letdowns. If you’re alone, eating tacos and shoveling oversized spoonfuls of ice cream out of a tub, you might feel like that’s an indication that you’re going to be sad and alone forever.
But if you put any real stock in Valentine’s Day as a measure of love from a significant other, then you’re going to be single by the time this blog goes live anyway. Then you’ll be right there alongside everyone else, eating tacos and ice cream.
Real gestures of love aren’t wasted on an arbitrary holiday. And honestly, if you’re eating tacos alone OR with someone you love on Valentine’s Day, you’re the real winners anyway.