Most men (and women!) think that Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the love they share.
That is, however, an unfortunate delusion. Valentine’s Day is about love and romance in the same way that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is about molecular biology (namely, not at all).
Fundamentally, Valentine’s Day thrives upon a single motivation: masculine competition.
From the time most men can walk, the women in our lives have been preparing us for when we draw paychecks by putting us in Valentine’s Parties and creating competitions to see who could collect the most Valentine cards(I always did fairly well in these competitions—they were, unfortunately, no predictor of future success with women).
From the beginning, Valentine’s Day is not about romance—rather, it’s about out-doing everyone else in the class with the best baked goods and the coolest Valentine’s Cards.
Once we grow up, nothing changes for the men. The gifts become more expensive and the expectations more intense, but it’s the same game that we played in kindergarten: outdo every other male within shouting distance.
In other words, Valentine’s Day is simply a ploy by women to get what they really want from men—chocolates, flowers and shiny stones that cost too much—at least once a year.
This is all tongue in cheek. Women aren’t really that mercenary about Valentine’s Day. At least not that they would admit.
But there is something about the cultural expectations surrounding the day that inevitably cheapens the professions of love that occur. I know I’m dense about these matters, but I cannot for the life of me understand why otherwise sensible women insist upon acknowledging a day fabricated entirely by marketers from the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries. At some point, the romantic ceases to become so when its expressions are swallowed up and sanitized by corporate America.
But Valentine’s Day will go on. And if I have learned anything, it is that women understand this complaint 364 days out of the year. It is the 365th day that they go mad (and men go with them).
Unfortunately, that 365th day just happened to be yesterday. I hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Exit question: Why? Why?
*Note: This post was originally supposed to run
yesterday, but I decided not to critique the day after it had gone
past, so that when it comes again next year, everyone will have
forgotten what I said and can blissfully return to their marketing-driven celebrations of America's second most expensive national holiday.