The Valentine’s Day Column

Valentine’s Day has crept up on us yet again. You will no doubt see other articles in this very newspaper talking about the history of the holiday, but they are probably deceptive, saying that it has to do with old Catholic saints and Roman gods, or something of that nature. Actually, Valentine’s Day was started by merchandisers who wanted yet another reason to make people have to buy stuff. It is similar to the way the turkey industry lobbied to make Thanksgiving a holiday.

But I am not here just to make unsubstantiated claims about beloved societal icons. No sir or madam, I am also here to discuss my proposal for seriously re-vamping Valentine’s Day.

The reason Valentine’s Day needs changing is the same reason a baby needs changing: It stinks, and it nauseates people. Valentine’s Day widens the already-large gap between those with relationships and those without them, because people who have significant others merely become more smug about it on Valentine’s Day. They mention, ever-so-slyly, to their friends that they will be busy this Friday evening — “It’s Valentine’s Day, after all.” Enough said. We all KNOW you have a girlfriend; there’s no need to go into further detail. OF COURSE you’ll be with her on Friday, and not just because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because it’s a day, period, and you’re with her EVERY DAY OF THE FREAKING YEAR! Do people who already spend every waking hour together, as well as some non-waking ones, need another excuse to hang all over each other? Speaking as one who has had to witness the slobbering far too often, I must say that I think not.

Obviously, I am one of the cold, embittered persons who does not have a significant other. I don’t even have an insignificant other. I don’t have any kind of other. Valentine’s Day, therefore, doesn’t mean squat to me, pardon the euphemism. It’s not even like Christmas, where if you don’t celebrate it you can at least appreciate the ideals of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have any ideals attached to it, except the florists’ and heart-shaped candy box manufacturers’ notions that they would like to make more money.

When we were in elementary school, Valentine’s Day was so much simpler. All it meant was that we got another in-class party, to go with the 58 other parties we already had. And there were no feelings of isolation or loneliness, because EVERYBODY had to give EVERYBODY ELSE a valentine. Even kids who normally spent most of their time with their heads in toilets receiving swirlies from the cool kids got valentines from the whole class. Mom would buy a package of 30 valentines at the supermarket, and they had Smurfs or Snoopy or Looney Tunes on them, and they said stupid things like, “Valentine, you’re grr-rr-rreat!” with a picture of a tiger, and you would scribble your signature like an author signing books at B. Dalton’s, and distribute them to everyone regardless of race, creed, color or swirly history. Life was beautiful and peaceful and everyone loved each other, at least superficially and for one day, which was enough to keep the swirly kids from turning to the dark side.

Later, things got complicated. Once, when I was in high school, I happened to have a girlfriend when Feb. 14 rolled around. I gave her a stuffed bunny rabbit; she gave me a stuffed monkey. She put a little cardigan sweater and fake eyeglasses on the monkey and declared that she now thought it looked like me.

The relationship progressed steadily downhill from there.

My friends, I propose a hearkening back to the old days, back to when Valentine’s Day was simple and meaningless. It’s still meaningless, of course, but some people (again, mostly florists) have attached false meaning to it. We need to go back to when it was just another dumb, harmless holiday, a time to express insincere emotions and strengthen generic friendships.

Here’s my proposal. Let’s expand the elementary school philosophy to the university level. Next Valentine’s Day, everyone needs to bring 30,000 valentines — one for every student at BYU. To be extra nice, bring some for your professors. Spread a little Valentine’s Day joy.

Oh, and be sure to include some of those heart-shaped candies that say “Be Mine” and “You’re the One” — you know, the ones that taste like Tums. It’s just not Valentine’s Day without them.

This was something I wrote for one of The Daily Universe's "special sections" (see "A Freshman Easter/The Bad Haircut" for another example of one). A little inside joke is contained in the first paragraph, where I refer to the allegedly false articles on the history of Valentine's Day that were contained elsewhere in this issue. The joke is that I, myself, wrote one of those articles, and complained loudly about having to do it. (You can read that short article, which is fairly interesting and rife with sarcasm, here.)

This column ran a few days before Valentine's Day, and as a result, a girl I didn't know sent me flowers. She included a card saying, "I know what it's like to be alone on Valentine's Day. Have a happy one anyway!" This was very nice of her, although I think she missed my point, which was that I don't care about Valentine's Day.

Furthermore, an entirely different girl called me on the phone and asked me out. She wanted to go out on Valentine's Day and do elementary school-type things, like I referred to in the article -- things like drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, playing hopscotch, etc. I had a Garrens performance that night, and most Friday nights thereafter, so we never actually went out, but it was certainly thoughtful of her to call.

I should mention that when this article ran, it was too long to fit in the space they put it, so they had to "jump" it, or continue it, on another page. At the end of the first part, the editors put, "Please see 'BITTER,' page 7." I guess my real feelings came through loud and clear.