A friend recently emailed me and told me that (and I quote): “You know those darn girlfriends just get in the way of our selfishness.” This sorry, selfish man sends himself Valentines and sends a yearly email on the fourteenth of February, complaining about Valentine’s Day. “It is a day for the women to get expensive gifts and further make men across the country of the U.S. of A. in debt. Money that could have been spent on oneself is spent on a loved one.” Wait until he gets a girlfriend, he may change.
I think that in order to get to the bottom of what Valentine’s Day is really about, I will look up the history. We all know that St. Patrick came from Ireland and during his childhood, he was kidnapped. His favorite color was green and perhaps the biggest thing he was noted for was his three-leaf clover that he is always holding, symbolizing the Trinity. But Valentine’s Day is not about St. Patrick, it is about St. Valentine. Or is it?
I question because is there really a St. Valentine? There was a man named Valentine martyred on February 14 during the reign of the Roman Empire, but how did his name become commercial? Like St. Nicholas, there is a tale that surrounds the life of Valentine. The simplest explanation is that he passed a note to someone and signed it: “Your Valentine.” Little did he know that his name would bring money to the post-Christmas, pre-Easter market.
I highly doubt that if I sign my name to a piece of paper any commercial value will come of it. Why should this day be any different than any other? Just because some guy signed a note? That was stupid. Back when I was in grade school, you never signed a love note. Girls had cooties and if you passed a note to a girl, it was intercepted by the teacher and read out loud, revealing the receiver’s and, if signed, the sender‘s name. Then for the rest of your life (until school was out that day), kids at recess would chant: “Chad and Edwina sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes baby in the baby carriage!” This uncopyrighted chant would haunt any boy in the third grade. But not girls, that is, unless the boy was a dweeb.
For some reason girls loved playing house. They loved to have play husbands and dolls to take care of. They were unrealistic. Now the boys were realistic. Touch a girl, get cooties, die. From grade school, into high school, girls loved the idea of relationships. They loved them so much they had to mark the time with anniversaries. Not just decade (which any man could live with and afford) but year, month, week, even hour anniversaries. I once had a girl not talk to me anymore after we were on the date for an hour. I had forgotten the one-hour anniversary. I tried making it up by buying her a fudge sundae while sitting in McDonald’s, but nothing worked. That is when I decided to give up on girls and enter the seminary.
Here I spent $2.99 (price does not include tax) on the number two meal, minus the 10 percent discount for my working at that McDonald’s, and she is so ungrateful that I missed the hour mark. How typical. I work hard mopping floors, taking orders, learning to work the ice-cream cone machine, and she does not appreciate that enough. I made minimum wage! How dare she think that I should spend more on her during a three-hour date than I make working three hours? I took time off. I got Henry to cover for me that night and I had to give him an extra $20 just so he would take my shift.
Some of us guys have or had expensive cars. I had a red ’82 Trans-Am in high school. It got eleven miles per gallon. Gas was expensive back then because prices still had not come down after the Gulf War, and I had to drive uphill to school through seven traffic lights that always were red, forcing me to sit there at the light burning gas. Keeping the car clean was no picnic either. Washing, waxing, vacuuming, and detailing took a good Sunday afternoon.
It’s not only women who need to get ready for dates, but the man‘s car must be ready also. Important questions like “Which air freshener should I use?” need to be asked. It all leads one to ask, “where the hell am I going with this?” Why don’t I end here with this point:
Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day has gone too commercial around a tale about some guy who signed his name to a piece of paper. (Valentine to a note, and Nicholas to a Visa card.) Since my university campus has a bell tower, I will climb up there on the fourteenth, look down on all those couples picnicking on the campus grass… snow actually, and pelt them with water balloons filled with red dye in honor of St. Valentine, the man whose signature is more famous than John Hancock, who signed the Magna Carta.