• Merrick Wells

Love Fools

Updated: Feb 14


Valentine's Day is here again and whether you are single, in a relationship or married, this annual commercial event comes round as the fixed point in time on the war of the sexes schedule.

Here is our series of handy hints to help people survive the gauntlet that is Feb 14th.

Students of School Age

We are sorry, mass marketing and efficient social pressures have made this a day to be loathed by people in their pre-adolescent or mid puberty angst. If you are pretty/handsome and popular or lucky enough to have a boyfriend/girlfriend at this age, Valentine’s Day feels like a Victory Parade. Public displays of Consumerism…I mean, Affection, which reaffirm your standing and desirability while others bow to your wonder.

But this is a small number indeed. The cruel twist to Valentine’s Day is that having a known admirer to potentially buy your gifts or send you a card is not enough of a potential consumer base for the corporate machine, so people are encouraged to believe it is a day to send anonymous tokens of affection. This ensures most sensitive adolescents are disappointed before they even leave home to make their way to School. The postman, be he real or digital, failing to deliver anything to the crushed ego.

If you do receive such a token, you are then wracked with uncertainty as to who it might be. It is almost always going to not be the person you have a crush on and possibly someone close to you that you have completely overlooked so they are reduced to secret proclamations to hide their own feeling of rejection. Sometimes, well meaning parents might provide solace by sending such faux declarations, and we all know how humiliating that can end up if discovered.

What if you are the fool that sends such a missive? A carefully constructed homage of undying love to the person/persons you admire silently, if not, a little too obviously? How devastating is it if the object of your affection does not mention the gift? Does not look at you differently or ask you about your feelings? Or worse, mistakes it as a confession from someone else, the apple of their eye, their unobtainable desire….or, the real kicker….rejects your advance in public, mocking you at lunch break in front of the entire School. (Seriously, why would be interested in that person anyway?)

If you are unfortunate enough to be at one of those Schools that endorse the day to the extent of public “secret post boxes” that then have announcements of public anonymous affection distributed out like some sort of heart breaking social shaming festival, develop your comedy skills and tougher skin. It will get better, just it is going to be a few more years of pain first…

Single (Depressed)

This is the long dark tea time of your soul. We understand that this 24 hours is potentially the most horrific imaginable, the low point of your year. Whether you are recently single and are not psychologically prepared for a Valentine’s Day alone or you are a bitter singleton who prepares for this day every year as the day you might start wildly attacking people as they stare into each other’s eyes and hold hands, smiling…kissing…smug happy settled couples.

There are two strategies for dealing with this day. Firstly, stay home in your pj’s, pour vodka on your ice cream and watch pointless Hollywood nonsense that blunts your humanity or Secondly, embrace your status! Valentine’s Day is a day to remind you of your freedom and lack of dependency. While the rest of the world is fawning over each other, imploring and needy, you can remind yourself that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You need to consult with no one but yourself when you arrange your holiday. You need not make any compromises in your life choices, you can dress how you want, you can tidy or not whenever you want. Valentine’s Day is your Independence Day!!!!!

It has been tough, life has knocked you back, you have questioned your existence and relationship decisions most days, so why do it today. Embrace your rediscovered sense of empowerment and try finding the good in you. No one will want to be with you, if you are a mean, miserable, unwashed, self-indulgent, sarcastic and bitter layabout. Change that outlook, and maybe reintroduce the self-indulgent attitude gently, with positivity.

Single (Optimistic)

Valentine’s Day is the best night of the year! Those amazing years when it falls on a Friday or Saturday especially, you only get these moments twice a decade effectively, so you must make the most of these special days that you can only appreciate when you are optimistically single!

What am I talking about? It is a constant reminder of rejection and loneliness!

No, it isn’t, it is the night that strict social laws and ethics come tumbling to the ground as for one brief, fleeting night, the city around you is transformed, a virtual Huxley-esque Brave New World of sexual indulgence emerges from the shadows of the counter culture that hedonistic hipsters have coveted for so long, and steps blinking into the light of the mainstream.

This idea that any town or city is taken over by infuriating couples is a complete marketing myth. They are either at home, in the restaurant or cinema or taking arm in arm strolls together in moonlit parks (blurgh). One place they are not, is the discotheque!

Clubs, Bars and dance joints become the shadowland of sex for this night. Nobody in a satisfied state is frequenting a pick up joint on the 14th of February and this thins the herd. Everyone knows the score, no one is “taken” or just out for a night with their mates. The bar is the watering hole for those that have decided to make tonight the night they find a mate! The result is a silent, mutual understanding which leads to the disposal of social convention. It is like the world of single people is on heat for one night. No one wants to go home alone and the stakes are so much higher. Small talk is dispensed with, attraction is presented plainly. Honestly, you could find your other half tonight and you may not even know them yet. You could equally find yourself making a terrible decision that you immediately regret but hey that is your responsibility and if you are not adult enough to cope with making adult decisions you really should be at home while your mum makes your dinner!

Seriously, a Friday night Valentine’s is as rare as a comet pass visible to the naked eye. A leap year can bring you closer to one of these rare celestial gyrations, or make one even further out of reach. Your next Valentine Fridays are 2020, 2025, 2031, 2042; Saturdays – 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043! Some of us will be long dead or at the very least, far removed from caring about Valentine’s by then. Some of you young whipper snappers will be neck deep in mortgage repayments and screaming kids and wonder again what all the fuss was about. Grab 2020 and enjoy it!

In a relationship

Fresh or long established relationships it matters not, Valentine’s Day is when the women get excited and the men get haunted. Early in a relationship a man might play along with the whole Valentine’s charade to please his new ray of sunshine…Don’t! This only creates precedent with which you will be beaten remorselessly for the rest of your natural life! Women if you want to preen in front of your office colleagues, send yourself a big flower bouquet. Don’t go getting uptight about why he has not got you exquisite jewellery, he is probably secretly trying to finance a ring to propose to you with anyway. If he isn’t, what are you doing with him anyway?

Men: Valentine’s Day is not an adrenaline shot to a relationship, it is the day your woman demands attention and being showered with gifts and grand obtuse romantic gestures. There is very little you can do to cure this ill, she will not respond to rational argument regarding corporate consumerism or the fact you tell her you love her everyday, or that flowers are normally a precursor to an apology…No, none of that will work. If you can, take her out for a meal, try and do something different to your normal routine. If that is impossible, make sure something is arranged for the weekend or get planning something bloody spectacular for her birthday or the “anniversary” she always remembers and you don’t even understand. If you still feel there is a lack of balance in the arrangement, do some detailed research on the emerging campaign for a recognised festival day on March the 14th. Of course it is a blatant and horrendous consumerism drive led by the Meat producing industry, but, hey, if she promises to honour the concept on a regular basis, not just on that one day a year, as you do so for her, then, frankly, everyone is a winner.

Ladies: Calm down, it is just another day. He does love you, you do mean a lot to him, in fact, much more than a poxy date in the diary. Show him affection, except while he is watching the football, reward his success in selecting appropriate gifts, but do not scold his failure to produce anything. You never know how much this day has scarred him throughout his life, he may just be utterly content to cuddle up to you on the sofa and thank his maker that he now has you alongside him, even if you don’t understand how to use an X-Box controller. If it is a work day, be flexible, consider doing something together at the weekend, maybe suggest something of a similar standard as a more regular event, rather than once a year, take it in turns to arrange? If he raises his expectations for March 14th celebrations, it gives you a perfect opportunity to discuss boundaries and understanding of what is deemed romantic. It is not to be greeted as a way to negotiate with conjugal rights access.

Married/Old/with Kids

Who cares? Really? Why do you still care? The second car needs a new battery, the baby just smeared snot over the dog and the last time romance crossed you mind it was when you were not so busy or tired and therefore so readily distracted. If you are able to get out for a meal then do so, but if you resent paying the Feb 14th price premium, then wait for another day. Your relationship is strong enough to not be easily thrown in to doubt by a Valentine’s Day that does not meet adolescent expectation, surely? Anyway, you have so many other worthy dates in your diary these days, “actual” anniversaries, baby birthday’s, pay day, retirement…

A quiet moment between baby bedtime and inevitable obscene early onset tiredness should suffice, if you make some grand romantic gesture, it will be rather impractical or surprises are impossible to organise as you need to work as a ruthless efficient team to get through the evening rush. Sit together and tell each other funny or heart breaking stories about previous Valentine’s days before you met, or the early days when you made an effort…what can possibly go wrong?

With all of that understood, it is still no surprise that many men are rather cynical of the whole event. But never let it be said that British men do not have a sense of humour. Wives and girlfriends of Tottenham Hotspur fans in 2008 must have been thrilled when their men shared plans for a trip to Prague on Valentine's day 2008. They must have been crest fallen to discover that the trip was for a UEFA Europa League tie against Slavia Prague and not a romantic mid week trip away. The fans serenaded their ladies back home with a delightful rendition of "You can stick your red roses up your arse because I love Tottenham more than you!"

Either way, whether you are a cynic, frustrated romantic, preening peacock or soppy dawg, give thanks that you can at least celebrate/refute the festival at all. Across the news wires today it is being reported that a Pakistani Court has banned Valentine's Day in the capital Islamabad.

Romance is not dead it is just resting….and never expect your partner to make a public proclamation, otherwise they may just underwhelm or embarrass you. That being said "Choo Choo Cheeky Monkey" xxx

Valentine's Day discussion sheet and FCE speaking resource

#Valentine #Tradition

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