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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

My Pukey Valentine

Submitted by on March 11, 2007 – 7:53 PMNo Comment

Hello again, gentle readers.Please accept my heartfelt apologies for leaving you without recourse to caustic complaint for so long — but I have returned, just as fond of the sound of my own voice, and just as full of bile, as in days of yore.

And now, today's subject of bitter invective: Valentine's Day.Too easy a target?Perhaps.Before we decide, a little history.Back in the day, achieving sainthood didn't pose quite the challenge that it does today; the young church had only a few saints and a lot of slots to fill, and thus adopted a non-selective rolling admissions policy.Criteria for becoming a saint at that time included getting your front teeth knocked out by a Visigoth during vespers, or dropping a few hits of acid and claiming to see an apostle or two leering out of your porridge, at which point the cardinal college would convene and name your patron saint of blunt objects or something.

The artist formerly known as St. Valentine ascended to sainthood in much the same manner.In the dusk of Rome's power, as the centurions vainly tries to defend the empire's borders against the barbarian invasion, St. Valentine supposedly advised the brave soldiers to consecrate love with holy matrimony before entering battle.Val allegedly met his demise in a Roman encampment when a stray arrow entered one of his temples and came out the other side, at which point he muttered, "Jesus Christ," and expired.The cardinal college sainted him without delay.

Centuries later, after Joan of Arc had upped the sainthood stakes considerably by leading the armies of France before the onset of her menstruation and perishing on a bonfire, St. Valentine and his so-called accomplishment came under scrutiny.It seems that our hero, while touting the benefits of married life to others, had himself taken more of an interest in little boys.The Vatican — troubled by the discovery of Valentine's indiscretions, but reluctant to alienate the Hallmark Corporation – elected to remove Valentine from the roll of saints.Members of the Saints Department vowed that never again would a scandal such as "Valentinegate" sully their reputation as judges of character.

All right, so maybe it didn't happen exactly like that.But to make a long story short, they could have made Montel Williams a saint just as easily as they did Valentine, except that Montel doesn't tell people to get married and then disappear into his tent to fondle a few ankle-biters (he just interviews the people that do).Point being, this so-called holiday bites.

My mother doesn't agree with me.My mother thinks that Valentine's Day is "fun."Then again, she thinks the same thing about golf, and also she made me and my brother make all of our valentines by hand when we were kids instead of letting us buy the store-bought Garfield kind like everyone else.Every year, the night before Valentine's Day, while all my classmates slumbered peacefully, long since finished signing their flimsy Empire Strikes Back valentines, two in the morning would find the little Buntings hunched over the kitchen table by the light of a single candle, tracing heart shapes on red and pink construction paper over and over, festooning the hearts with stickers and scraps of doilies, eyelids fluttering with exhaustion and knuckles criss-crossed with papercuts, all because my mother had to prove a point — a point that still remains a mystery, as does whatever point she thought she proved by refusing to buy Fudgsicles because "frozen fruit juice tastes just as good."Besides, my mother can afford to think that Valentine's Day is fun.She has my father.Presto, automatic valentine, watching the Discovery Channel in the Barcalounger just a few feet to her right.

Don't get me wrong; I greatly admire my parents for staying married — to each other — for so long and still digging each other.But first of all, not everyone has a spouse or a lover or a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or even a crush on someone, and Valentine's Day tends to stigmatize folks that don't have significant others, which sucks.Before the days of wine and El Rabo, I had a happy enough life (if disturbingly free of sexual intercourse), except for Valentine's Day, when I would inevitably get that little candy heart that said FUNNY GIRL on it and wonder if it meant ha-ha or funny peculiar, and then I would realize that nobody would send me flowers that year because I looked funny, and I would feel really worthless and invisible because I didn't have a man, and I would wish that we still lived in a culture that espoused arranged marriages, and only on Valentine's Day would I feel that way.Hi.Welcome to American culture.

This year, I have El Rabo.This leads me to my next point — OH GOD, THE PRESSURE!I CAN'T TAKE THE PRESSURE!Okay, so I have to get El Rabo some item that 1) conveys the fact that I find him delightful but 2) doesn't convey TOO much delight, because too much delight might frighten him and 3) doesn't cost much, because I'm poor but 4) didn't LOOK like it didn't cost much.God, I hate this crap.And what if he decides that it's a dumb holiday and doesn't get me anything?What if he gets me something really good and I get him something really feeble?And why do I worry about it?Because I have succumbed to the tidal wave of merchandising and advertising and red crepe paper and how-else-can-two-months-salary-last-forever and all the rest of it, and someone will read this and tell El Rabo about it and he'll think I'm an idiot.

And could someone please tell me the logic behind designating a single day for telling people that you love them?One day?What in THE hell?It seems to me that it would neutralize a lot of the bitterness and anxiety surrounding Valentine's Day if they didn't confine it to just one lousy day.By the same token, perhaps we should designate days for some of the suckier things in life.Clogged Toilet Day.Drive-by Shooting Day.Foreclosure Day.I don't know about you, but I'd rather take a stray bullet than have to deal with another damn Valentine's Day.I mean, I don't even like chocolate that much.

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