Valentine’s Spray (2007)
If New Year’s Eve is the grand final of Saturday nights, then Valentine’s day is the state championships for romance. Just as the behemoth of social match pressure leaves many asking who spiked their last big night of the year with ‘Socrapnol,’ Valentine’s Day is an expectation fuelled beast, chewing maniacally on greeting card pulp, reeking of potpourri and threatening to pound you into submission with its disarmingly plush feet. Yet the difference between the two is that we refuse to approach New Year’s Eve with anything less than a vehement hope that this year will be better than the last, while for many, Valentine’s Day is a heart shaped anus spewing sideshow-grade lollies of discontent.
As far as Valentine’s Day is concerned, you fall into one of three categories. A) In a relationship. B) Keen to be. C) Lying on the floor swearing and eating nutri-grain. No matter which of these demographics you fall into, I sit before my keyboard, powered solely from the white-hot cynicism of the hypothesised readership, determined to argue that it’s okay to reignite your passion for the toeyest Saint of them all.
If Halloween, another superfluous American tradition, is an excuse to explore your inner-goth at a party without fear of psycho-analysis, surely Valentine’s Day can allow you to flirt with that optimistic, high school nerd part of yourself that believes that somehow in this big crazy world there’s a fibre-optic strand of hope that you can make the object of your desire interested in your nervy yet well-meaning kingdom.
Imagine being on the tram, zonked out with your mental screensaver, when someone fairly cute saunters over, gives you a small envelope, smiles faintly, says ‘this is for you,’ before hopping off at the next stop. You open it up to reveal a home-made, artistically adept card that reads: “I know this is really naff, but I wanted to ask someone out on Valentine’s Day. I like to think it’s more Amelie than Fatal Attraction. Maybe you’d like to go for a coffee/tea/other?” Followed by their number, email, or, god forbid, Myspace address. Sure, you might not like the look of them, or consider the proposal desperate and dire – but suppose novelty value won you over, you followed through, met them for coffee, found them to be self-effacing yet beguiling, and ended up seeing each other on some kissable basis. What on any other day could be an arrestable offence, Valentine’s Day may wrap in a shroud of knowingly ironic magic to create a charmingly madcap scheme to release the battery hen cages of our own sociological restraints.
If Bert Newton asked ‘why didn’t you ask them out?’ I bet of 100 people surveyed, 99 would say ‘fear of rejection.’ It’s a legitimate fear, and probably the main thing that stops them asking you out – but remember the school yard shiver-tickling nebulous of exhilaration when you got your friend to tell someone you liked them? Even when the news was whispered back in your ear that they weren’t interested, wasn’t that feeling of orbiting through the bouncy castle chrysalis of your outer comfort zone – drunk on an emotionally kaleidoscopic bubble of promise, worth it?
Couples need not implode with hypothetical competitiveness either – in fact a mutual ‘retiring hurt’ from romance’s big game can be a healthily off-beat form of streetwise union. Valentine’s Day can inadvertently spark a reverse psychology effect, where its very clichéd presence can remind you how ‘capital a’ Alternative your relationship really is. The customised design of your bond is most identifiable against the pedestrian beigeness of the greeting card unit shifter. Rather than cower away from the melodrama, rise above it on bohemian wings. Buy your partner a packet of seeds and a plot in a community garden. Take them to the zoo to see a live bear, or buy them some organically produced wheat-free carob, and smile knowingly as they gag with appreciation. And forget lingerie, what about something more empowering like secretly sewing lace on their existing underpants?
Like New Year’s Eve, sometimes the key to success is basking in the collective knowledge that things are probably going to be disappointing. And while it’s public knowledge that we all really want to have a good time come December 31, it’s a well kept secret how much we’d adore being shot with cupid’s arrow, even if it is made in China.