It is that wonderful time of year when love is in the air. The time of year when lovers of all ages devotedly express their affection for one another through unbridled displays of emotion in the form of chocolate, stuffed animals holding chocolate, and heart-shaped chocolate inside heart-shaped vessels that may or may not be made of chocolate. It is the time of year when women swoon over the idea of their admirer bestowing meaningless gifts upon them. Showering them in rose petals. Showering them in chocolate rose petals. Showering them in chocolate covered diamonds shaped like rose petals. It is that time of year when the smell of both chocolate and vomit is palpable. Valentine’s Day.
I love Valentine’s Day. In fact, of all the contrived holidays that American consumerism has created in my lifetime, Valentine’s Day is by far my favorite. Valentine’s Day more than any other day personifies the hypocrisy of consumer holidays, chiefly because it does so in the name of love. There is nothing I love less than spending money on crap but somehow, every year, Valentine’s Day convinces me that encapsulating myself even further into debt is actually benefitting my relationship. Love is a mysterious fruit indeed.
You see, my socioeconomic status excludes me from the caste who give each other vehicles, whimsical vacations, and luxury jewelry but luckily for me, Valentine’s Day is not just about the high-end gifts of the uber-class. It is about love. Love and consumerism for all classes of people. The egalitarianism of Valentine’s Day knows no bounds. By procuring merchandise and foodstuffs that are red, heart-shaped, or chocolate, I basically ensure the longevity of my marriage. If I’m lucky enough to find something that is chocolate, red, and heart-shaped…well that my friends is the trifecta and intercourse has been secured for the remainder of the calendar year. Once in a great while I may catch wind of a discount luxury prix fixe menu with wine pairings which is pretty much akin to hitting the mega-millions. In a down year, I may successfully prepare a semi-decent meal that doesn’t come from a can, even if it is accompanied by the finest box of wine $12 can buy. If I can throw in a nice piece of knock-off jewelry once every 3-5 years, then I’ve pretty much become indisputable husband material forever. What a great holiday indeed.
Often times as we age, adults become less and less interested in the holidays that are based solely on gift giving which now is basically all of them. Even as I type this I harken back to the delightful box of assorted dark and white chocolate I received on Martin Luther King Day. It was two races of deliciousness existing in perfect harmony. However, I find with Valentine’s Day, that my vigor for giving mediocre gifts is only heightened as the years pass. I’ve become much more vigilant in my annual search for exactly the right plastic, heart-shaped crap that will have my wife throwing herself at me all over again. Ah, to be not young.
But Valentine’s Day 2014 is a different fig. Because now I have my son who will one day take the proverbial reins of my hyper-masculine romanticism and channel it into his own interpretation of love. I can only hope that he begins to take notice of my endless quest to impress his mother on Valentine’s Day and adapts my eloquent charm into his own version of irresistibility as he becomes a man. There is no truer way to show my son what it means to live here in America then by taking him to the local Hallmark store so he can pick out the perfect combination of heart-shaped, plastic crap that will one day have the ladies swooning over him as well. Or the men, Valentine’s Day is not confined within a specific sexual orientation. Love and consumerism touch us all in their own unique way.