I don’t hate much. I’m pretty equable most of the time. But right now two things are really pissing me off. Thing One: Muppets. Sorry, don’t get them. Maybe I’ve not met the good ones but Kermit and Miss Piggy are just plain…irritating. I want to light matches to their fur. It’s not the puppet thing. Truly. I like Mongrels. Actually I like it quite a lot. Probably more than I should. I started watching it thanks to James who, come to think about it, probably shouldn’t be watching it at all. Anyway.
Thing Two. Valentine’s Day. I spent last VD ensconced in a spa, dodging canoodling couples in the steam room and being the only person eating solo in the candlelit and balloon-festooned dining room. Frankly I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet. I still wince at anything red and heart-shaped.
I abhor stiff scentless red roses. I don’t eat chocolates. I don’t drink champagne. I can’t abide balloons. Why is it that Valentine’s infantalises normally sensible adults? I’m all for indulging one’s childlike sense of fun but that doesn’t extend to going gooey over heart-shaped balloons. Balloons? It’s not a fecking children’s birthday party for feck’s sake! And soft toys – that’s the other one. Big pastel-coloured teddy bears clutching hearts with ‘I WUV U’. WTF? And the baby language – snugly wuggly baby waby possum blossom?
It’s not some middle-aged cynical thing either. I dreaded it way back when I was a teenager. In fact, the one time I managed to have a sort of boyfriend when I was at school, I ditched him the week before because I couldn’t bear the thought of it. The certainty of disappointment. Not that he wouldn’t do or buy anything for it, but that it would be…dutiful.
And it’s not that I’m not a romantic. Far from it. It’s just that I can’t bear the commercial, fake, anodyne bastardisation of love. As if love can be bought with a ready-made card and a token present. Or, even worse, the need to prove love with something expensive and ‘precious’. The eating out in restaurants bits? Garn. Something just smug and self-satisfied or dutiful and sad. Not to mention over-priced.
If you like it, great. Go for it. Good luck to you. But me, I don’t feel love needs one special day out of a year. I don’t feel love needs to be put on show. I feel lovers should surprise one another with spontaneous affection/passion/preferably both or with seriously thoughtful, heartful tokens (not costly, but from the gut, heart, soul). Whenever I’ve been out on Valentine’s Day (night) it’s all felt rather…sad somehow. So many people going through the motions; doing what is expected; proclaiming to the world ‘I’m in a couple’ like it’s a badge of honour, a sign of belonging. It’s like cats spraying or dogs pissing - marking out their territory. Should you really need to do that?
Anonymous declarations of tormented passion, on the other hand? Now those I do get. I’ve always felt that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be for the neat cosy couples, for domestic love, but for insecure, unhitched, unbridled, unsaddled, unstirruped (any more riding adjectives?) lust and longing. Is there anything more delicious than the frisson of an unknown admirer? My father never understood this. Bless him, he’d send me Valentine Day cards with ‘Guess who?’ written on them in his very distinctive script. I loved him for it (he knew how the girls at school would sneeringly ask, ‘And how many did you get?’) but I craved mystery, suspense, not knowing. I wanted imagination, for feck’s sake!
Did I get it? No. Not really. Maybe that’s why I’ve got such a downer on the whole thing. Maybe I’m lamenting a youth in which I didn’t get the hopeless gesture; the beautiful poem; the gut-wrenching love song; the hand-made card…that nobody took me on a midnight picnic or swimming in a moonlit lake or blindfolded me and…
Or maybe I’m just odd.
‘Can we agree not to do Valentine cards this year?’ I said to Adrian this morning. I would hasten to add that I had bought him two packs of socks from Tesco earlier in the week and presented them to him with a wry, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, darling.’
‘Are you sure?’ he said, his eyes first registering alarm (that he’d clearly forgotten) and then lighting up at the realisation that he wouldn’t have to race down surreptitiously to the shop.
‘Absolutely. You know I hate it.’
‘Well yes, but that’s what men are supposed to say, not women.’
I frowned, with a slight growl. ‘Are you saying I’m a man?’
‘No way, fella,’ he replied.