Each year I get giddy just thinking about February Fourteenth, my favorite perverse holiday: A celebration of love invented by card companies to increase revenue between Christmas and Mother’s Day. Love itself was invented by humans to justify the unspeakable things we do to each other while under the influence of our primal instincts.
Valentine’s Day has become a national obsession. Americans will spend over $16 billion on the day’s festivities in 2013 with men outspending women by a two to one margin. The most surprising thing is the amount women will fork over. The most preferred gift the ladies can offer doesn’t actually cost anything.
All across the country on St. Valentine’s Day, one can observe nervous guys standing in the grocery store line with flowers, a card, and a box of candy. In those same stores, women are lined up with bottles of cheap wine, steaks, and a steely stare hoping beyond hope her man follows a couple of the tips offered by the “love expert” on The Today Show that morning. She wants him to behave like the guys in Romcoms do. She wants a manly man who is as sensitive and perceptive as her girlfriends. She wants a spiritual connection.
He has no idea how to accomplish such lofty goals. He’s praying his gesture will at best insure a brief encounter later in the evening and at worst will keep him from becoming the subject of much derision the next time she gathers with her friends. Marketing folks have upped the ante for Valentine’s Day. Level of romance is judged harshly; at work, on the phone, and on Facebook.
Now there is something new on the digital horizon. In a brave new world where online dating is becoming common and lack of privacy is the norm, your iPhone, which can do anything the modern person requires, now offers “couples apps” for sharing private moments and thoughts exclusively with a significant other.
Anyone who’s ever visited a Facebook account and been reduced to nausea by the heartfelt messages passed between partners knows privacy is something we need to get back to, at least where relationships are concerned. Reading the daily thoughts of a couple as they offer devotion to each other and share it with thousands of Facebook friends takes exhibitionism to a new and sickening level.
So while this is a step in the right direction for people who evidently don’t talk to each other while together, the fact that the information resides in cyberspace offers the opportunity for hacking. If you think self-portraits of Dubya showering are gross, imagine what will be exposed when unthinking couples start sharing intimacy on their apps using a pet’s name as a password. Soon we will see nekkid old people on Deadspin. Yuck.
Valentine’s Day already offers lovers a minefield of misunderstanding and disdain and adding the danger of the internet raises the ante. But the payoff seems worth it. This holiday also gives every man an opportunity to lavish his sweetheart with affection and not have her think he’s done something bad.
So step lightly. Keep things simple and traditional. Candy, flowers and a movie still work best. A Good Day to Die Hard starts February Fourteenth.
Here’s to love.