Happy Stupid Valentine’s Day. Yes dear readers, it’s that festive time of year again: the Hallmark-spawned holiday that creates unrealistic expectations of love and reminds us that we are not quite complete, not quite pulling our social weight, not quite fulfilling the American Dream unless we are among The Coupled. Face it; you’re single, possibly pathetic, and Hallmark has no cards for you (or for the Bitter Single Guy as it turns out). Valentine’s Day: as soul-crushing as New Years Eve, but without the benefit of booze.
The Bitter Single Guy is sure there is some lonely soul out there who knows all about the actual St. Valentine and honors that martyred gentleman’s selfless intentions during Valentine’s Day, but the rest of us are typically yanked up by the short hairs by Hallmark and its fellow purveyors of made-up holidays.
For the Bitter Single Guy, as for many others, Valentine’s Day horrors began in grade school. Many mango seasons ago in the BSG’s youth, children were instructed to bring a box of drugstore valentines suitable for the grade school set. On the Big Day, we huddled over our desks and wrote out Valentine’s cards for classmates. Teachers and parents probably believed that this was a great opportunity to teach appreciation for one another in a youthful show of brotherly and sisterly love. Instead, each of us (the BSG included) hunched over our puddle of garish red cards and prayed to whoever would listen that we received a ton of Valentines. Some of you see where this is going and have already groaned in shared pain. Yes, there were times that the Bitter Single Guy received NO valentines from his evil, traitorous classmates. Thankfully he harbors no ill will toward these trolls. He only rarely hopes that they are in loveless relationships surrounded by children who resent them and in soul-draining jobs. Rarely.
So on Valentine’s Day, we’re forced to deal with The Coupled. Those happy go lucky folks who have found love and want to shout it from the freakin’ mountaintops. What the Bitter Single Guy really appreciates is the interrogation. “Why aren’t you in love?” they pout. “We can’t imagine someone not just wanting to snap you up!” they quip. Hiding behind this seeming gush of good intentions lurk the real questions. “What’s wrong with you? What did you do to become so unlovable? Are you so damaged that you repulse suitors?” they think; hoping your pathetic single-ness isn’t catching.
Well go to hell, the Bitter Single Guy says. He will admit that there are days when he appreciates his singleness and days when he longs to be partnered, but he happens to know that there are a heck of a lot of The Coupled who long for their single days more often than they say. Oh sure, they’ve got each other for dates, dinner and doing it, but the Bitter Single Guy has the luxury of turning off his phone, turning on his TV, and lounging on his couch in non-sexy underwear, eating pretzels…the huge crunchy kind that leave jagged salty shards deep in the cushions. Yes. Go to hell.
So the Bitter Single Guy offers an alternative…an Anti-Valentine’s Day, if you will. A response to the love-ful, the hope-ful, the ones that make us gag. So here are some tips for The Single in coping with this most loving of days.
No matter how bad it seems, be sure you:
Avoid The Coupled. You could get an invitation from well-wishers to join them on Valentine’s Eve. “Come with us!” they’d say, “You shouldn’t be all alone on Valentine’s Day!” This is bad. No third wheel is more wobbly than the one at a table for two. There is no such thing as a table for three…just a random chair from the kitchen pulled up to their twosome table. Worse; the three of you will be seated at a table with four chairs where they sit across from you like some nightmare job interview. Or they will just sit across from each other mooning through a truffle-induced stupor while you gaze at the empty chair across from you. Bad, bad, bad.
Avoid retailers. They fill their empty lives between New Years and Easter by packing their aisles with red velvet ribbon, big gaudy bows and all possible sizes of heart shaped chocolate boxes. These ubiquitous packages festoon even the cheesiest of establishments. Does a heart-shaped box of chocolates purchased along with a Big Gulp at a gas station really say I love you? Or does it say I only think of you when I crave a quart of soda pop? The Bitter Single Guy doesn’t know.
Avoid bonding with other Singles. Some of your single friends may try to talk you into a night on the town. The fifteen of you will get one big raucous table and defy the pity of The Coupled while you dine and drink to your heart’s content. This behavior borders on the terminally pathetic. The only folks who will benefit from this pathologic behavior are the waiters who will slyly include a tip automatically on your bill and not tell you, knowing you’ll miss it in your Cosmo-fog.
Instead, defy The Coupled and:
Go to the movies. Make it a high energy action movie. It’s dark, it’s loud and you’re not likely to see anyone sharing a bucket of popcorn and lovingly brushing their fingers together as they reach for the buttered puffs. Avoid any movie with Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, or Renée Zellweger. Appropriate movies include anything with Adam Sandler, Angelina Jolie, or The Rock.
Stay at home and cook. Take the evening to cook a large batch of beef stew (lentils work equally well if you are an herbivore) then freeze it in batches for meals throughout the week. This will be simultaneously industrious, thrifty, and comforting (stew…the original comfort food). Get into it, too. Sling gravy around the kitchen; it’s a holiday after all.
Protest something. Check around town…surely there is some labor strike, oppressive department store, or objectionable art installation in front of which you can parade, large gaudy sign in hand, in order to instill guilt in your community! There must be something that jeopardizes the safety and sanctity of your community, or at least threatens some defenseless animal! Then glare angrily at The Coupled when they walk by trying to avoid eye contact. They will feel guilty for ignoring the plight of the fuzzy wood duck, or for allowing a performance artist to wear non-recyclable cellophane wrapped around her head. You will feel vindicated.
Take direct action. Attack The Coupled where they’re most vulnerable; the rickety foundation on which their love teeters. The vast majority of relationships are temporary; they end in fireworks or fizzle out, but they don’t last. ‘Oh no!’ some of The Coupled think as they read this, ‘oh no, my Significant Other and I have been delightfully happy since we fell in love thirty years ago and can imagine no glory better than another several decades.’ The Bitter Single Guy wonders though; what happened before they were together? Did they date anyone else? Did they have a relationship anytime before becoming multi-decade partners? Of course they did….and where are those relationships now? In the crapper, that’s where. So, don’t look at the wimpy divorce statistics when you imagine your likelihood of Happily Ever After…instead count up all the relationships: all the blind dates, all the ‘it’s not you it’s me’, and all the ones that got away. Every one of those is the failure that lurks behind each and every Valentine’s Day card and The Coupled are deathly afraid to hear it. So, share! Ask them “So, how many hearts did you collectively break in order to get to your current fleeting love?”
Then, when The Coupled are weeping in each other’s arms because of your heartless attack, hand them an elementary school era card and wish them a Happy Stupid Valentine’s Day. Yes. So from the Bitter Single Guy to all his readers: Happy Stupid Valentine’s Day.