Two of our editor’s hash out why they love and don’t love Valentine’s Day…
Elle: The first thing I want to say is that I’m not a hopeless romantic ignorant of the commercial motivations for why Valentine’s Day is still around. I know it’s because it’s another opportunity for capitalism to make us spend more money under the guise of celebrating the immaterial, transcendental, impossible mess that is love when really they’re just manipulating us. BUT. We don’t buy (literally) into Valentine’s Day because of this but in spite of it, because we know the fundamental reason why we can be manipulated is because love is important to us and we want to show the people we love that it’s important. And yeah it can be an absolute nightmare but at the end of the day loving someone and being loved is a pretty incredible occurrence. Blugh. Okay inadvertently mushy stuff done.
Giselle: I vehemently dislike Valentine’s Day, I always have and suspect I always will. The day brings on a very deep seated sense of annoyance, the feeling that I am being made to do something, feel something or buy something. Essentially, it may be that I don’t particularly like being told to do things, and I especially don’t like being told to do something which, if I don’t do it, implies that I am an inadequate member of the human race, looking forward to dying old and alone, surrounded by cats, probably with an Adele album playing on loop. However, what may actually annoy me more than this is being told to do something I was planning to do anyway. As soon as some abstract entity tells me that I should be buying chocolate, drinking wine, or watching Bridget Jones, even if prior to this the only thing that I thought would complete my life would be Bridget Jones, the idea of jumping off a bridge instead suddenly becomes much more appealing.
Elle: When it comes to the date it has to be personal (and you’ll soon notice that this is a theme underpinning my whole approach to Valentine’s Day). Going to the cinema just because there’s a romantic comedy released in time for valentine’s day to subtly shepherd the unoriginal masses who feel the need to conform to the big screen is not romantic. Going to a chain restaurant afterwards because they have a Valentine’s special menu which comes with complimentary Prosecco when you don’t really like Prosecco isn’t shouting love, it’s screaming ‘I felt the pressure to celebrate today’. If you’ve been anticipating the film’s release for months together, or if it just genuinely looks like a film you want to see then obviously go. But watching your favourite film at home or driving to your favourite view together has the potential to be much more ‘you’. Same goes for the restaurant, is it ‘your place’ or would getting fish and chips mean more?
Giselle: To be honest, the first thing to fall out of my mouth when Elle said ‘the date’ was, ‘What? February 14th?’, which may be a very sad indictment on the state of my love life. My traditional attitude to dates is as a vehicle for the pub, think less wine and dine and more carpets which haven’t been cleaned since the late 70s, and the beautiful thing about the pub is that it’s always there, and it is generally a lot less busy on a date which isn’t the 14th of February.
Elle: Ever since the first year of school there would always be a subtle buzz in the air when we were making Valentine’s Day cards, would anyone put one in your tray or book bag? Whilst we’ve all grown up since then and received distinctly less cards then I would have liked in the meantime; I think Valentine’s Day cards are great. Whether it’s a mysterious declaration of love from an anonymous source, an awful pun or just one to your pal, a Valentine’s card is just a nice thing. The silly little excitement attached to it is something we could all do with in dreary February.
Giselle: When I was nine and had primary school weddings, I was always the cake, without fail, and no one buys the cake a Valentine’s Day card, which honestly, I think is something we as a society need to think long and hard about. The best Valentine’s card I think I have ever received was online and dictator-related. Unfortunately I then broke up with said card-sender (on Valentine’s day). No, it was not a proud moment, but it was then or his birthday. Life was simpler as a cake.
Elle: He could be the man of my dreams but if he buys me a cuddly teddy holding a heart that says ‘I love you’ then I am walking out of that door without so much of a word and it’s not looking likely that he’s seeing me again. He clearly didn’t know me well enough. I know some people think they’re sweet (a good gift for them) but I find them saccharin, impersonal and generally offensive. The only way purchasing me a cuddly toy for Valentine’s Day could be a good gift is that if it was bought because they know I hate them, then suddenly it’s transformed into something that makes me laugh. (I’ll still be happy to receive my favourite flowers because if we’re doing gifts they’re getting something they’d really love, just saying).
Giselle: Look, if you want to buy me chocolate and flowers I am not going to say no. A bar of Galaxy and some withering roses which you may or may not have picked from next door are never not going to go down well. All I’m saying is that these things are a lot cheaper, and a lot more surprising, when it is not the run up to Valentine’s day (I mean, next doors flowers have a pretty stable price whatever the day, but you get what I’m saying). If you want to treat me that’s lovely, but do it a few days after when everything is on discount. Or don’t do it at all. It’s up to you. Don’t feel obliged. I do like chocolate though.
Food and Wine….
Elle: Eat the best food and drink the best drink, whatever that means for you. Don’t eat oysters unless you actually like the taste, they’re expensive and if you’re spending Valentine’s with them you shouldn’t be needing aphrodisiacs anyway.
Giselle: I eat food on all the days. I have done this ever since I can remember and intend to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. What I eat is never normally of huge significance to me, as long as I can put it in my mouth I’m generally pretty content. Why, on one day of the year, there is a pressure to go and sit in an outrageously busy restaurant and fail to eat a lobster (anything that does not want to be eaten that much should not be eaten) completely escapes me. Wine on the other hand is a whole different kettle of fish, I embrace any excuse to drink wine.
Valentine’s Day Films….
Elle: Watch whatever you want to watch. But don’t watch a RomCom just because you feel like you should and likewise don’t not watch one to be deliberately different. Both are real lame.
Giselle: Oh, they hate each other, oh, now they don’t, oh, now they’re in love, oh, my god where are the tissues… Oh, and there goes two hours of your life which you are never going to get back. I mean, I am not one to say no to a good old fashioned RomCom, but the irony, the cliche, the sheer indulgence, of watching one on Valentine’s day fills me with an existential dread for the state of humanity. Be original, watch Blair Witch Project or something. (The Blair WItch Project is not lame, Elle)
Elle: I’m all for spending Valentine’s with friends and family, it’s not all about Eros. If that’s what you’re doing then don’t undermine it by saying it doesn’t matter that you’re single or blah blah blah because it’s not relevant and if you’re bringing it up you’re probably not okay with it. You want to do something for Valentine’s so you’re celebrating the love you do have. No one wants the evening to end with crying on the kitchen floor and echoes of ‘why does nobody love me’ so if you’re not okay being single then don’t pretend that you are.
Giselle: Stop trying to compensate, you’re falling into their trap! Galentine’s day, girls together in solidarity, seeking solace over their inadequacy as human beings because they are not in a relationship. Evenings which started with such high hopes of feminism and independence but will inevitably end staring into an empty glass and asking for the 50th time why no one loves you, is it because your ankles are chubby? It seems all fun and games but in reality it is simply reaffirming the general sense of inadequacy which Valentine’s day implicitly places upon that strange race of things known as ‘singles’. Go paint balling instead.
Follow Giselle on Instagram: @Gisellestorms
Follow Elle on Twitter: @Ayreselle