Do you remember when “Valentine’s Day” used to be Valentine’s Day? Leave it up to America to completely commercialize something and take the real meaning of the celebration out. Valentine’s Day was started to celebrate the life and work of Saint Valentine, who was known for conducting secret weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. I’m guessing that on Feb. 14, the vast majority of Americans will not give that a single thought.
As a poet who writes 50 percent of his poems about love, you would think that “Valentine’s Day” would get me excited. The problem is that the other 50 percent are about love loss.
Personally, I would say that if I were in a relationship when Valentine’s Day came around, I would have a bit of “Valentines Day” spirit in me. I have always seen Valentine’s Day as a day to repay my girlfriend (if applicable) for all of the times she got her nails done, or her hair done, or a new perfume or any of the other things she did just to appease my senses. I find that if I shower a few times a week and put on clean clothes every couple of days, it’s good enough for the girls I go out with. So if once a year I have an opportunity to show her some appreciation, it’s really the least that I can do.
I don’t feel comfortable only giving one man’s opinion…so I asked two more for theirs.
“No. It’s not a Hallmark Holiday! It’s a Catholic Holiday,” said Josh Zender, my roommate. “Catholics celebrate the life of St. Valentine.” I asked him if he and his girlfriend were going to be discussing the life of St. Valentine over drinks and dinner when the day comes around, as people who are not Catholic. He said (with a cocky smile), “Yes.”
Quickly, he saw it was time to admit defeat, and he started back pedaling with facts and stats trying to cover his tracks.
“Would you rather be in a relationship or single when “Valentines Day” comes around?” I asked. “Single,” he replied. “Are you single now?” I asked. He responded, “No.” Laughing, I asked him if he would be making a card as opposed to buying one and he said, “No! Hell no.”
He did say that he would be purchasing flowers, buying dinner and going through a romantic plan throughout the night. So the store bought card might not be a big deal in the end when he spends what he figured would be “$100.”
I see Zender as the typical 28-year-old man who just goes with the flow on “Valentine’s Day” and accepts that he should be making the day special if he is involved with anyone special. He is smart enough to understand that, yes, it is a Hallmark holiday. But, he argues that it was intended to be what it is today. I have to agree with him on that aspect. However, my goal is to see how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in modern time.
When I asked Josh Bowen, who is a student at Grand Rapids Community College and my neighbor, if he would rather be single or in a relationship during “Valentine’s Day,” he replied, “Single.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, each side has its benefits. But I am currently single so I’ll go with that one,” he responded. Expanding on that, he said, “Last year I just started dating a chick, so a little went a long ways. But in past years I’ve been with a chick that wanted this whole glamorous day, and it’s kinda a pain.”
I asked him about the card and he said, “a little hand written note.”
”Is that a way to save money?” I asked, and he replied, “No, I think it’s a better gesture. Anyone can go out and spend five bones on a card. If I don’t really care, I’ll get a card, but if I’m really trying to do something, I think it’s better.”
“If it were up to you would put an end to Valentine’s Day right now?” I questioned.
“I don’t know. When you’re in a relationship, it gives you a chance to show someone that you care,” replied Bowen.
I feel that if I’m going to go out of my way to hand a girl a card, I’m going to make it for sure, but that might just be the poet in me. I also agree with Bowen that when you have to plan out this whole thing to satisfy a woman’s expectations of the day, it’s really annoying and just comes off as fake.
I hate planning anything out and you sure can’t plan love. I do, however, disagree with him on ending “Valentine’s Day,” due to the simple fact that it’s not being celebrated in the correct way and for the right reasons. It never feels like a holiday. It just seems like every couple in the world shares the same anniversary.
I really wanted to get a female’s perspective on “Valentine’s Day,” but in the past, I learned the hard way that when a girl says, “I don’t care about Valentines Day and you don’t need to get me anything,” that it can be translated into, “You better get me something!”
So, seeing as how my trust in a woman’s opinion on the topic has been broken, I’m going to stick with only having the opinion of three men.
One thing is for sure. The majority of people in America are not celebrating Valentine’s Day. They are supporting “Valentine’s Day,” and I guess that’s fine because at this point, it is what it is and we are too far gone to change it. We have to just embrace it for what it is and show that special someone that you care about them, or go to the bar and sit alone with the rest of us who are single and ready to mingle.
In the words of my friend, Foster (member of spoken word group, The Diatribe), “I’m not for everybody.”
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