Sweets for the Sweet – A Valentine’s Day Commentary
Mary A. Biehl
As January 2010 comes to a close, there is one thing on the minds of singles everywhere – Valentine’s Day is once again on the horizon. Since December 26th, the unavoidableness of Singles Awareness Day has been made conscious to us in the onslaught of obnoxious decorations at grocery stores, aisles of hot pink cards and heart-shaped candy boxes, and nauseating advertisements claiming “diamonds are forever.” This “Hallmark Holiday” rakes in about 15 billion dollars a year. No joke.
There is much debate on when exactly Valentine’s Day became a holiday. I’m just going to fall back on literature to help me out with this. One of the first literary references of St. Valentine pertaining to romantic love was in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1600-1601), in which the sorrowful Ophelia laments about her love:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Might I add that Ophelia ends up drowning herself by Act 4, Scene 7. Her would-be mother-in-law sprinkles flower petals over her grave, muttering “sweets for the sweet.” Just sayin’.
In the early 1800s, England’s postal service gave discounts on postage, but only for Valentines. The popularity of sending cute little Valentines raged in the Victorian period of the 19th Century, and stationery factories cleverly started producing these money-making goldmines – thus an industry was born.
It was in modern times, near the turn of the 20th century, that confectionary, jewelry, and floral businesses started getting in on the action. Nothing says “I adore you” more than some chocolate bonbons, a diamond bracelet, or a bouquet of red roses, right? Might I add again, that on February 14th 1929, there was the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago during which Al Capone’s gang sent a bloody Valentine message to the rival gang of Bugs Moran, murdering 8 men in a Lincoln Park garage. Capone must have been a little cranky about the holiday, too? Just sayin’.
Ophelia and Al Capone aside, it’s all very romantic when you think about the history of the holiday. But in 2010, it seems like the romance has completely disappeared. I’ll probably get a few “Happy V.D.” texts this year from friends and ex-boyfriends I’m still talking to, maybe an animated email card with a monkey holding some balloons, or an obligatory Facebook posting. Yes, I’m single, but even if I was happily ensconced in a mind-blowing relationship, I’d still think the holiday in this day and age is stupid with its implications and consumerism-driven agenda.
I have never claimed to be an expert at dating and relationships; let’s just say I’m experienced. To that end, I’ve been asked to co-facilitate a sack lunch seminar at the MSU Women’s Center as a “dating diva.” The seminar is titled “Single is NOT a Four-Letter Word” and will be on February 10th from noon-1 pm in room 168 of the Strand Union Building. Yes, for you smart alecks out there, “single” is comprised of 7 letters; however, the stress of the title is that being single on Valentine’s Day (or any other day) doesn’t have to be a stigma or make you a loser. There’s actually a lot to celebrate! It’s better to be single and fabulous than in an unhealthy relationship or dating someone you don’t really like just because you’re a little lonely. AND dating can be fun if you approach it with a sense of humor.
For example, during my dating years, I’ve been on several first dates, for research purposes, of course. And most of them have been the subject of numerous stories that I’ve told girlfriends over drinks – and we’ve laughed our asses off. There’s been the guy who had pointy-tipped fingers and talked with his mouth open while eating salad, the guy from another country who couldn’t say “smoothie” and it came out as “shmooshie,” and the guy who said he was 5’10” and had somehow miscalculated his height by a foot (he was what I like to call a “knick-knack” that was so tiny you could fit him in your pocket). It’s all in your attitude – being single could be miserable and humiliating, for sure; but I like to think of it as liberating and entertaining, filing away each date in my mind as a story worth telling later.
During the workshop, we will go through how to create a “bottom line” list of unacceptable quirks (i.e. one of my bottom lines is not knowing the difference between their, there, and they’re); how to have fun dating; what NOT to do as a singleton in 2010; and how to enjoy Valentine’s Day for what it is – just another day of being single and fabulous.
For more information about the seminar and other activities put on by the MSU Women’s Center (such as Condom Bingo on Feb 3rd), log on to www.montana.edu/wwwwomen/sacklunch.htm or call 994-3836.
Happy Singles Awareness Day from my heart to yours!
To share your dating and Valentine’s Day thoughts with the “dating diva,” email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.