We need Valentine’s Day more than ever
Find someone you love, or even like, and let them know.
The iconic Matterhorn mountain is illuminated by Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter.
The iconic Matterhorn mountain is illuminated by Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter. [ VALENTIN FLAURAUD | AP ]
Published Feb. 12, 2021|Updated Feb. 12, 2021

Today, like a dozen roses purchased from a gas station, I present the case for Valentine’s Day.

I hereby propose we welcome this ridiculous holiday gratefully this year. At this point in 2020, we had no idea what was ahead. It may have been the last time some of us put on nice clothes and stood shoulder-to-shoulder while trying to make eye contact with a bartender, before remembering this is why we don’t go out on Valentine’s Day.

Folks love to be cynical about Feb. 14, which I can say with authority as a former hostess at the Melting Pot in Clearwater (R.I.P.). My job included upselling guests a single rose and — wait for this time capsule — a chocolate CD. Wearing a mall evening gown with a 6-inch hole for my feet, I shuffled untold lovers to their elegant fondue experience, enveloped in the smell of cheese.

Those were great tip nights! That’s because Valentine’s Day is a cash grab by the Love Industrial Complex. Since it is a minor holiday, we don’t get the day off. That has created a workplace monster, transforming sweet gestures into a performative contest for flower delivery. It makes single people feel as if their hair is made of garlic, and they shall die alone.

If you dive into the actual history of Valentine’s Day, you will learn, like many things we do on autopilot, it has nothing to do with anything. Several stories involve martyrdom, prison, a blind daughter, a Roman purification festival, something about a she-wolf, Chaucer and the words “Volantynys day, whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.” Try that on your next card!

Okay, I have devoted half this column to the downsides of Valentine’s Day, so it’s time to switch gears. I came here to stand up for it, not say “Gerald is a hot mess, but he means well.”

Perhaps because of its absurdities, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. It’s over the top. It’s carte blanche to power-clash pink and red, to eat sweets and drink wine. The mascot is a baby with a weapon.

Related: What will a pandemic Valentine's Day look like in Tampa Bay?

And in These Difficult Times™, no one is happy about anything. I’m not happy, you’re not happy, we’re not happy! Sure, we may have fleeting moments, glass-half-full attempts, but then someone shows up shirtless in a Viking helmet or runs around the Super Bowl in a thong, and we all hunker down and furrow. My brows are furrowed right now!

I am tired of being mad; aren’t you?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting everyone cram into the Melting Pot this year. But, please, find someone to love. At the least, find someone to like. It doesn’t have to be a spouse or a partner. It can be a child, a friend, a parent, a dog. It can be a cashier, nurse, delivery driver, stranger with a cool tattoo.

Give that person a little card, a piece of candy, a flower. Cut a heart out of construction paper. Write a lovely email, send a thoughtful text.

Remember to love yourself, too. Thank yourself for the sacrifices, the wisdom, your own personal Roman purification process. And whatever you do, buy yourself chocolate when it goes on sale Monday. You, friends, are worth it.

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