Why do people get so bitter around Valentine's Day?
If they're single, they're mad about being single and walking the frozen February road to spinsterhood. (While I'm at it, let's bring that "I'M SINGLE!!!!" stuff down a notch.) If they're in a relationship, there's pressure to drop some major dough on expensive flowers, cards, gifts and a price-gouging dinner "somewhere special."
Quite frankly, I just don't get all the angst. Whether you are single or in a relationship, Valentine's Day is the one day each year to focus on treating yourself to a bit of beauty.
I've had a boyfriend twice on Valentine's Day. The first was near the end of my only long-distance relationship. He sent me a handmade card, which he said was only because he couldn't find a single card without the word "love." In the same envelope, he included a Dora the Explorer card for my dog that was 80 times more intimate.
At the time, I thought about how awesome it was that he lived several states away, because I could wear sweatpants all day on Valentine's Day without anyone caring. We obviously weren't heading in the right direction.
The second time was last year when I had committed to deejaying an event at Old Town Social. This was the one time a boyfriend had ever wanted to "do something special."
In grade school, Valentine's Day was the best. Even at 6, I was trying to read between the lines of the preprinted messages that the boys decided to give me. DOes "You make my heart race" accompanied by a picture of a race car driver mane Andrew H. likes me?
Then somewhere along the line, my enthusiasm for random acts of Valentine's began to fade. If you didn't have a boyfriend in high school, the walk to your locker on Feb. 14 was complete with tumbleweeds and the lonely howling wind.
While I was in college, my best friend and I decided we were going to take Valentine's Day into our own hands. Terming the night "Black Monday," we dressed in our most vamped-out black dresses with one goal in mind: completely predatory seduction.
We played a drinking game with our male roommate and his twin brother in which we rigged the rules so they would lose. We were out for the kill. We switched our playlist from "All By Myself" to "Man Eater" and turned the night into one I wish I could remember.
These days, things have picked up. I know I'm lucky. To go from my mom handing me a comic about two girls who didn't get any Valentine's cards and saying "this reminded me of you and your best friend" to being a little more sought after has been a long road.
In the end, however, I'm still single. Maybe I'll have a date this year and maybe I won't. I'm not too worried about it.
For now, I'm planning to spend Valentine's Day the way I always do. I'll get my nails done, open my favorite bottle of wine and watch a romantic comedy. Love hasn't found me yet, but it will someday.
Originally published as a Page Four column in the RedEye, Februrary 11, 2011. The column has been slightly modified to include updated details.