14 February 2006

Valentines Day, brought to you by Hallmark

I sold out, I admit it. I went to the LargeGenericFoodShop yesterday and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a piece of red card folded in two and an envelope. Ridiculous not because the card was big, only because it's just a piece of card folded in two! And it only took five minutes to choose because 95% of the cards were stilted, stereotypical drivel and only half the remaining 5% were physically visible amid the reams of red roses and ridiculous ribbons.

We always bang on about people like Microsoft charging hundreds of your local currency units for software of debatable quality and have no qualms about paying anything up to ten of your local currency units on a card to give to your beau / significant other / spouse just because Hallmark thinks you should. OK, if the card it played "Unchained Melody" when opened, I can accept it costing 10 local currency units. However, I'd never buy one because I'd be too busy packing my bags to go live in self-inflicted solitude for even contemplating buying one.

Valentines Day has some history behind it, I'll admit, but the history has been hijacked to make money. At least it has more of a basis than Mothers and Fathers Days, which are inventions entirely fabricated by the card companies to make you spend money.

What are traditional Valentines1 gifts meant to imply anyway? "Here's some chocolates = You're too skinny". Or "Here's a bunch of flowers which were killed by a slave in a field in the Third World, put on a plane burning fossil fuels at a ferocious rate, so that you can enjoy them for the next two hours before they melt into a wilted and possibly contagious puddle = Our love is doomed to die."
"Here's a card = I got this at the petrol station on the way home, got sneered at by the attendant for being a thoughtless, typical man and I wrote things in it five minutes ago while you were downstairs making my lunch".

And why do we need themed days anyway? It seems like every day or so its Knicker Elastic Awareness Week, or Stop Beating Your Family to Death Month, or Groundhog Day. These are all things you should think about all the time, especially when it comes to Valentines Day. If the Valentinee is a spouse or girl/boyfriend, then every day should be Valentines Day. If expressions of love and affection were only bestowed annually, I guarantee there would be no-one on which to bestow your monster card and bunch of fragrant, yet decomposing, posies.

If the Valentinee is not someone with whom you are currently making the beast with two backs, then a Valentines card is unlikely to further your cause any because;
1. If you make it anonymous, then you've spent lots of money and gained nothing,
2. If you didn't make it anonymous, then you're a creep without the guts to speak to the Valentinee to their face. You're a stalker who's using Valentines as cover.

A Valentines card is not a certificate ("This card certifies that the bearer loves the Valentinee for the period of one calendar year"), or legal tender ("I promise to love the bearer on demand for one calendar year"). At best it says "Look, I bought a card, I followed convention, I did what was expected; now I'm going to the pub / the golf course / my girlfriends house". It's worthless, merely a physical projection of a feeling, albeit strewn with cartoon rabbits, flowers and dirty limericks, for which there are no metaphysical equivalents.

So, if you love someone, tell them every day. Don't wait until Valentines Day to tell them. And don't waste money on corporate crap. Let Hallmark's pain be your joy.

PS I hope you bought one. It's really not worth the hassle.

1 See, even I'm doing it. Using the term Valentines in the context of tradition. Sure, it dates back to the 1800s, but that's hardly tradition, unless you come from a country that only sprang into being since.

1 comment:

  1. Here, Here! I had to laught my B/F mother found out he hadn't got me a card so rushed out a bought him one to give me. you should have seen it! it was coverd in puppies giving flowers and stuff. Like a valentines day card a father would give his 5 year old daughter.