Today is a headachey day for the mongoose. I rarely get headaches, so it takes me a while to recognize the source of my crankiness ("What is this odd sensation above my ears?"), and longer still to remember that they make drugs for this particular affliction. If you stick with me long enough, you'll realize that while I tend not to get headaches, colds and other run-of-the-mill maladies, my body seems to attract the rarest and most exotic of traumas, one of which once prompted a doctor to take down one of his dusty, yellowed textbooks and declare "I haven't seen this kind of thing since my days on the Demerara!" Yes, that would be the river in Guyana.
So here on a Friday with my headache, I thought about whether I could afford to slack off today and make up for it tomorrow. Then I remembered that tomorrow is the dreaded Valentine's Day, and I'd better get my business out of the way now, lest tomorrow I get assaulted on the street by oversized, pink bears, or strangled by errant, shiny, red balloons.
Before I get into the Valentine's Day musings, though, I want to point you to a brilliant comment made on yesterday's Darwin open post. It's thorough, thought-provoking, and really quite a sight better than anything I could have written on the topic. One is tempted to think the writer took a wrong turn on his way to Scientific American, but I happen to know otherwise, so thanks to Markaman for the response.
And since there is no appropriate segue from Darwin to pink balloons, I'll just get on with it.
Valentine's Day tends to inspire gleeful anticipation of romantic outings and gifts; bitter hatred and rebellion; or gentle apathy, which I think is where I fall. With the economy in recession, the V-Day haters have ample backing for their failure to participate. But before the financial crisis, I always thought that the various remonstrations with the 'holiday' were somewhat lame, and mostly made by people who just didn't want to make the effort, and were claiming anti-commercialism as their platform.
I see nothing wrong with giving someone a red mug filled with chocolates if that will make him happy. I happen to find all the plastic redness and pinkness horribly tacky in general, but if you know your partner has her eyes on some poor, white bear being suffocated by pink cellophane, unless you have some strong conviction that forbids you from indulging her, get her the damn bear. I've accepted a few bears in my time. A couple were hideous and not at all me, but they were also not from anyone who was ultimately that important. So it was no big deal. The people who mattered were a little more creative.
The most cherished gift I ever received for any V-Day, birthday or Guy Fawkes Day was a poem collage. It was an original Valentine's Day poem with hand-cut pictures of some of the references, and before you go shaking your head and smirking, it was not at all cheesy. This guy was incapable of cheese. I was in the DR, my partner was across the seas, I didn't expect it, and it was perfect. He happens to turn a mean phrase, but not everyone is so inclined. So instead of banging your chest and declaring that you don't do V-day and no one can change you or put you in a box(!!!), why not think of something cheap (it's not a bad word) yet meaningful that your partner might enjoy? If you're both V-day grinches like some couples I know, then it's moot. But it might turn out to be fun.
Many say "Why choose one day to show someone love? I show love every day!" Well first, that's just silly. And second, you're a liar. Lots of us tend to get caught up in day to day drudgery that prioritizes real life over real romance. And if you don't, then what's one extra, dedicated day of smooshiness, or just plain appreciation if you're not the smooshy type? When we were at school, my friend Claire always used V-day to send her girlfriends little "you're great" tokens. I thought that was lovely. It doesn't have to be February 14th. But it could be. You're not a drone if you buy a Hallmark card.
Still others hate the idea that it's considered a woman's holiday, prompting the annoying "Steak and a blowjob" day as a response. I'm not going to get into why that concept is inane and not at all clever, but I'll just say the same thing I say to the people who mumble that if there's a women's movement, why should they still open doors for women: really? Is that what you consider a worthy objection? Avoiding a digression into the fact that equality does not mean sameness, in the first place, if you're so against doing something special for your woman partner, you might have bigger problems than not being able to afford balloons; and second, it need not be a woman's holiday. Exchange tacky, red, plastic crap if you like, or prepare a picnic together, or give each other massages. Quit fighting a fight that doesn't exist.
And finally, some will say that as a feminist, I should reject Valentine's Day and its inherent message that all women want are chocolates and pink. Clearly, that is absurd, but some women do want chocolates and pink sometimes, or some approximation of these. And that's alright. I do reject the pink labelling as it is used by Eileen Boris here. I see no reason why jobs dominated by women should be termed 'pink jobs', and I consider that a more damaging image than women liking pink for Valentine's Day, which some do and many don't. So you see, I pick the battles that I find important.
Despite my apparent advocacy for Valentine's Day, I most likely won't do anything pink and fuzzy tomorrow. Not because I object, but because it's not a priority for me this weekend. Nevertheless, I won't turn down a poem or a bottle of wine or an eco-friendly bear. That would just be rude.