When it comes to Valentine’s Day I am a typical female. Demanding with a touch of irrationality thrown in for good measure. Flowers, cuddly toys, fancy chocolates finished off with a cosy tête à tête in a swanky restaurant. I want it all. And I feel I have a license to be demanding after spending the last 4 years as a single girl. Now I have a boyfriend firmly in tow for Valentines, I don’t just want the lot, I expect it.
Valentine’s Day really is a time for reckoning, a time to judge a relationship and an opportunity to forge one. When I was 12, I used to fancy Joey who lived across the road. Even then Valentine’s Day was Judgment Day; if our love was meant to be, this was his chance to declare it, preferably by means of a red envelope grinning up at me from my letterbox. Needless to say, it did not happen and I awoke to the harsh reality that no matter how many Garbage Pail Kid stickers we swapped or Curly Wurly bars we shared, he probably did not fancy me after all. Then my mum started feeling sorry for me and began sending me cards. Each year she would sign my card with the name of whoever I fancied. This was sweet but also sheer torture. I remember them all. At 14 it was Chris who got the 281 bus with me, at 15 I went transatlantic with Joey from New Kids On The Block and now at 24 it’s Steve in Accounts. That last one, I am glad to say, was a joke.
But once you are older and you think Valentine’s are history, what happens? They raise the stakes. If you don’t have a boyfriend, a card is still fervently hoped for, from someone, anyone. If you do have a partner, then it’s got to be roses, cuddly toys, and meals out, chocolates, anything that shouts, “I AM LOVED. I AM CHERISHED” louder than the next person. Even if you are pampered with all the trimmings, there are still girls to taunt you who get all the above. AND taken away for cosy weekends in the country or for sophisticated little Euro weekend breaks. The kind of destinations you see advertised on the underground when you are most in need of a holiday.
This year’s Valentine’s Day took place on a Monday and even worse in the office. Roses were the main culprits and if some smug colleague had them delivered to the office then she instantly became a thorn in our side. We were the vultures, the rose maiden the carcass. The ride home on the tube evoked similar emotions as many a women clutched her bouquet proudly, fearful that another might grab it, fiercely warding off piercing stares thrown her way by flowerless females.
As for the men, I actually feel quite sorry for them at this time of the year. I mean, they must be under so much pressure. The funniest thing is walking past the florist in the evening and seeing the sweating, panting boyfriends fighting over the last half a dozen roses, knowing full well that the deceptive aroma of these beautiful flowers can make or break their lives. Or the mad rush over the weekend for that first class stamp, as precious a commodity as meat in the war.
But at the end of the day, all we truly want is romance. The presents, the meals and the roses are all nicely incidental but the thrill of romance is what it is all about. Being pampered in the name of love.
The cards, the flowers – these are things to take a lady back to the days when she was wooed and courted before forsaking her honour. In an age when quite often it takes no more than one Bacardi too many before woopsidaisy it’s, “How do you like your eggs?”, a hint of an effort is all it takes. We’re honestly not that difficult to please, no really. Having said that, if it means I never have to hold vigil by my letterbox again then I’ll have my eggs fried please, and runny in the middle.