As a general rule, I’m not a fan of a holiday that encourages even the most cold-hearted clod to be sweet and nice one day out of the year. Be a complete jerk, be unfaithful, be a whiner, be a wino every other day of the year. Scream when you don’t get your way, or act as psychotic as you want. Just be thankful that your significant other has sufficiently low self-esteem to allow you to act stinkier than a baby in a week-old diaper. Because on Valentine’s Day you can find redemption by giving your significant other a card with flowers or candy.
Hallmark relies on jerks for Valentine’s Day. Jerks are big spenders because neither they nor their partners have heard the song that claims “money can’t buy me love.” I have no empirical research, but I’ve noticed a positive correlation between the size of ones jerkiness and the tendency to be perpetually in a relationship. It seems that jerks have a secret weapon against loneliness: after each breakup they find a slightly more damaged person to date. Ergo, jerks are seldom unattached for long.
What if you’re not a clod but rather a decent, kind person nearly every day of the year? It’s no effort for to be sweet one more day. But what about the performance anxiety around Valentine’s Day? It’s huge. You have to elevate your game somehow or risk looking like you’re phoning it in. So what can you do? Face it: if you’re not rich or creative or both, you might be stuck. Your ideas seem to have potential, but they have drawbacks. Squirt a shaving cream heart on the bathroom mirror? I’m going to suggest you pass on this one if your partner is a neat-freak. That would have the same romantic charm as spelling out “I LOVE YOU” with kitty litter on the kitchen table…another idea you should refrain from trying.
So if you’re decent, maybe you should stick with what you know. Keep being kind, keep being thoughtful. Maybe you can write your partner a little coupon good for one whatever. Foot rub? Dinner out? A nag-free night of holding the TV’s remote? You don’t have to be Don Draper (who, by the way, is a jerk) to write on a small card “I Love You So Much That…I’ll take out the trash for a week” or something like that.
Thanks to Joyce C. Hall who came to the rescue when he sold the first Hallmark greeting card in 1910, Valentine’s Day has become a day to remember to buy something for your special other. So if you get a card or candy or flowers this holiday, thank Mr. Hall for 101 years of commercialism. But if you receive kindness and unconditional love from your special someone, take a moment to be grateful that someone cares enough about you to treat you as priceless each day.
Now if we could just perfect the flashing JERK sign that lights up above the heads of clods, the world would be safer for the rest of us….