Monday, February 19, 2007

Why do you have to be a heartbreaker?

THANK CRUNCHIE that Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I can’t stand the utter commercialism of it. I can handle the arrival of Christmas decorations in the shops in September or Easter Eggs popping into the shop windows on Boxing Day, but I have no stomach for the plethora of pink, red and fluff that swamps our shops for first six weeks of each year.
Visiting Tesco last weekend, I found- alongside the rows upon rows of cards to beloved husbands, wives, fiances, fiancees, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, fathers and even friends- heart shaped lights, candle sets, heart shaped ice cube trays, chocolates by the bucketloads and questionable thong style underwear; not to mention the flowers (real AND fake) and the food marketed to be a natural aphrodisiac.
I hate to sound like a Valentine’s Scrouge but why, oh why, should we or do we need a designated day of the year to tell someone we love them? And let’s face it the idea of an anonymous Valentine is not as appealing as it once was in years gone by. Fifteen years ago it was cool to have a secret admirer- but nowadays the average single white female might be more inclined to fear a stalker is on the loose.
That’s not to say I’m not a romantic at heart. My idea of heaven is a nice meal out with Mr Allan, followed by a couple of glasses of wine at home in front of the fire while we chatter about everything and anything. In a similar vein I am addicted to romantic comedies.
Forget scary movies and thrillers, give me something with Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock and perhaps a song on the soundtrack by Ronan Keating and Bob’s your uncle. In fact I have often been the subject of much ribbing in the past because of my penchant for slush, sappiness and hearts and flowers. My back catalogue of tapes (which now reside in my car because it’s so old it doesn’t have a CD player) include choice power ballads from the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
Even my very best friend, who probably knows me even better than my husband and my mother put together, was shocked - nay disgusted- to find a copy of Lionel Ritchie’s Greatest Hits in the tape player. I’m a great fan of singing in the shower- of crooning a tuneless rendition of ‘Endless Love’ or ‘Truly’ to my heart’s content. I’ve been known to send the odd romantic text and cry at weddings. But my love for love stops short of over commercialised Hallmark occasions. I think Valentine’s Day makes more people miserable than happy.
Single people by and large spend the day feeling lonely and isolated from some great ‘in love’ club, while those of us who are paired off spend the day jumping at the opening of the door or the clattering of a letterbox waiting for a token of our partner’s esteem.
There is a pressure to be happy and content on Valentine’s Day that is cloying. When I finish work on a Wednesday I don’t want to have dress up to pay for over priced food in an overcrowded restaurant . I don’t want a three course home cooked dinner with champagne and strawberries because I know I’ll be the one doing the dishes come the following morning.
As for making the effort with thong underwear and push up bras- I’ll spare you the mental image and myself the discomfort, if you don’t mind. Give me my furry slippers, my super comfy dressing gown that makes me look like the abominable snowman but feel as if I’m enveloped in a gorgeous big hug. On a Wednesday evening, I don’t want high romance.
I want to sit down and watch ‘Location, Location, Location’ with my laptop on my knee as I batter out another chapter and sip some ice cold Pinot Grigio. And then I want to go to bed- to sleep! I’d rather any acts of romance or affection from my other half where spontaneous and unexpected. I
prefer someone to say they love me because in that moment they really, truly love me not because some company who make a fortune out of our love affair with love tell them they should love me. So this year we banned the big day in our house. There was no talk of flowers or cards- no romantic repast waiting for me when I came home.
We may make it out for dinner at the weekend, if the notion takes us and we are planning a romantic break for later in the year. I’m happy enough to accept that my husband still loves me after 10 years together, and maybe one day in a couple of weeks I’ll get a bunch of flowers out of the blue to prove it. But Cupid can keep his bows for someone else, and someone else can get my card. And as for the thongs, go for it if you feel brave enough.

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