You Don’t Have To Take My Word For It, But…

Posted: February 6, 2010 by kaostheory in Informative
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Greetings faithful readers (and totally unfaithful commentors, you whores)! We have a special treat for you today – a piece from The Archives! No, not the archives of this set, but The Archives of my past. As we have reached February, we will be experiencing not so much technical difficulties as drunken, lonely, cynical, pissed-off vitriol – also known as my reaction to Valentine’s Day. The closer we get to that damned day, the nastier the entries will be. So let’s start out the festivities with a piece written – and performed – back in the spring of 2007. Enjoy.
Stop. Freeze frame. Halt. Silencio, por favor. Whatever phrase you choose, use it. Just listen. I come to you concerned about the state of the world at large. No, I don’t care about Darfur. No, I don’t care about Iraq. No, I don’t even care about saving baby seals from oil-soaked killer whales with AIDS. Fuck those seals. I’m much more concerned about something more insidious, something that’s infected the very core of our society.

I’m talking about Valentine’s Day.

Picture, if you will, the following scenario. A man in the seventeenth or eighteenth or whatever century gets himself thrown in jail and is taken care of by the jailer’s ugly son who falls in love with him. Before the man is executed, he writes a note to the son telling him to “piss off” and signed “Your Eternal Despiser”. Now, imagine if years upon years later, a day becomes commercialized honoring this man and, in the spirit of the day, people tell each other to go fuck themselves. Pretty ridiculous sounding, right? Then why the blue hell do we have a holiday that exists as the polar opposite and nobody is concerned about it? How is this not seen as a blatant hypocrisy?

Oh, oh wait. I think I understand it now. Because the day is something positive! It’s something that makes people feel good about themselves! It’s a day where people say that they love to love loving love! Ugh, okay, I couldn’t even make it through that last sentence without feeling sick to my stomach. Excuse me a moment.

That’s better. As I was saying, the general consensus is that this holiday is something good, something that makes this world a little better place. But is it really? I would tend to argue otherwise. Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before. I’m too cynical. I’m too bitter. Someone will find me someday and then I’ll change my view. Okay, sure. Let’s set aside my crippling emotional issues for right now and actually delve deeper into the holiday to try to figure out whether or not this day is worth anything more than a date on your calendar.

Let’s first start off with looking at exactly what the holiday means to people. It means one of two things and two things only, the determining factor being the current relationship status of the person in question. It is either a day to get closer to your partner, to cuddle up, watch chick flicks, eat chocolates and show affection in public…or a day to get completely bombed/blasted/smashed/toasted/tanked/ripped/shitfaced/fucked-up…in other words, drunk as an Irishman at a split wake and wedding while cursing the day and wishing everyone involved in it gets stricken with a curiously strong case of herpes. It’s one or the other, no exceptions. Thing is, it doesn’t always stay consistent throughout the years. One year, it could be the first, the next it could be the second. Usually though, the longer it goes without being the first, the more the second tends to be exacerbated.

But why does the second happen? Shouldn’t those of us who are single revel in the fact that we don’t have to clear out our bank accounts to make a significant other not leave us? You’d think so, but no. Comforting yourself by staring gleefully at a bank balance of more than thirty bucks can only work for so long – I’ve found it to be about two and a half hours, personally. After that, you realize you don’t have anyone to spend that money on save yourself and you sink further and further into what I like to call “VD Pissy” mode. VD Pissy is different than Normal Day Pissy in subtle, but various ways. First, NDP is random, it can happen at any time. You might get a bad test grade or it might be raining or people in class won’t shut up even if they clearly have no clue what the hell they’re talking about and it eventually leads to NDP, where you just kind of want to avoid people in order to calm yourself and get back to neutral. It’s a pain but it’s natural. VDP, however, is unavoidable. It’s the one day of the year when it is known fully in advance that the state is going to happen. You can feel it coming about a week away – almost like that ability cats have to sense earthquakes – and prepare for it. You stock up on booze and violent movies, check to make sure your black clothes are clean and ready for wearing, and slap a sneer on your face, silently hoping (or maybe not) that something will stop you from careening into full-blown “Jackassery” mode, a logical extension of VDP wherein anger and frustration at people is no longer passive but active. Once in “Jackassery” mode, there is no turning back. You are bound by duty to be, if not outright mean, outwardly disdainful of anything and everything in the holiday.

Let’s put out a sort of practical application scenario, shall we? Our subject will be named Eric. Eric is a typical college student with friends and grades and all that normal stuff. He’s also been entirely single for nearly three years (ed. -four and a half years now) and has been alone on Valentine’s Day since his freshman year of high school. He’s either rejected constantly or simply can’t nut up and ask a girl out. As such, he’s the perfect subject for this little fact-finding mission. Every other day of the year, he is generally contented. Sure, there are problems, but everyone has those. But when February dawns, his mood darkens. An ever-growing thunderhead rumbles on the horizon as he sees the storm begin to come. To his credit, he tries to fight it. He stays out of stores, unless it’s to buy beer. He avoids TV so he can evade those love-drenched jewelry ads. He tries to keep things light, to laugh more. But it keeps coming, rolling towards him like a swirl of red-and-pink stained dust from Hell. And when it hits, it hits with the fury of God Himself.

Waking in the morning, he feels the dread weigh on him, an invisible bear sitting on his chest, slapping him in the face, claws bared. Don’t wake up, man, it growls. Go to sleep and miss the hassle! You know what will happen. He’ll hear the voices in his head…and hurl his more-than-likely massively hungover ass out from under the warm, comfy blanket anyway. And why? Is he masochistic? Or is he…God forbid…optimistic? Nah, nothing quite like that. He doesn’t like getting beat on or think the world farts roses just for him. All that drives him out of bed is plain, generic, overriding stupid habit. He’s a great guy, but he’s stuck in a routine. And since he doesn’t listen to his rational side or even to its fallback plan (fixing cranberry and vodkas until he feels comfortable dancing around his room like an asshole in his Spongebob boxers – don’t judge), he’ll go through the day withdrawn and quiet, silently boiling inside – keeping in the raging desire to throw the seeds of discontent into relationships like a perverted Johnny Appleseed- until he has no more responsibilities. That is when he abuses his liver to the nth degree. Seeing all the happy couples flirting and kissing and being more cute and adorable than a puppy with its head caught in a C-clamp makes him want to suffer cascading organ failure just so he can avoid it all. Bravo, Eric. Chase that drunken, vomiting star.

But should he have to do this? Should he have to drown his anger and frustration in massive quantities of low-grade Jamaican rum? Well, no, but it sure does help sometimes, I bet. But surely, you ask, one day – no matter how lovey it is – cannot drive a man to such depths of blackness, can it? That’s a…fair question. The simple answer is that the day is fine. The day in and of itself can be ignored through some careful planning and movement, or if not ignored, only absorbed in small enough amounts that it means nothing. Kind of like the emotional equivalent of cyanide. You eventually build up a tolerance to it. Or die. But either way the problem is solved! Anyways, avoiding more tangents, it is the people involved that make the holiday such a vile endeavor.

But, you ask again, people are good and just love being with each other – they can’t be the real problem, right? Wrong. With a capital W. They would be fine if they treated the day as something passive – a day to just show their significant other how much they care. In. Private. But it’s not private, is it? Oh no. Dogs in heat don’t draw as much attention as couples on Valentine’s Day. Attacking each other’s faces like zombie badgers. Bodies so entwined that you’d think they were Siamese twins that got into a fight in rubber cement. Cutesy little butterfly kisses that make you wish spiders were around. Drippy terms of endearment that would make even Shakespeare vomit with rage. Flowers in such high abundance that you’d expect rainforests were razed. Enough chocolate to send a diabetic into a coma just for breathing in. Balloons, limo rides, fancy dinners, those terrifyingly emasculating Build-a-Bears. Even the dreaded “hands in seat pockets” makes an appearance. How is this love? It seems more like one dropped pen away from public indecency.

But if this Public Display of Affection overload was not enough to trip your trigger, there’s also the wonderful side benefit of people (generally couples, but not always) deciding that since you’re single, you must need comforting. Lines such as “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone” or the closely related “There’s someone out there for you” get thrown around with “Be happy for us” and “Don’t be such a grouch, it’s a great day”. Degrading. While the general intent behind such throwaway phrases can grudgingly be acknowledged as helpful, the implementation is not nearly so positive. Single, bitter people don’t want to hear stuff like that. They don’t see it as being nice. They see it as being condescending and smug, a sense of superiority drenching the words with insincerity. Lines like that are what nearly provoke violence from the less-controlled populace.

Let me be clear that if you’re in a couple that does not automatically mean that singles hate you. Some couples are very understanding about what the day does to bitter singles and will choose to keep things private. Others won’t even bring it up in public. And not all singles are bitter. Some are cheerful and celebrate the day with good humor (privately, the bitter singles consider these sorts to be a bit mentally unstable…or traitorous). But the simple fact that is trying to be proven here is this: stop making such a big deal about nothing. If you’re happy, be happy but don’t rub it in. If you’re bitter, try to at least be civil and, barring that, just be too intoxicated to react. Let the world turn as it may and roll with whatever happens. Or, if that simply happens to be too much work, firebomb Hallmark. Either one is good.

Yay, I guess. We’ll be back soon with another installment of “I need a girlfriend or to get laid before I go postal” Theatre. Or…something like that anyways.

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