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Kate: Valentine's Day Is A Scam, Until You Get Flowers

The article appeared in the Sunday Style on 14/02/16

Well hello, lovers! Yes. Today is the day that advertisers everywhere have decreed is a day about love.

And on this day, if anyone loves you, they will PROVE IT by giving you a gift or flowers or taking you out for dinner or writing you a poem.

So, if you are single or in a relationship where you have decided that Valentine’s Day is crass or commercial or corny, you may want to spend the entire day indoors – because outside, it’s a love deluge.

People are wandering around two-by-two (“hurrah, hurrah”) as though they were animals fleeing onto the ark before the impending big flood. They are posing for selfies and holding hands with fingers intertwined and gazing at each other all dewy-eyed; and, if you’re riding solo through the landscape of this life, it can be hard to take.

Here’s the thing, though: the whole day is a commercial construct. And all those people who are celebrating, spending money they don’t necessarily have, paying quadruple for red roses on the day, clogging restaurants with their tables-for-two and toasting each other with lingering looks of love… Well, those people are getting played like fiddles by capitalism. We all know it. Even they know it. And yet…

In the first part of this century, I used to share a house with my beloved girlfriend Moomies. And so it came to pass that, one Valentine’s Day, we found we were both single at the same time. I’m not talking Instagram single, either – all party hard and dress-ups and giddy groups of giggling friends camping/festivaling/travelling/playing/swimming under waterfalls. We were sad and raw and dreading Valentine’s Day – mainly because we knew nothing magical was going to happen on that day. There would be no surprises for us, unless one of us found a rat in our Ugg boot.

But it didn’t matter. Neither of us were going to be sucked in. And Moomies worked in advertising, so we were even more onto it. Valentine’s Day, though it may be a drag, would not drag us under with its confected, saccharine-sweet BS about love. We weren’t going to buy into the guff, you understand. WE WEREN’T GOING TO BE PLAYED.

And then the flowers arrived.

They were orange roses. Short stemmed. We found them, on Valentine’s Day morning, on our front doormat. They looked a little bruised, they were in a plastic bag with some thin paper wrapped around them, and there was a strange handwritten note with them.

But we didn’t know which one of us they were for. We each accused the other of planting them there, but neither of us had, we swore, and we were a little giddy because of our MYSTERY ADMIRER. Who did he love? Who could it be? And whose bedroom should the little orange roses go into?

And so the puzzle of the Valentine flowers coloured the whole day. It even, at one stage, got a tiny bit tense. Ridiculous, I know. We were both so determined not to care, and yet obviously did.

We ended up putting the roses in the lounge room, I recall. And that night, having drinks with girlfriends, everyone analysed them, and the note, and tried to work out who our secret paramour might be.

We found out later it was Jean-Marie, our lovely old neighbour down the street. Strangely, we had never considered that she might be our secret Valentine.

I guess that’s the magic of love.

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