COLUMN: The reluctant Valentine

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

<strong>LOGAN—</strong> <em>“Romance is dead – it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”</em>

—Lisa Simpson, from “The Simpsons.”

In the Catholic liturgy, Valentine was a 3rd century Roman priest who died on February 14. Legend says he was beheaded for not disavowing his Christian beliefs. This story is not canonical, and there have been other Valentines who also ascended to sainthood.

In one week’s time, to celebrate the life of this somewhat minor saint, men across America will spend hundreds of dollars in extortion money to appease women who have already proclaimed their love for them.

Yes, this day – which we call a holiday by resigned precept – comes swooping down on my cowering gender like a brigade of frenzied Valkyries.

Is there anything unbridled capitalism can’t destroy? Can’t we at least leave the act of love and genuine desire to show affection to those we love alone? What is there left untainted in a once clean world?

And there lies the paradox. Most people reading this might think that I am the cynic. Quite the contrary! By speaking out against Valentine’s Day – notice the “St.” has been removed from the title with George Lucas-esque chicanery – I am speaking in favor of true love.

I believe in true love. I also believe in love at first sight. I am a strong adherent to the concept of L’Amour Fou – mad love. (Admit it, the French do love a gazillion times better than us). I believe in the simplest form of love; the kind of love that can easily be shown upon a woman on a random Thursday in any random month for the best reason there is.

Just because.

Allow me now to risk banishment from The Man Club as well as being branded a Judas to my sex forever for revealing what is unquestionably the biggest and most closely held secret by American males.

Men hate Valentine’s Day!

To every woman (Or man, as religious zealots have not figured out a way to outlaw homosexuals from openly loving one another) reading that declarative statement who disagrees with me because the man in your life has profusely professed his enthusiasm for this day of faux love, I have something very upsetting to tell you. He is lying to your face.

Men enjoy spending money on women. We just find it hard to fork it over like tribute to a Mafia chieftain. We enjoy buying and giving material things to the women we love. We just do not like the outrageously jacked up prices that are forced upon us by florists, restaurateurs, hotels and jewelers.

On that note, allow me to address the sociological aspects of Valentine’s Day as it relates to gender roles.

There are always going to be natural, instinctual definitions of masculinity and femininity. It is fine and dandy for women to like muscular, athletic men. And men are more than justified to find women who wear dresses and heels to be the supreme model for sexiest.

The problem is emotional stereotypes. Do women really feel that Valentine’s Day is a day where men must pass a test of monetary approbation? If your man gave you a handwritten note telling you they love you without a bed of roses, or an overpriced dinner in a crowded restaurant attached to it, would that be enough? Please say it would be.

I would hate to think that this past century, when women stopped believing they were nothing more than appendages of successful men and started making empowering decisions on their own, would allow themselves to be relegated to sentimental creatures who pound their foot into the floor because he didn’t go to Jared’s.

If such women still do exist, then I must state emphatically that I find you to be a disgrace to your gender and nothing more than a disingenuous, shallow guttersnipe. And to the men that mollify this behavior and accede to these guttersnipes, I wish nothing for you but bankruptcy and the bitter loneliness that will soon after accompany it.

Love is not a manufactured holiday. The expression of love is not circled on a calendar. It is there or it is not. It could easily come on May 8, as it could February 14. It can be just as readily shown with a single flower tied with a ribbon or doing the dishes. When we look on Valentine’s Day as something we have to do because everyone else is doing it, and that is just what people do, we not only become sheep to capitalist corporations whose only interest is in taking our money, but we also kill off the one thing that should always be pure of heart and free from obligation.

And so, to my fellow men, if you have not disowned me as one of you, allow me to ask you to stand up with me against the suffering that we endure every February 14. To our women, we shall say, “Snuggums, I love you, but no more!” And in unified, unshakeable solidarity, we will destroy the oppressive myth that Valentine’s Day matters. In doing this noble act, on February 15, we shall have unwittingly started a new holiday.

Cold Shower Day.

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