On the morning of Thursday, February 14, 1929, St. Valentine's Day, 7 members of Bugs Moran's Gang, were lined up against the rear inside wall of a garage on Chicago's North Side and riddled with machine gun bullets until they looked like human colanders. The hit was executed by members of Al Capone's gang and was called The St. Valentine's Massacre.
Every February 14th, a march occurs in my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia to protest the large number of women who have been murdered or gone missing in that city.
Valentine's Day is ruefully mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, when she says:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
And we all know how well that relationship worked out.
It gets worse.
I grew up in a time before schools mandated that every student receive a Valentine or else no students were to receive one. In other words, the little construction paper envelope (or mailbox) taped to my desk and decorated with scraps of wool and bits of glitter affixed with Elmer's glue (which, by the way, is the tastiest of all the glues) was a little thinner than the envelopes overflowing with gushing homemade lace doily trimmed hearts, chocolates and those heart-shaped cookies with the pink icing and sprinkles. I learned pretty early that some people got lots of Valentines and me not so many... and that this pattern would repeat itself in various aspects of my life over and over and over again until I got a blog. Thus began my strong dislike for Valentine's Day.
But it's not the years of disappointment that irk me, it's the lack of imagination. It seems somehow cold to have one day a year be mandated as the day on which to be romantic. I hate the uniformity of it. I hated getting the same stupid shit year after year when it meant nothing to me. It made me feel like the person giving me the Valentine knew nothing about me, like they were looking at me, but couldn't really see me.
My house is filled with flowers. I fucking love flowers. My favorite is the Gerber Daisy. It's a brilliant color and the bloom is so big and heavy that it tips over like somebody whose brain is so big their body can't support their head. It's the Stephen Hawking of flowers. I also love the brilliant oranges and yellows of the Gerber Daisy and how, after one or two days, they wilt and sag and you need to cut the stem off and turn them into "floaters." I have special crystal bowls that are only used to float flower heads. People buy me flowers all the time and since I started hospice, my house looks like a hippie funeral home. I mention all this so that there's no mistake. I love flowers. I have always hated it though when the men in my life didn't give me shit all year round, and then brought me a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day. It's so trite and boring. I did, however, once date a guy who used to show up at every date with a single flower. Sometimes, a white rose, sometimes a red one, and he actually had the good sense to ask me what flowers were my favorites. I remember one date in which he said, "Whoops. I have to run back to the car. I forgot your flower" as though it were the price of admission to dateland with Carla. I really appreciated that about him.
Let's talk chocolate. Valentine's Day is the one day of the year that people think you want to eat really shitty chocolates instead of the great bittersweet free trade 85% Dark chocolate that you can get all year round. All of a sudden, just because it's February 14th, you get these shitty chocolates that splooge caramel cum into your mouth when you bite them, completely masking the taste of the chocolate despite your best attempt to try to find the one or two fucking pieces with nuts in the middle. I have to tear each chocolate in half searching for the one or two edible ones and leaving a countertop that looks like a battlefield after shock and awe warfare between the cherries and the nougats. And I'm supposed to be excited about this because these cardboard flavored confections came in a box shaped like a heart? Hello! That's not even the shape of a heart. This is the shape of heart:
And while we're at it, here's the Oxford English Dictionary definition:
heart: noun 1 a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation. 2 the central, innermost, or vital part: the heart of the city. 3 a person’s feeling of or capacity for love or compassion. 4 mood or feeling: a change of heart. 5 courage or enthusiasm. 6 a symbolic representation of a heart with two equal curves meeting at a point at the bottom and a cusp at the top. 7 (hearts) one of the four suits in a pack of playing cards, denoted by a red symbol of a heart.
You will note that it is not 'til the 6th (2nd to last) definition that the shape people refer to as heart shaped is even mentioned. And that's from the Oxford English dictionary bitches.
Now, if someone were to give me a box of chocolates shaped like this:
I would sleep with them right then and there. No questions asked. You see, it's that kind thinking outside the heart-shaped box that turns me on.
And what about the history of Valentine's Day besides the murders and massacres I've already mentioned?
There were at least three martyrs named Valentine, so no one knows exactly which one St. Valentine's Day is named for, but it's widely agreed that the holiday was not connected to romantic love until the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. As much as Valentine's Day wrecked my school years, Chaucer fucked them up even harder with The (fucking) Canterbury Tales. I honestly felt like we were forced to read The Canterbury Tales as punishment because our English teacher secretly hated us. The book is impossible to understand in its irritating old English. For example, here is some Chaucer:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Do you have any idea what the hell that means? Me neither. Something about birds making cheese on Valentine's Day, which is utterly illogical since birds, to my knowledge, do not make cheese. If this is a clever allusion to birdshit, I'm missing it completely.
One popular theory is that Valentine's Day was named after a priest name Valentine during the rein of Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius had an edict preventing men from marrying. Sound familiar? Only in this case, they were prevented from marrying women since Claudius thought single men made better soldiers. Take that, Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Anyhow, Valentine secretly married men to their sweethearts in direct defiance of the Emperor. It sounds really romantic, but if you've been married, you might see things a little differently. If I were Claudius, I would make an army of men and women who'd been married to each other a long time since the front line would feel like a nice break from all the fighting.
Based on all the sordid tales I have shared with you, I am suggesting a mass international postponement of Valentine's Day in which each individual agrees to reschedule it to a day on which they feel romantic toward their partner. We can replace Valentine's Day with Have-an-Original-Thought Day. As for romantic day, pick a day or days and give your partner something they would actually like--like sex or shoes or, if they insist, a dozen red roses and See's Candies in a box shaped like two equal curves meeting at a point at the bottom and a cusp at the top.