Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day sucks

Like most American men, I hate Valentine's Day. And not just because I'm sick of being told people should drink wine with chocolate, which is usually a waste of  good wine.

Some young, completely single men like V-Day because it's an excuse to give flowers or chocolates to a woman they've been eyeing without coming off like a stalker.

But if you're already sleeping with a woman, even on an irregular basis, V-Day sucks, mostly because of the American media.

Here's a link to a fairly typical V-Day article, courtesy of Cosmopolitan.

In it, we learn that nothing a man can do is right. Flowers, for example. Gave her flowers? You suck, because you bought them from the supermarket. Sent her flowers? You suck, because the arrangement wasn't beautiful. Gave her a gold-plated flower? You suck, because it's cheezy.

The reason for all this misandry in February has to do with the gender makeup of staffs at magazines. More journalists overall are women than men, and the numbers are even more skewed in feature and lifestyle sections.

And food sections? They've always been dominated by female staffers, which is a big reason newspapers foolishly treated them as unimportant for years. I could argue that our poor food culture of the past had roots in newspaper pro-male bias, and our national food awakening followed some reduction of that bias. But that's another essay.
Brought the wrong wine!

My point here is, the reason American women get outsized expectations for V-Day is that the media tells them they should. He should make a romantic dinner! With the perfect bottle of wine! And flowers, and a hot tub, and a weekend getaway! And if he screws up any of it -- there's baby's breath in the floral arrangement? How dare he! -- he's just another Mystery Date dud.

Meanwhile, we American men just want V-Day to be over so we can get back to our lives. Relationships aren't made or unmade on one holiday. Couples that are happy together don't need heart-shaped pasta, and it won't save failing marriages. But the media persists, partly because of gender bias and partly because February's a slow month.

Which brings me to the wine-related point of this rant: Why bother seeking the perfect wine for Valentine's Day?

If you are having a romantic dinner, enjoy a bottle of good sparkling wine together. (By those standards, it's V-Day about five times a month in my house.) If you both like Pinot Noir, or margaritas, or whatever, by all means drink some.

But don't buy crap you wouldn't buy any other day of the year: chocolate-flavored wine, dessert wine that's supposed to go with chocolate, wine with hearts on the label.

And women, tell us what you want -- dinner? flowers? -- and we'll provide it, if we're worth dating (or being married to). Forgive us our imperfections, because those are what make us unique, which is why you love us. Right? If not, then give us our chocolates back. And turn the game back on while you're at it.


kschlach said...

The best Valentine's Day gift - sharing a bottle (or two) of wine...

W. Blake Gray said...

Actually, being the romantic that most cynics actually are, I think the best V-Day gift should be setting aside the evening to spend together alone.

Of course, Cosmopolitan would call me a dud for that.

cycler said...

May I say, as a woman in a long term relationship, that

A) I agree about the overhyping and think that Valentines' day, like NYE is a complete set up for disappointment and unhappiness

B) I've never understood why it's become one of these holidays where men are expected to give gifts but women are not expected to reciprocate. I always get my boyfriend a Valentines' day present, but it tends towards something like a CD or a book he'll like instead of something ostensibly "romantic".
I don't think it's unreasonable to have a holiday dedicated to not taking your partner for granted, but it's really been blown out of proportion and twisted.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old married woman....
I hate all the hype and the idea
that men are supposed to fork out
huge sums of money for a gift.
My husband and I go out to dinner
the week or so before or after
V-Day and enjoy a nice dinner together with a couple of drinks...
awesome! And it makes BOTH of us

Anonymous said...

As a wine importer and retailer, I spent a lot of time when I first started my business pairing specific wines and chocolates for Valentine's Day. Never was worth it. February is a great month for sales but not because of the "holiday," but because people cut back in January after the holidays, wake up in Feb and realize it's still cold and dark and they need wine.

Unknown said...

Amusing. Oh and speaking of cheezy...Cosmopolitan is practically tabloid trash IMHO.

ericapbrown said...

as the daughter of a "modern household" where my father was just as likely to cook as my mother was to scream at the tv during an exciting game-- i've always enjoyed both giving and receiving on valentine's. if the two-way exchange seems well, a bit silly (or runs the mis-match risk) then, look to,... Japan,. .. where one is treated on one day (usu. men on valentine's) while the other (usu. women) on another "white" day. or why not share both days?

ericlee said...

Great link to the old Mystery Date Commercial. Haven't seen that since it was actually on (Black & White!) TV.

Anonymous said...

I invited a new boyfriend over for Valentine's Day a few years back, and he accepted. I spent hours in the kitchen, working on a nice meal. I had some nice wine on hand, and figured we'd watch movies, hang out, and just have fun. After he was an hour late, I called his house and he said, "I decided not to come. I didn't want to send the wrong message." It's been long enough that it makes me laugh, but it really pissed me off at the time.