Is Valentine’s Day over? Can all the single girls come out now? Oh thank god!
I think next year, we need to rename it – The Most Unromantic Day Of The Year, MUD for short. The acronym only because; ‘Happy The Most Unromantic Day of the Year, Baby’, hardly trips off the tongue and may not fit neatly on the inside of a Hallmark card. All in favour say aye, all in favour in Scotland, say och aye.
Being told when and how to be romantic just isn’t particularly romantic. In fact, is romance even still a thing, or has it been replaced with plastic flowers and Miley Cirus songs? We may have forgotten that it’s actually the little unsuspected sticky with a hand scrawled note, discovered mid-random-morning in your work lunchbox.
On the 2nd February, I asked a friend’s twenty-year old son what he and his girlfriend were doing for MUD. Oh, he said, she’s made me a card, and I’ll probably just buy her one. I couldn’t believe that he knew she’d made him a card TWELVE DAYS before! Is Valentine’s Day where romance goes to die?
Half the problem is that there’s all this pressure exerted on one day. Most men know they have to do something, anything, so they don’t get in trouble. And women are just so hopeful and expectant. Particularly those women who find themselves in long-term relationships, teetering on the edge of that next level.
So for these women, on MUD (as well as birthdays, anniversaries and New Year’s Eve) every sentence and action is scrutinized. Is he more nervous than usual? Does he keep feeling for his pocket? Is this the big proposal, or did I get my nails done for nothing? Oh he ordered champagne, he usually just drinks wine. And then it comes:
Will you… he starts.
Yes yes, oh god yes… she says.
Will you… pass me the salt? He finishes, raising a confused eyebrow.
Then she’s grumpy with him for a month but she can’t tell him why.
Abolishing VD is never going to happen, I’d be naïve to suggest that. Florists everywhere would go out of business, and we all know they’re actually fronts for drug laundering and the gay Mafioso, so they’re never going to let that happen.
But instead, maybe we can simply relook a couple of things next time. One of the great flaws of our current universe is that we struggle to leave good enough alone. We like to take a unique thing of beauty, like giving someone a rose, and really mess with it. Rearrange it, fiddle with it and give it a uniform name, till it’s no longer recognizable from its original form. We tend to be scissor-happy with life.
Take advertising, the industry I’m in, for example. If you’re a really good writer, chances are, after a couple of years you’ll get promoted to being a Creative Director, so you have to write less and manage people more. Which is odd since that’s not the bit of life you were necessarily good at. It happens elsewhere too. If you’re a really good advocate you get promoted to being a judge. In politics, if you’re a really good liar, you get promoted to president. And in love, if you’re a fantastic girlfriend, you get promoted to being a wife.
A friend on facebook really made me think about all of this recently. It was his birthday and he posted, ‘Lisa got up early this morning to make me birthday pancakes, because that’s what best friends do.’
Now I happen to know that Lisa is his girlfriend. But I love that he sees her outside of her role as main nag, laundry doer and ball and chain, and that he recognises her most important role in their relationship, that of best friend.
Some of the most solid, successful relationships I know contain a pair of best friends. Independently of their roles as bread-winner, key finder, sock washer, and nappy changer, they honestly and truly, legitimately like each other.
So feeling inspired, I messaged the guy I’m currently dating, and told him that he’s my friend. Thanks a lot! he said, more than a little miffed. Then I realised he’d seen it as a demotion from boyfriend, whereas I was seeing it as the complete opposite.
Boyfriends and husbands are often complicated, non-commital and confusing, and girlfriends and wives can be people you have to call, rather than people you want to call. While a friend is just someone that you dig hanging out with, who you trust, and would never treat badly, and who you’re always there for, over decades and continents. The way I see it, you don’t get more of a compliment.
So when next Valentine’s Day rolls around, if you want to compliment someone in your life, instead of making them a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, maybe just promote them to best friend, now that’s romantic.