What we really need is a festival to celebrate love's many torments. Bring on Unvalentine's Day
How about a range of cards with bitter messages for ex-lovers - You Ruined My Life or How Can You Sleep at Night?
The Guardian, Monday February 11 2008
This week, millions of people across the country will celebrate the crippling delusion known as "love" by sending flowers, booking restaurants and placing stomach-churning small ads in newspapers. Valentine's Day - the only national occasion dedicated to mental illness - is a stressful ordeal at the best of times.
If you've just started seeing someone, the day is fraught with peril. Say your current dalliance only began less than a month ago: is sending a card a bit full-on? What if you ignore it, only to discover they've bought you a 5kg Cupid-shaped diamond in a presentation box made of compressed rose petals?
Few things are worse than receiving a heartfelt Valentine's gift from someone you're still not sure about. It's a crystallising moment: chances are you'll suddenly know, deep in your bones, that they're not the one for you. And while your gut contemplates that sad reality, your brain repeatedly screams at your face not to give the game away, and you have to gaze at them with a fake smile and a fake dewy expression, until the pressure and shame involved in maintaining the facade makes you start to hate them for pointless reasons, like the stupid way they sit, or the stupid way they breathe, or the stupid way their pupils dilate when they look at you, planning your life together.
For those in established relationships, it's a perfunctory, grinding ceremony. On February 14 restaurants nationwide play host to joyless couples begrudgingly sharing an overpriced meal in near-silence, each of them desperately trying to avoid a row because, well, it's Valentine's Day, and nothing says "I sort of love you, I think, although I can't really tell any more" quite like the ability to sustain an awkward, argument-free detente for one 24-hour period a year.
And, of course, if you're single, it's a thudding reminder of your increasingly desperate isolation. You're stranded somewhere out on Thunderbird Five, picking up chuckles and kissy-sounds from the planet below, separated from the action by the cold gulf of space. It's especially sharp if you've just been dumped and are feeling pretty raw about it, thanks. Under those circumstances, it's a cruel joke: you're like a one-legged man on National Riverdance Day.
What's required is something to redress the balance: an Unvalentine's Day, if you will. A day that actively celebrates love's festering undercarriage. February 15 is ideal: there will be plenty of willing participants by then. Of course, if Unvalentine's Day is going to succeed, it will require commercial backing - which shouldn't be a problem, because there are loads of money-spinning opportunities here.
First off, how about a range of Unvalentine cards containing bitter messages for ex-lovers? Typical example: a mournful cartoon bunny with a harpoon lodged in its chest cavity, staggering blank-faced into oncoming traffic, with YOU RUINED MY LIFE printed across the top in massive, scab-red lettering. Or perhaps a Photoshopped image of Hitler snoozing in bed, accompanied by the words HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? Naturally, each card would have a little poem on the inside, something such as: Roses are red/Violets are blue/I'm a meaningless robot/Molested by you.
There would also be a range aimed at disillusioned long-term couples: epithets include I CAN'T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS, IT ISN'T REALLY WORKING, and our-bestseller, the starkly effective DYING INSIDE.
The aforementioned restaurants can get in on the act too, by hosting Unvalentine meals specially designed for couples on the verge of a break-up. There'd be no red wine, so you can chuck drinks over each other without ruining your clothes, and all the food would be incredibly spicy, so when you tell your partner of seven years that you're seeing someone else, and tears start pouring down both your faces, anyone nosey enough to look on will simply think you're reacting to the chillies. The toilets would be manned by male and female prostitutes, so you can indulge in some cathartic, self-hating rebound sex within five minutes of getting the old heave-ho.
Cheating on your partner, incidentally, is actively encouraged on Unvalentine's Day. Consider it a 24-hour carte blanche to shag whoever you please. Developing an obsession with someone in the office? Get it out of your system on February 15! Let's face it, it's probably good for both of you in the long run.
As well as celebrating the death of existing loves, Unvalentine's Day can also accommodate all the loves that never were: the thwarted crushes, unrequited yearnings, and hopeless unspoken dreams. So if there's a friend you're desperately holding a candle for, even though they've pointed out time and time again that it's never going to happen, this is your "me-time": you're permitted to call them up and howl down the phone for half an hour, or stand pleading outside their window like a sap. And for one day only, it's illegal for anyone to pity you.
In summary, Unvalentine's Day promises to be the most coldly practical celebratory festival in history - a far healthier affair than Valentine's Day itself. True love is so uncontrollably delightful, there's no need to set aside a mere day in its honour. As for love's torments - well, it's probably best to compress and release them in a single, orderly burst, once a year. And that day is February 15. Mark it in your diary. Next to the tearstains.
This week Charlie bought a new computer and spent what seemed like 5,000 hours clicking dialog boxes in Windows Vista: "Which feels more like a satirical cartoon about infuriating bureaucracy than an operating system."
Yes, This little Kitty has Someone right now, but the article amused me anyways.