Saturday, February 16, 2013

Papercuts and Sugar Highs


Papercuts and Sugar Highs

I was single this Valentine’s Day, just like every Valentine’s Day. This used to really bother me, until recent years. It was about two years ago that I realized, “Holidays like this exist as a part of a conspiracy to sell greeting cards and candy.”

That either means one of two things: One that the greeting card and confectionary industries are in cahoots. Two, that the pharmaceutical industries are in cahoots with said candy and greeting card manufacturers. They’re trying to sell us bandages from the paper cuts we get from Valentines. And they want us on insulin from the sugar shock acquired from chocolate heart boxes. I don’t think this latter theory holds water, not even a Dixie cup full. But if it makes you feel any better, then be my guest. Just don’t blame me if you build a bunker in your backyard, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre doesn’t come again.

There is a conspiracy, most assuredly. But this conspiracy is not one perpetrated by Illuminati-Build-A-Hamburger-Masons. It is a conspiracy perpetrated by ourselves against ourselves. We are taught from an early age that we MUST have fun during a holiday, any holiday; even a minor league one like St. Valentine’s Day. The pressure doesn’t come from the usual suspects as much (The Media, your parents, your friends, your pets, that collection of sentient dust bunnies under your bed) as it does with other holidays. Christmas is a time when there is tremendous pressure to “feel the spirit.” New Years Eve is seen as a last hurrah; a day to get all saved up debauchery in, before it’s too late. Well, I can tell you that I can get in a night’s debauchery anytime; assuming that I have enough gummy worms, horror films, and lube within reach. No, I’ll leave you to imagine what I do with those things. I’m not giving it up for free, you know.

The one annoying thing about Valentine’s Day is that it is dedicated to romance with a partner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very romantic guy. But why do we need a holiday to remind us to love a significant other? Why not do it any day of the week? And why does one need a reason, or a season? Why not just commit random acts of romance anytime you feel like it? For that matter, we don’t have a holiday dedicated to self-love, or self-esteem. We always have holidays dedicated to some external force.

Not to sound existential, but we rarely consider in our culture the stress these holidays place on the single person. For that matter, we rarely work through the stress it causes a married, or coupled, person. You may feel like a loser if you’re single on Valentine’s Day. You might feel even worse if you have a significant other, but can’t afford an expensive outing. If the latter is the case, then you’re not so doomed after all. There’s nothing wrong with a single rose, a cuddle session on the couch, and a tub full of Mr. Bubble.

However, if you fit into the former category, you are just as fortunate. If you are single, the road is open for you to explore. You are free to find the partner or your choice. If your previous partners weren’t who you expected, or desired, you now have the freedom to find who you want. You can do as you please, and not worry about leaving the toilet seat up, or down.

We celebrate holidays for a reason. We experience them to brighten to dullness of everyday life. They are also a way to mark the passage of time. You’ll remember your favorite Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo, Fifth of November, and Mortal Monday (for all of you Mortal Kombat fans out there). You may revile Valentine’s Day; that’s ok if you do. Nobody is holding a cupid’s arrow to your head, and saying, “You WILL love Valentine’s Day, or else!” Nobody should feel that kind of pressure.

As a currently single man, I can say that I have found the source of the conspiracy. As I wrote earlier, it is not a cabal that is behind the curtain. It is the individual that is behind the curtain, leering and sneering. It isn’t the holiday itself, but how we perceive it. Each person is a sole conspirator in the plot to make oneself feel bad during any holiday. And while no one wants to feel unloved, or left-out, remember that Valentine’s Day is just that--a day. You will wake up on February 15th, and feel no more, or less loved; single, or partnered. You will feel how you feel, whether it be sexy, bored, loved, annoyed, or just indifferent. Acknowledging how you feel is more important than candied hearts. Exploring those feelings, during any holiday, gives more meaning to the holiday, and how we feel about ourselves.

Copyright R.X. Joyce 2013.

    I confess! I'm the Man Who Murdered Love! That's what XTC proclaimed in this song.