It’s meant to be a day when all things lovely and romantic are celebrated, but for the majority of people around the world, let’s admit it, Valentine’s Day is thwart with anxiety.
Even supposedly happy couples can’t escape the anxiousness that arrives every February 14th, with an avalanche of dissonant thoughts going through individual partner’s minds. It might be something as fleeting as ‘Will she prefer flowers over chocolates?’ or ‘Are teddy bears too much this early into the relationship?’ or something a little more dramatic such as, ‘Shit, he wants to take me to the wine region this weekend and I’m having an affair with his best friend’.
Whatever the case or scenario, lest we forget the many single folks out there whoa re constantly confronted with reminders of their singledom everywhere they turn on this supposedly respectable day. Bumping into newsstands bursting with Hallmark cards… Passing florists overflowing with fat bunches of roses… Even coping with fricking Groupons that offer “Two-for-one meals for you and your loved one” and having Google throw love in our faces.
Which is why we’re happy to see companies now catering to a sadder freer audience at this time of the year, such as online website Yellow Octopus which this year offers a ‘Heartbreak Hamper’: a box full of goodies aimed to cheer individuals up who have just come out of a relationship or who are simply going through Valentine’s hell alone.
Like most hampers, it comes in a nice box, but that is where the similarities end. This is no sugar-coated cashew nut and quince paste commodity. The Heartbreak Hamper is a professionally designed survival kit that includes a bottle of Pour Decisions Chardonnay, a single wine glass, bar of ‘Emotional Rescue’ chocolate, and even a packet of Kleenex . Oh, and a Lifesaver Vibrator, if you’re really keen to shake off those negative thoughts.
Being single, after all, may have more benefits than being in a relationship. You get to do what you want when you want. There’s no waiting around to use the bathroom while he’s busy manscaping or she’s busy doing whatever she’s doing that takes two hours. There are no expectations, no delays, no envious run-ins, no crucial dates to remember, nor friends of his or hers to pretend to get along with. The list of benefits is endless, really.
The world of literature, too, is offering alternatives to all things romantic.
Smith Street Books recently released a nifty little book in the form of Love Sucks, subtitled The Truth About Romance from The World’s Greatest Cynics where inside you’ll find critique and commentary on the darker side of relationships from a host of authors, artists, actors and historic icons.
From Plato who once declared “Love is a madness”, to Sylvia Plath who said “I don’t care about anyone, and the feeling is obviously mutual”, to Noël Coward who exclaimed “To hell with god damned ‘L’Amour’!”, right through to modern anecdotes from the likes of Chris Rock, Chuck Palahniuk, Henry Rollins and Morrissey, this book does a dandy good job in debunking the rosy myth of romance.
But it’s nightlife where the real radical shift is being seen, with bars across the US and Australia providing incentive for single folk and duped lovers to come out and play again. The Bluewater at Intercontinental Miami, for example, is hosting a ‘Not Your Valentine’ night, offering cheap drinks to singles and other rewards for doing this day alone.
But what’s that you say? You’ve just gotten into a cosy new relationship? Well one last warning for those who have; this one coming from the pen of Paulo Coelho who also appears in the Love Sucks pocketbook: Remember, that “In fairy tales, the Princesses kiss the Frogs and the Frogs become Princes… In real life, the Princesses kiss the Princes, and the Princes turn into Frogs.”
Enough said, then. Lisa Andrews &Antonino Tati
‘Love Sucks: The Truth About Romance From The World’s Greatest Cynics’ by Daria Summers is published through Smith Street Books, RRP $24.99.