Tuesday, February 14, 2006

On the upside of soul-sucking bitterness

Okay, so I was going to skip the Valentine's Day post. Universally, any single person who isn't a fan of Valentine's Day is filed away as a bitter, loveless hag. And I've never pretended to be anything else. But after a few conversations with women I know - women who have boyfriends or husbands (or both) and who did get flowers (and y'all, it's not too late; I like alstroemeria, and I'm pretty sure Delta DASH will take flower arrangements) - who feel the same way that I do. So here it is, for all you women who are too timid to say it and you men who have been waiting to hear it:

Screw Valentine's Day. Sideways. With a brick.

My problem (and it's not just my problem) with Valentine's Day is that it perpetuates the myth that people only have to be thoughtful and romantic one day a year. Guys make reservations (or fail to) at swanky restaurants and buy (or forget to) chocolates and sparkly things, girls buy cuddly pink stuffed animals and red boxer shorts with hearts on them and then give them to guys, and the next day, she's not bothering to shave her legs and he's laughing hysterically because he thinks a "Dutch oven" is an appropriate sign of affection for a 25-year-old. What's the point of a 24-hour romance-a-palooza if you're going to be a crappy partner the other 21,855 hours of the year?

My proposal - and one seconded by Holly and Mary and Georgia and just about any other woman you ask, if she'll be honest - is to scotch the entire Valentines experience and replace it with Be A Dick Day. You heard me. Every February 14th from now on should be celebrated with some of the lousiest, most obnoxious, most relationship-negative behavior imaginable. Men? This is where the aforementioned Dutch oven comes into play. Ladies? If you've got a stack of DVDs starring men far hotter than he is, today's the day to watch them. Table manners, and pants, should go right out the window. On the off chance that you do go out for a meal, both of you need to forget your wallet.

The tradeoff, though, involves not Being A Dick the other 364 days. That means Being Considerate. She doesn't like to touch the icky food on the plate? You load the dishwasher. He loaded the dishwasher for you? You unload it. Buy her underwear based on what she'd wear rather than what you'd like to see. Rent a movie that he's been wanting to watch - and then don't talk through it. If you know she's worried about her weight, take her to a restaurant that offers healthy menu options. If you know he's worried about his hairline, find him a nickname that doesn't include the word "Baldy-bear."

Being Considerate is a tricky concept, though. It's deceptive. Sometimes, you do what you think is considerate, but it turns out you're actually Being A Dick. Here's the litmus test: Ask yourself who will be most impressed by what you've done. If the answer is "his/her friends," sorry, you're Being A Dick. Being Considerate means impressing your significant other, not the rest of the world. If the ring is two carats of blindingly sparkly VVS1 oval-cut diamond, but she likes smaller stones and emerald cuts? You're thinking about you, not her; you're Being A Dick. If the shirt is a gorgeous shade of teal silk that really brings out the color of his eyes and makes him feel like a male figure skater? You're thinking about him, not you; you're Being A Dick.

I can't speak for every woman, but I know I can speak for a few of them, and they would give Valentine's Day a miss for the rest of their lives if it meant having that little extra bit of consideration the rest of the year. Whether or not you did something Valentine-esque today, you can always do something considerate tomorrow. Don't bitch at him about his clothes. Wake her up without the use of a trombone. And then, when February 14, 2007 rolls around? Be A Dick. It's the romantic thing to do.

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