Valentine’s Day embarrasses me.

it’d be too much to say that i hate it. i don’t hate it. i like chocolate too much to expend any energy actually hating prefabricated holidays. but it makes me blush and freeze up, confused.

i avert my eyes. me? nah, you can’t be talking to ME. just toss the chocolate on over the fence and be off.

for me, Valentine’s is like a door-to-door religious proselytizer, calling me out to love Jesus. i mean, Jesus is a perfectly good guy. we could hang. but whatever he’s got to do with that nasty eternal damnation scene they’re selling in their handy magazine escapes me: i do not accept the premises. i could talk faith, hope and charity all night long but a fundamental philosophical black hole would still gape across the doorstep because – at the core – we do not speak the same language, and they do not know how to call my name.

Valentine’s is the same goddam thing. it stands there, smiles perky, looks me up and down. instead of being blindly judged as a sinner, i feel like i’m being nudged to go trim the hedge, already, write a sonnet, and then frock up in some weird drag parody cross of June Cleaver and a Playboy Bunny. sex? obligatory, says the spectre of culture parked on my threshhold. never mind that there’s absolutely nothing more sexless than obligatory sex. you will Like It. didn’t you get roses, after all?

i’d like to put V-Day over my knee and pull its hair. let me tell you how you got love wrong, i’d say, and the words would come.

now take those poor wilting flowers and get out of here. come back when you can surprise me. leave the chocolate.
***

these are the words i think i’d steal, for the occasion. for Dave. who calls my name.

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Edna St. Vincent Millay – 1931