Surviving Valentine’s Day

2015-02-08 11:08

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In South Africa we like to blame things on the “Western paradigm”.

President Jacob Zuma notably said corruption is not a crime around these parts because it’s a “Western thing”. Not everyone agreed with him, but hey.

So, while we’re hating on the Western paradigm, please allow me.

Of all the despicable things we can blame on the West – like size zero models and Kenny G – Valentine’s Day is the foulest by far.

The problem with February 14 is plentiful and complex. And frankly guys, the least of our concerns here is the fact that V-Day is a remnant of Christian liturgy or a hat-tip to some old fart named Valentinus.

The real balls-up with Valentine’s Day is what it has become, what we’ve made of it. Yup, you and I.

The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer initiated the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day many moons ago. A cheesy but sweet tradition evolved; think hand-written notes, daisy chains, knees brushing under candlelit tables, various degrees of exuberant unchastity under the stars, or not.

Then humanity went and spoiled it all by getting whipped. We became needy. The capitalist monster took heed and boom, the vile romance machine was born.

The vile romance machine is red and shiny and wrapped in extravagant promise; it is insatiable, fed by our expectations, which it inflates in exchange. It is a Catch 22 of Hellerian proportions.

This, my friends, is war; the war of love in a time of immediate gratification and consumer hype.

The vile romance machine manifests next to pay-point aisles, in window displays, in social media clickbait like “Don’t be alone on Valentine’s Day! To find your soulmate click here!”

It consumes dollars. In its wake? A candy-lane of emotional mayhem, a veritable cemetery of dashed expectations and unrequited need.

As with most things in life this quackery is compounded by technology, for what are V-Day spoils if not shared with the Joneses of Facebook, the Khumalos of the Twittersphere.

People always fight on Valentine’s Day. Why? Because nothing can ever quite satisfy our appetites, teased into a ravenous frenzy by that vile f**king romance machine.

“Soul-mate?” Lol. I can’t say it better than Pamela Druckerman in the New York Times: “There are no soul mates … In fact, ‘soul mate’ isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.”

Time, now there’s a notion. How about investing some of that. In our digital age of perpetual distraction, there is no bigger compliment than simply being present. Put down your phone; attention is sexy.

Yeah sure, if it makes you happy wear skanky undies, or none; buy flowers, do nice things. But not once a year because you have to. Do it all the frikking time because you want to, because it’s uhm, nice.

Most importantly friends, do not wait for someone to love you. Love thyself. Light a candle in your heart, smell some apples, have an orgasm or cake. Go out and thrive.

In a country where blame-shifting is practically a national sport it must be said: if the vile romance machine pushes your buttons wrong, the only one to blame is yourself.

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