Forced Romanceon February 14, 2011 at 3:01 am
Won’t You Be My Valentine
”Won’t You Be My Valentine,” our latest strip, may be somewhat disingenuous. True, between Nicole and myself, I am far more likely to be the one pushing for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, or, more likely than that, a romantic anniversary dinner, or, even more likely, to remember the date of any anniversary – be it when we began dating or when we got married – but, in all honesty, the chances of us actually carrying through with a Valentine’s dinner are rather slim.
There is something disconcerting about forced romance, about the expectation that on this date above all others you must show your affection. If Nicole expected that sort of relationship from me, or I from her, this marriage would be doomed. I am not a man for grand gestures – simple gestures, sure, but grand, no. I do not exist in a world of movie style romance.
In the world of the cinema, and television, Valentine’s Day would seem to call for the extreme. With the working spouse, he or she might as well expect to be surprised by an office full of stuffed animals, chocolate candies and roses from wall to wall. My mind boggles at this excess. Hell, I cringe at the cost of a mere dozen roses, and, much as I love her, Nicole’s damn lucky she doesn’t like them… because I’m cheap. Plus, I prefer the gift of me continuing to pay my share of the bills over a gesture that bankrupts me. I’m silly that way.
Just think of Ross from Friends, Ted from How I Met Your Mother, or any number of other lovelorn protagonists. Think of the protestations of love abundant in romantic films, from Drew Barrymore waiting on a baseball field, to Hugh Grant sneaking into a press conference to convince his love to stay with him in London, to Leo dying for Kate Winslet – this last one being way over the top. Why not, at least, ask her to take turns on that floating piece of debris? And don’t even mention Richard Gere climbing a fire escape to “save” his love and become her knight in shining armor. After paying a prostitute to stay in your hotel suite for a week it is very difficult to actually recast yourself as a pure and virtuous savior. Plus he was kind of an ass in that movie. Watch it again. It’s there. With two decades between now and the movie’s initial glow, it becomes far easier to see the protagonist for the true jerk that he is in this film (no matter his minor redemptive inclinations).
My point here is that the media has created a sense of romance as the extravagant gesture, a gesture so bold that no normal man or woman can live up to that expectation. No plan, no matter how romantic, can ever reach the ideal now engrained by the glossy romance of films. Nor should it need to meet this criteria.
Yet Valentine’s Day stands as the reigning holiday for this grand gesture. Film, commercials, and even your local supermarket try to drill home the necessity of extravagance – the idea that you must express your love in showy, and expensive, gifts, shower your significant other in wine and chocolate, and you must do it on this one day, above all others. This seems a disservice to the other 364 days.
Me, I’ll continue to express my love in small, simple, but equally meaningful gestures on a daily basis. Or maybe weekly. At the very least monthly – I am a busy person. Whatever the frequency, though, a simple can of coconut juice, a roll of sushi, or a quiet evening of Criminal Minds (or perhaps one of her shows…like The Nanny, if I must) – that’s my idea of romance. As for Valentine’s Day, while the idea seems nice at first glance, in the end I think I’ll opt out.
Of course, all that being said, I’m writing this after having finished an early Valentine’s dinner with my wife at one of our local West Hollywood haunts (The Belmont – highly recommended). So you might say we do share some notion of romance. I say to you, however, you have never seen me eating snow crab legs. If you had, you would know that this is the antithesis of romance and all things Valentine’s. But to each their own.
Happy Valentine’s Day!