Black For A Patron Saint

Yes, yes. I know what tomorrow is. You’d think this place would be all over it, wouldn’t you? One of my many goals here is to make a serious resource for such things. But really, I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. It has nothing to do with making singles feel bad, though I can understand feeling a bit left out. (Curiously, most of those same victims of feelbaddery will, on most days, claim that no one can make you feel anything, at least without your permission. Make of that what you will.) It also has nothing to do with crass commercialization or watering down the idea of the holiday, although I can sympathize with those sentiments as well. No, my objection is to the threat.

In college, the group I lived with began a tradition of dressing up for Valentine’s Day – in all black. Naturally there was the occasional objection that we were anti-romantic, but the opposite was in fact the case. To a man, we valued romance enormously. We understood (in our nascent way) its source and definition. And we understood very well that the idea of obligatory romance is not only contradictory, but is in fact an anti-romantic thought pattern. Though the term “creepy” had yet to become common and expand to its current, arguably excessive, set of definitions, the weird gleefulness that overtook a great many girls on campus around the 10th of February would definitely have qualified. That it was only the girls is something I only recently noticed. The lads might not have figured out the concept, I’m not sure. Maybe they were just less obvious about it. But the procedure was simple: nab someone by the end of January and be sure they know they’re on the hook for something.

“So you don’t do anything at all on Valentine’s Day?” was the very natural follow-on question. But again, nothing could have been further from the truth. We took delight in outdoing ourselves on that day, even as we tacitly but visibly objected to it. Any girl associated with one of us was guaranteed a creative and personalized expression of romance, and probably a whole series of them. Thus the use not only of all black but of dressed-up all black. We valued love and its expressions far too much either to prostrate ourselves to “YOU’D BETTER!” or to sit out entirely.

Besides, anyone who makes such demands must know, somewhere beneath a raft of denial, that it’s very nearly worthless. The only explanation I’ve heard (that holds water) is that it’s the only time one can be assured some expression of affection. If that is the case, by all means go find someone more expressive! There is really no shortage out there of wonderful people! I maintain that trying to extort tenderness can never be anything but hollow. Best to let someone express their appreciation for you in the way, and in the timing, that works for their ideas, their situation, your relationship style, your personality, your mutual interests. It’s a lovely day to be lovely to each other: the Feast of Saint Valentine is as good a reason and as good a day as the other 364, and it comes with more social acceptance for extravagance for doing so. Any excuse for love!

You’re part of this garden’s process of improving our ability to live to give pleasure, you know: here you are always welcome to share your thoughts, your knowledge. Together we’ll build understanding and ideas, skills and resources, and be able to make any day special, and special days amazing.

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