Monday, February 14, 2011

Suburbs of Our Discontent

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more. (Hamlet 4.5.50-7)

Valentine's Day has never really worked for me. Granted, I never pulled a drowning Ophelia or anything, but I can't say it's ever gone stupendously well either.

Once I baked a banana bread for a guy I’d been dating in grad school for maybe three weeks, because it was Valentine’s Day and he said it was his favorite dessert. Clearly I didn’t have a strong enough circle of girlfriends around me to point out the obvious: There’s no surer way to drive a guy away than to give him something on Valentine’s Day that shows you thought about it for more than five minutes. A hand-written card is bad enough, but home-baked goods? I really must have wanted him to dump me— which of course he did— but only after I’d put the offending loaf in the wrong grad student mailbox. And after that person passed it on to my "boyfriend." I’m pretty sure, if I’m remembering this correctly, that my soon-to-be-ex then told him he could keep it. Either that, or he left it in the Department Common Room for everyone to pick away at.

You'd think that would have hardened my Valentine's Day soft spot for good. But as much as I'd like to say I'm one of those people who looks with disdain on this bourgeois-materialistic-Hallmarkified-capitalist-driven day, I'm not.

Today my son came home with a pile of cards from his Kindergarten classmates scrawled with messages like: "you are my frend" and "I like you." And, you know what? I almost cried. So sue me.

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