If statistics are to be believed, two days from now six million American couples will become engaged. Hearts will flutter, rings will be proffered by sweaty palms and twelve million people will remember Valentine’s Day 2016 as the happiest of their lives. Maybe.
Chances are most of these betrothals will take place in front of a meal, much to the delight of restaurateurs big and small. But when did this habit of celebrating Valentine’s Day at a fancy restaurant, in fancy clothes really start? I am afraid it might be an invention of my generation and a by-product of the disposable income available to post-war baby boomers. I certainly don’t remember my parents going out on February 14; at most, there were roses, and I am not even sure of that.
Valentine begins innocuously enough with cards, candy and crushes in school but then, with adulthood approaching, we cave in to the pressure of spending money on a meal, that restaurateurs cannily turned into a prix-fixe meal invariably featuring lobster and/or steak and some chocolate dessert. Wine pairing optional.
After a disastrous Thai dinner, peppered with belly dancing table side, back in 1991 or 1992, I vowed to never again spend another February 14 sitting amidst a sea of couples pretending to enjoy the harried service and the mediocre fare, gazing into each other’s eyes, as if on this particular day it’s de rigueur to love each other more.
Shouldn’t we endeavor to organize fun outings, cook lobster dinners and wear kinky lingerie on a regular basis? Shouldn’t we buy roses or gaze into each other’s eyes a bit more often? Do we really need a day to be reminded how precious our relationships are? Shouldn’t a celebration of love be inclusive of all the meaningful people in our lives who don’t belong into our coupledom?
In that spirit, and inspired by Lena Dunham’s newsletter “Lenny”, this Valentine’s Day I will certainly treasure my romantic love, far from a restaurant, but will also extend a particular thought to all the women who enrich my life every day.
Write Lena and Jenni in the introduction to this week’s Lenny:
“Friendships between women are as complex and ephemeral and necessary as any romance, and when you find a really good one you hold on for dear life.”
However you choose to celebrate it, or ignore it, have a love filled Sunday.