That’s right – Groundhog Day!
Har har, okay, Eros don’t forsake me now… it’s Valentine’s Day!
Seriously, does any other day have the power to strike such mixed feelings/dread in the hearts of otherwise well-adjusted people?
I don’t know how men feel about this holiday, although I suspect they either don’t understand what all the fuss is about and/or hope they can appropriately “gift” their partner without getting in hot water and/or breaking the bank.
If they’re single, I imagine they heave a sigh of relief.
As a woman, I can tell you how it’s gone for me.
When I was just a wee lass attending Jewish day school, we didn’t celebrate such “goyish” holidays. So no construction paper hearts or cardiac-shaped chocolates from little Shlomo for me! Still, we managed to let our crushes know how we felt in the way all kids of the ’80s did – by passing sweet nothings on folded notebook paper.
Now that I’m older and uber liberated (har), my contemporaries do participate in days like Halloween, which are festive without being overly Christian. So yahoo, Valentine’s Day: gifts, flower petals, love, little Necco candy hearts!
Yet no matter how hectic a romantic life I’ve conducted over the course of the year, I usually end up valentine-less on V-Day.
Some years I’ve felt oh so sorry for myself. Such lonely hearts, such wallflowers, my single girlfriends and I lamented! We vowed to have endless tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and tear-filled chick flick-fests on the day of, just to get through it.
Somehow we never did, yet the day would pass uneventfully - with us vowing hopefully to be coupled up by next year’s Day of 1,000 Cupids.
A few times, I actually managed to snag myself a man in time for the blessed day.
Oh, the joy! Jamie, my Clark Kent-lookalike (as my mother’s friend said – she meant it as a compliment) boyfriend from my early 20s, seemed like such a promising candidate. So handsome, so intelligent… so not into it.
“Every day should be Valentine’s Day!” he proclaimed. While I agreed with that sentiment, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Turned out I was right to be, since he did not exactly exert himself in other ways. Our romance did not end up being one for the ages – and I concluded that his V-Day cliché was just his way of getting out of making a gesture.
Another year, in my early 30s, I had been on 7 dates with Lester (not his real name, ha ha), a guy I was somewhat into. We were not yet in the relationship phase, but it would have been appropriate for him to acknowledge the day in some small, non-stalkerish way. Perhaps with a single flower, or even a toast of his vodka soda.
Instead, when we just so happened to be out on Heart Night and I remarked upon some decorations in the bar, he said in disgust, “Uch. Valentine’s Day. So stupid.” I didn’t respond, not wanting to seem like I was begging for a commitment.
The whole scene was so very New York. Now that I insist upon more respect from those I date, I know what I should have done was turn it into a discussion of why he was so adamantly against the Day of Darling Little Teddy Bears with Hearts in their Laps – and what that meant about what he was really looking for.
But I didn’t, and the end was typical of my dating life back then – we just fizzled out shortly thereafter with barely an instant message from him.
One boyfriend, the mythical love-of-my-life Steve, actually got it right, and gave me an envelope with rose petals in it, that contained – you guessed it (no you didn’t) – 2 tickets to the Blue Man Group show!
Too bad he had already seen it. I took my mom instead, and we had a good time. It was all very… blue. In any case, it was the nice thought that counted.
Honestly though, the best Valentine’s Day I’ve had in a while was here in Jerusalem.
Israel has its very own Jewish version of the day, Tu B’Av, which is held in the summer. It’s delightful.
But there is also some sort of acknowledgement of St. Valentine’s Day as well, and the restaurants take advantage of the opportunity and promote specials.
The year that I made aliya, a friend introduced me to a very nice guy, Alon. (Ah the irony – I was not going to be “alone”! Tee hee.) We made plans for a second date on a random night, and when we arrived at our Italian restaurant on Emek Refaim, we were perplexed to find the place adorned with red and white balloons.
Then it hit me in a flash of cotton candy-colored light: It was Eros Appreciation Day!
We had a great time, and I really enjoyed having a nice date on Valentine’s Day night. While Alon didn’t end up being my Knight on a White Stallion, it was a good experience. But what was really so nice, though, was that I had forgotten about February 14 until then, and therefore hadn’t pressured myself.
Israel is like that – whereas in America you would be bombarded for weeks leading up to the day, a lot of times here you won’t even realize a secular holiday is coming up.
That’s one of the things I love about living here.
Although if I was blissfully coupled up, I wouldn’t mind if the good citizens of the Holy City suddenly decided to plaster every available inch with sentiments about love, love, love.
But since I’m not in a relationship right now, I think I hear a pint of Chunky Monkey and a DVD of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” calling my name.