Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bad romance

Picture the scene: A 40-something wife and mother waits patiently for hubby to come home bearing gifts and gushing expressions of undying love. She'd half-expected an extravagant floral display to be delivered to her workplace, for all her colleagues to admire, but when it never materialised she reckoned he was saving his romance for later in the day. 
Money’s tight, and she’s told him she doesn’t expect anything, really.... but the Valentine’s hype has sown a seed of hope of a grand gesture from her man of more than 20 years. 
He eventually gets home, tired and apologetic, at 9pm and hands her a bunch of daffodils with a peck on the lips and a murmured “Love you, darling”. She smiles, blinks back the tears, swallows past the lump in her throat and goes back to the ironing.

In another front room, a 17-year-old girl bawls into the sofa cushions, convinced that she is unloved and unlovable because her boyfriend of two months failed to step up to the romantic plate with highly public declarations of undying love and huge fluffy toys presented in front of admiring schoolmates.
And no, the anonymous card she knows her dad sent her doesn’t make her feel any better. He’s her father – of course HE loves her.

Elsewhere, a newly single lady browses through the Facebook album chronicling her time with her most recent ex up until the time they broke up.
Everywhere she looks, loved-up couples are drooling over each other in a pre-prescribed obligatory gloop-fest, as she looks bleakly into a future she’s convinced she will spend alone and unwanted.

All three are miserable – and they really have no reason to be.
Mrs Wife and Mother could be enjoying an evening of comfortable companionship with the man who knows her as well as she knows herself. The forlorn teen should be celebrating the very fact that she’s young, probably in the best shape she’ll ever be in and utterly unencumbered by the worries and responsibilities of real life. And our sad singleton should be out with her best buddies reveling in the fact that she is free of obligations at a time in history when it’s OK for a woman to have a good time without having her reputation sullied by small minds waiting to judge her.

Instead, they’re sad, disappointed and feeling slightly discarded. And that is the direct result of the machinations of a chubby winged cherub who should be swatted like a pesky fly the minute he flies in through the open window.

I’m willing to bet that all three would be perfectly content if it weren’t for that wretched little Cupid, his arrows and all the hype and hysteria surrounding St Valentine’s Day that raises the expectations of women and girls (and let’s face it, SVD is sold exclusively as a day on which fellas have to shell out for flowers, chocs, undies or jewellery for their ladies – never the other way around).

I know. I’ve been there. In all three scenarios. But finally, as I hurtle through my fiftieth year, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is enough heartache in the world. I don't need to create more by building up expectations for something out of this world when the real test of true love is not a pink fluffy heart, or a cartoon cat on a card saying “To my PURRRRfect girlfriend”Love and romance cannot be turned on and off like a light, depending on the day of the year. It’s supposed to be spontaneous, so isn’t it just a little bit daft to raise our hopes to stratospheric levels, whilst knowing that we will most likely be disappointed?

My inner cynic even suspects that it may all a cheap pay-off to stop us womenfolk complaining, getting all ‘feministic’ or – heaven forfend! – ceasing to run around like skivvies tending to our Lords and Masters for the remaining 364 days of the year. After all, we get spoiled rotten on St Valentine’s Day, don’t we? Surely, we can’t complain about inequality in our relationships when we are showered with romantic gifts on some arbitrary day mid-way between New Year and the First Day of Spring – or can we?   

Don’t get me wrong. Please don’t dismiss me as a bolshy, dungaree-wearing, bra-burning (you’ve got to be kidding, right?)  Killjoy or the Grinch that strangled romance.

I am – in fact - a diehard romantic. I love the love poems of Roger McGough, still get a lump in my throat watching “Love, Actually” and have even been moved to tears by the unexpected arrival in the office of a personally prepared fruit salad from my Significant Other on a day when there’s more work to be done than time to breathe (let alone eat).

That is exactly why I get so frustrated by the mass-produced, copy/paste tat that couples are expected to indulge in on a specific day in February, and that we’re all supposed to get gooey-eyed about.

Honestly, I would quite happily turn Cupid's own arrows on the fat little fart and keep shooting til he stops flapping and bleeds pretty pink all over the floor. 

Surely, opening the book you’re reading as you board your flight for a business trip to find an unexpected handwritten note from your beau saying “I miss your smile when you’re not here” is far more romantic that a cheap Care Bear with a tacky “Be my Valentine!” stitched into its chest, brought in a panic from the service station as the Ovver Arf tops up his petrol and grabs an emergency bunch of sorry-looking tulips?

I know I’ve probably shot myself in the foot here.
My Significant Other may take this as my permission to never make another romantic gesture for the rest of our lives. If he does, so be it. I know he loves me just as he knows I love him. If I know he’s going to continue to be there with me, propping me up when the going gets tough and letting me prop him up when it all gets too much, I can do without the tacky red roses thank you very much.

But a nice bottle of cheeky red, and no housework waiting for me when I get home from work this Friday, THAT would be the kind of romance I could rock.


  1. Ah I love this. And everything you say is true.

    I still want a present though.:D

  2. Great post! Valentines Day is just shopping masquerading as romance anyway!