February, yuck!  Christmas is but a faint memory, the Groundhog has seen his shadow, and the Northern hemisphere can look forward to a couple more weeks of shivering and cursing.  Now if that wasn’t bad enough, you can chuck February 14th into the mix. And if you are male, that means the dreaded recurrence of the annual St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Now, while Bugsy Moran’s boys were shot down in cold blood, at least they only suffered one Massacre.  We men, however, suffer through mass media’s idea of love, complete with all the guilt and tension that surrounds it.  Flowers, jewellery, dinner, perfume, lingerie…what do I do, what does she want? How do I show how much she means to me? I can hear the wails of male angst as I write.

And why? Just why, oh why, is it like that?

Now unless you are one of those annoying pricks of a male (you know the kind who rents a white Arabian charger and a full suit of armour to propose kind-of guy, the bastard who just ups the ante to unattainable limits for us normal guys) Valentine’s Day is nothing but a pressure cooker.  Implicitly, subliminally, covertly it is a sad truth that it is the man’s job to be the Romantic one. It’s his job to make the plans, book the venue, and make it a memorable 14 February (or the Saturday before or after, as schedules permit, and when payday happens to fall.)

And what a challenge it is…I mean what is romantic to him, may not be so romantic for her.  Valentine’s Day octagon-side seats to a UFC match? Nope.  Chicken wings and an NHL game on the pub’s big screen?  Doubt it.  A bottle of wine and Caligula? Dreaming…  None of those will cut it.  It is better to play it safe and break out the flowers and Under the Tuscan Sun or Chocolat

But really, what is Valentine’s Day? More importantly, what is expected? A casual question usually yields, a “Surprise me” or a “Something romantic”.   Not helpful.  And what do people think about the day?  A quick check of the Urban Dictionary shows that it is not all that popular – a day of sadness, anger, unfulfilled expectations. Probably not quite what Hallmark and Hershey’s had in mind, I’d guess.  (By the way, don’t get distracted by UD, it can trap you in its sticky, hilariously profane web…and what is seen (or read) can ever be unseen or unread…trust me).

Other sources say Valentine’s Day traces its roots to an ancient pagan holiday called Lupercalia.   Apparently on this day, men stripped naked, grabbed whips, and spanked young women in hopes of increasing female fertility. Now that’s romantic, isn’t it? I wonder when that tradition ended…“Armageddon, Armageddon…”

And who, exactly, is this poster child for those hopelessly in love, this Saint Valentine fellow?  Evidently, he was a martyr; he is the patron Saint of beekeepers, travellers, young people… and believe it or not…epilepsy and plague. How much more loving can you get than that?  Story goes that he married young Romans in secret, disobeying the Emperor’s edicts (evidently fighting age Roman men were more interested in getting laid than fighting wars for The Man – I guess it was a type of pre-Christ hippy movement).  And St V’s reward for the loving spoonful…a beheading. (Maybe that’s why men think with the little one…) Ironically, the figurative beheading still seems to be a tradition that exists today – ask any man who does not recognise Valentine’s Day appropriately.

And what about all those other icons…like Cupid. Now there’s the epitome of Valentine’s Day romance.  But really, he is nothing more than a mythical, chubby, diapered boy-man who shoots arrows at people, changing them into human versions of Pepé Le Pew; They lose all inhibitions and become uncomfortably amorous. Could you imagine that today? A semi-naked, diaper-clad little man, flitting along putting Spanish Fly and Flunitrazepam in random people’s drinks?  Very creepy, indeed…

If I haven’t made it clear already, I am a Valentine’s Day Scrooge…” It’s all HUMBUG, I tell you, HUMBUG!”  Do not confuse my “humbug d’amour” as being a “love curmudgeon”.  True, I have not rented a metal codpiece or greaves to impress my fair lady; but, I do love her and I am not afraid to tell her so, often, and when I want.  I object to the very idea that there is a specific day on which someone is mandated to show their love for their spouse or partner.  I love my wife everyday – all equally. I do not love her more on 14 February and less on other days.  Nobody who is in love does that.  And by saying that there is one day that is a must, people are excused from demonstrating their love on those other 364 (and 365 in 2012.)

I don’t need to be chastised or cajoled by the florists or the chocolatiers or the card-makers or jewellers or perfumers that it is time to buy gifts or I am a miserable excuse of an amour. I am sure that such gifts would be just as appreciated on 11 May, or 16 September or other random date.  I bet they would be even more appreciated, because a surprise gift would come truly from the heart – not from a contrived sense of guilt created by commercial advertising.

Yet the expectation may be huge. If mass media’s guilt trip is too overwhelming, resist – do not yield to the siren call of big business.  Give a gift, but go back to your roots…a home-made card using Elmer’s glue, a doily and red construction paper… a handwritten note recalling one of your most memorable moments together…anything that makes you think of how much you love him or her.   I’d guess you can’t go wrong; it is a safe bet to spend the time, rather than the money.

And that is because real love is not in the gifts; it is about the committment. Like what is in these stories

So, Valentine’s day…I say HUMBUG. Like any other day of the year, I will tell my wife that I love her – probably more than once – and I will remind her that 14 February is just a signal that there are only 54 days until the Easter Bunny arrives…

And that’s that.  Sorry to run, but I have to go and check out the on-line florists…see you later!