Emma Teitel: Let’s make Valentines Day a day for everyone — including singles
Remember grade school, when everyone received a valentine? Widening the scope of this most romantic holiday could take the sting out for single people, writes Emma Teitel.
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I think it’s safe to say that no holiday has been looked forward to less in the history of holidays than Valentine’s Day, except maybe Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement — though I’m sure there are lovesick people out there who’d prefer fasting in a synagogue to eating their feelings in front of the TV on February 14.
Don’t believe me? V Day is apparently so distressing for some (especially those who suffer from “anuptaphobia,” the fear of being single forever) that restaurants have taken to offering food specials specifically designed not for smitten couples, but for jaded singles.
Hooters, for example, a dining establishment that doesn’t immediately jump to mind when you think about romantic love, now offers a promotion called “Shred ‘Em and Forget ‘Em,” whereby customers can bring a photo of an ex lover into the restaurant on Valentine’s Day and enlist a Hooters employee to help them “shred” said photo, after which they can redeem the tattered paper remains of their ex-beau for 10 boneless chicken wings. Unfortunately the event takes place at “participating locations” only, which is a shame, because I don’t think I can imagine anything sadder than a recently dumped, heartbroken person arriving at their local Hooters with a photo of an ex only to be told, “Sorry, that deal isn’t valid at this restaurant. No Buffalo chicken for you.” Wing-less and alone: It’s a fate I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Despite what you may have heard, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be synonymous with loneliness for people who haven’t found romantic love, because it doesn’t have to be synonymous with romantic love at all. The advantage of a Hallmark holiday with almost zero religious significance is that it’s open to re-imagination. It’s not exactly sacred.
At the risk of offending anti-PC types wary of “snowflakes,” I’d like to make the case that, in order to alleviate and maybe even put an end to the Valentine’s Day Blues, adults take an inclusive, grade-school approach to V Day, the kind of approach where everybody with a pulse gets a box of cinnamon hearts and a cheesy card. The kind of approach where you buy your wife a pair of sexy underwear, but you buy your best pal a pair of practical undies while you’re at it, and you take him out for dinner and toast to the power of friendship. Or if you’re so inclined, you take out a sibling, or a parent or a grandparent or the guy who shovels your driveway.
In other words, you take a page out of the book of Glad Day, an LGBTQ bookstore and restaurant in Toronto’s Church and Wellesley Village that is offering a prix fixe pasta dinner this V Day for anybody who comes through the door, regardless of their relationship status. From the bookstore’s Facebook page: “Want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in (a) space where you won’t be judged? Not only will Glad Day be free of homophobia and transphobia — we are also a great place for you to celebrate any configuration of love! So whether it’s romantic, familial or friendship love you are celebrating, whether you are a couple, a group or solo, whether your love is something that knows no bounds . . . we are here for you.”
There is no reason Valentine’s Day, as a rule, has to make unattached people feel inadequate and miserable. This is especially true if we shift the holiday’s theme from one of strictly romantic love to one of love in general, romantic and otherwise. Will this dilute the holiday’s spirit and encourage corporations to try to sell us even more useless V-Day-themed merchandise? Absolutely. But who cares. We’re already swimming in it anyway. I might understand the impulse to curse the existence of V Day or to ignore the holiday altogether if there was any chance that loathing it and pretending it didn’t exist might actually make it cease to exist. But it’s here to stay. The best way then, to make it bearable for all, and who knows, maybe even kind of fun, is to celebrate platonic bonds on February 14 and give everybody, no matter their relationship status, the perks of unconditional love — from cinnamon hearts to boneless Buffalo chicken wings.