TT: Will You Be My Valentine?

Looking for the Wednesday Wandering?  Just page back one and take a look at what one writer (me!) thinks writers owe those who support or rather weird way of viewing the world.  Then come back and join me and Alan as we take a look at Valentine’s Day.  Oh…  And there’s a special Valentine for you at the end!

JANE: Happy Valentine’s Day, Alan!  Do you and Robin celebrate?

Valentine Glow

Valentine Glow

ALAN: No we don’t. We pay more attention to birthdays and Christmas than we do to Valentine’s Day.

JANE: When Jim and I started dating, he was the perfect traditional swain – covering the check if we ate out, holding doors for me, and all the rest.

ALAN: Sorry, but can I just interrupt you there?

JANE: Absolutely!

ALAN:  I once had a girl friend who was a fairly militant feminist; she insisted on equality in the relationship and point-blank refused to let me do any of those things. I was perfectly happy with that. In many ways I found it quite refreshing. But, for my own amusement, whenever we walked down the street I always made a point of walking on the outside so that my sword arm was free to protect her from footpads and thieves. I never made an issue of it or mentioned it in conversation, and in all the time we were together, she never, ever noticed I was doing it. I found that hugely entertaining.

JANE: Honestly, it’s never bothered me to have a door held for me as long as the person doing it doesn’t give the impression that he figures I’m too stupid to figure out how a door works (or how to pull out my own chair).  I think it’s the assumption that women were too physically and mentally fragile to handle these little jobs that was being protested, rather than the action itself.

Jim always walks around whatever vehicle we’re driving and opens my door for me.  I’ve had women stop and sigh in admiration.

That said, back to romance…

Valentine’s Day came around fairly early when Jim and I were building our relationship.   I immediately insisted on staking it out for my own, since he was always so nice to me.  To this day (and we’re celebrating our seventeenth Valentine’s Day this year),  I take him to dinner (not usually on the day, since the restaurants are insanely crowded) and buy him a present.  Jim usually buys me a box of dark chocolate with nuts from a nice place in Santa Fe.  This is a true gift because he lets me eat all of it.

ALAN: Actually I’d be really pleased if you ate all of it, too. Dark chocolate with nuts was how I first discovered that I was allergic to nuts. Trust me – anaphylactic shock is not pleasant!

JANE: I believe you!  Now, I suspect that you and Robin are less than typical.  What would a typical Valentine’s Day celebration be there?

ALAN: The main tradition is secrecy – the recipient of a Valentine’s Day gift is not supposed to know who it came from. Secret admirers are the order of the day. Therefore, those poor people who have no admirers at all can always save face by sending themselves an anonymous Valentine gift so that they can show it to their friends and boast about how loved they are. Nobody will ever be any the wiser!

JANE: That reminds me of what I’ve heard of the Japanese “White Day” celebrations.  Girls give guys chocolate.  In one manga I quite enjoyed (Love Hina), the main male character is a romantic loser who has become an expert candy maker because he’s had to make him his own “White Day” gift for so many years.

ALAN: Perhaps Jim, and all the girls in Japan, should dive into the pages of your novel Thirteen Orphans and visit “Your Chocolatier” where they can talk to Albert Yu and buy the perfect chocolate for the perfect occasion.

JANE: Wouldn’t that be cool?  That place came to me in a dream and I can still smell the aroma.

Valentine’s Day rituals are almost the opposite here – especially with established couple or couples that would like to be.  Valentine’s Day becomes a sort of “coup counting” event for some people.  I’ve known women who judge their beaus very strictly on how they attend to their Valentine’s Day duties.  Talk about sexist!  Very few of this type bother to do much for their guy.

When I was a kid, Valentine’s cards were given anonymously.  There would be a big box in the front of the classroom, usually covered with pink paper and hearts.  Kids would drop their cards in there and then the teacher would play post-mistress.  Again, there was that sense of popularity being judged.  I wasn’t ever popular and didn’t get many cards – and those usually from the nice kids who gave cards to everyone.

These days, I understand, kids are required to give cards to every other kid so no one ends up with hurt feelings, but I bet there are still ways the popular kids get shown they’re extra-special.

ALAN: Actually I suspect that the bullies and sociopaths will just use it as one more way to humiliate their victims with cruel and cutting remarks. Anonymity in the classroom encourages that kind of thing. Or maybe I’m just a cynic.

JANE: Be a cynic on any other day…  But not today!  Today we’re all in love. <grin>

On a less sappy note, I’d love to hear about other Valentine’s celebrations…  Any takers?

Oh, and I promised you a Valentine!  The Thursday Tangents are available as a free e-book — courtesy of Alan’s hard labor.  You can download them from


5 Responses to “TT: Will You Be My Valentine?”

  1. Heteromeles Says:

    Thanks Alan!

    As for the kid’s valentines, I learned that at one well-off local preschool, the giving of cards becomes a competition among the mothers to demonstrate who the best mom was, based on what they gave away. It happens at all the celebrations. Apparently, birthdays at that school are quite fraught, because so much depends on who is invited, who isn’t, and what kinds of foods and party favors are provided. Somehow they’ve made it both Victorian and postmodern at the same time. The women expect themselves to be supermoms at the same time they hold down demanding careers and look fabulous. Isn’t ambition fun?

  2. Susan J. Bannister Says:

    Remembering your mother, Barbara, and the days of exchanging valentines with other students…hope she is doing great….please tell her I said Happy Valentines Day Jane. And to you and your hubby.

  3. janelindskold Says:

    We had a lovely Valentine’s Day. I hope all of you did, too.

  4. Paul Says:

    That walking on the outside has modern-day applications, too, especially in slushy or rainy weather when cars splash people on sidewalks and you shield your companion. I tend to hold doors for women and have noticed, when it’s a double door entrance or exit, most will turn around and hold the next door for me. But I will often hold a door for a male, too, if we get to it at about the same time. I guess ardent feminists used to get upset, but that trend seems to have largely passed here (a small town in western Virginia).

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