Happy Valentine’s Day, darling readers. You look wonderful, by the way. Did you do something new with your hair? Oh, you washed it. Well it’s working for you, keep it up!
Last year I received my first ever Valentine’s card that wasn’t from my father or a corporation wooing me as “Dear potential money-spender”, so forgive me for looking smug. After a shaky 23-year start, I’m pretty much on a Valentine’s roll. I’ve even taken the day off work to cook lamb shanks, the slowest of all food, and bought a dress with hearts all over it. Later I might put on some Sade and have a bath. Of course I haven’t had a bath since 2006, but if you recline dreamily in a shower, you fall over.
The Valentine’s Day before last was a disaster, of course. “But I didn’t even know you liked flowers,” he said earnestly while I wrestled with my tears outside the Odeon. “EVERYBODY likes flowers,” I spat back. “They’re flowers. That’s like, not liking a sunset. Or a kitten in a watering can. Or Judi Dench.”
“Do you want a kitten in a watering can?” he replied. “Is that what I’m supposed to have bought you?”
And that was how I discovered that I am not too cool for Valentine’s Day. Many of us try, of course, but few truly have the steely, ice-hearted resolve needed to look a day specially devoted to love and affection and snogging and being told you’re lovely right in the face and say, “Pffft. Lame.” Commercialised crap it might be, but so are Cadbury’s crème eggs and don’t try telling me you’ve never looked into their yellow and white fondant hearts and briefly thought, “this is true happiness.”
There was the Valentine’s Day at uni where I swore I was happy doing nothing, then baked a chocolate cake the size of my head and wept into my Collected Works of Chaucer alone at the kitchen table for three hours. There was the one where the object of my crush asked me out, only for us to end up eating marmalade sandwiches and playing Monopoly with his sister.
And then there were all the others; the juvenile years of hoping to find a pink envelope snuck into my desk or classroom tray (I never did, which is fine because looking back on it, I was… well, a child) followed by the four-year tumbleweed of high school, during which our likeliest male Valentine was the caretaker’s son, to whom we had never spoken and about whom we, naturally, made up a two-verse song.
But all along the way I must have known that at some point I’d get to make lamb shanks for a non-imaginary man, while wearing a dress with hearts all over it. Now I’m crossing my fingers for a sunset, a kitten in a watering can, Judi Dench or all of the above - but flowers will do.