“Would you be free to meet up some time later this week?”
I click to my Google Calendar tab, scan over the week and quickly type back, “How does Thursday night sound?” I have no plans for that evening, and I figure it’ll be a great time to schedule a casual meeting.
Unfortunately, meetings usually involve more than one person, and apparently I’ve made a terrific blunder.
For those of you who haven’t yet recognized my gaffe, this Thursday is Valentine’s Day. And by the unspoken rules that guide us through the social labyrinth that is college, I should be spending that day either canoodling with a romantic interest, commiserating with single friends or celebrating rebellion against all Hallmark holidays. Canoodling, commiserating or celebrating. There is no fourth option; there is no room for arbitrary meetings that don’t acknowledge the significance of Feb. 14.
And what is it about the 14th day of the second month each year that floods shops, restaurants and our newsfeeds with infinite references to all things pink and romantic? Legends abound referencing Pagan traditions, Christian martyrology and Shakespearean literature — but none of these things should dictate when we do or don’t celebrate our feelings. Whether we support or denounce it, why do we bother giving in to the holiday at all?
If you’re in a relationship of any sort, you most likely have better dates to celebrate: birthdays, anniversaries or perhaps the first time you locked eyes across the Diag? Instead of giving in to the Valentine’s hype, it’d be far more meaningful to do special things on some other, more personally significant day. And if you’re of the party who prefers to celebrate Single’s Awareness Day — your relationship status probably won’t change in the vicinity of Feb. 14, so why choose to acknowledge it on this day specifically? The need to do something in honor of one’s relationship status seems far too arbitrary.
But perhaps all of this has been said too often. Increasingly, the new trend is to shun such traditions altogether and rebel against the holiday. But choosing to not wear red, to not go out to a nice dinner, to not wish your friends a nice holiday, is still acknowledging that something’s happening on Feb. 14 and you just don’t want to be a part of it.
Whether you’re canoodling, commiserating or celebrating, what difference does the date make? Whatever your choice may be, you can do this on any other day of the year too. And, likewise, things like meetings shouldn’t need to be rescheduled just because it’s Feb. 14. Yes, some people call this Valentine’s Day; some people call it Single’s Awareness Day; but some people, like me, think it shouldn’t make a difference in the way we lead our lives, one way or another.
So where will I be this Thursday? Maybe you’ll spot me on a date at a fancy restaurant. Or maybe you’ll find me getting late-night dessert with my roommate. Maybe, like last year, you’ll discover that I’m watching a decidedly un-romantic movie (read: American Pie) with a decidedly single friend. And maybe, I’ll be holed up in the stacks all alone, studying for my upcoming midterms.
This Thursday, it doesn’t really matter where I am or who I’m with. It doesn’t matter whether I’m single or taken, whether I’m wearing red or black, whether I’m enjoying gifted chocolates or a cheap midnight burrito — at least, not more than it would any other day of the year.
If none of these things matter to you, great. Feb. 14 is just another day of the year. So let there be no Valentine’s Day. And if they do matter, that’s fine too. Feb. 14 is just another day of the year, so let every day be Valentine’s Day.
Hema Karunakaram can be reached at email@example.com.