It’s Valentine’s Day–Again


It's Valentine's Day--Again

Each
year Valentine’s Day increasingly proves an interesting affair. The realm of
love and romance provides a well-stretched canvas for Cupid’s concerns – and a
whole lot more. A few years ago, Singapore transformed the February
14 holiday into a month long affair after former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
realized that his country’s population was imploding due to a birth dearth.
“Romancing Singapore”
was his government-sponsored matchmaking effort designed to re-invigorate the
love lives of Singaporeans.

 

Capitalizing
on the more superficial of Valentine’s Day traditions, the whole month of
February was chock-a-block with gimmicks to bring the sexes together in a
family way: rock climbing for couples, a love boat river race, and a vertical
marathon called “lovers’ challenge” in which couples ran up a 43-storey office
tower. Private sponsors made their own contributions: tango parties,
therapeutic massages, aphrodisiac clinics. A guy called “Doctor Love” launched
a midnight television series in which he conducted “bathtub massage tutorials.”
Even Pizza Hut offered a three-course “love meal” including a heart-shaped
pizza.

 

This
year China
is getting into the swing of all things Valentine – at least in the commercial
sense. From reports in recent years, the younger generation of Chinese have
high hopes for breaking out Western as they pursue astronomical wealth and high
fashion. Not surprisingly big business has leapfrogged love in preparation for
February 14. Chinese newspapers are reporting that florists, restaurateurs, and
jewelry-makers have been waiting a whole year for a chance to put a price tag
on “love.” In Beijing,
you can buy a platinum rose for near on $25,000. In Shanghai, you can buy a four-hour Valentine’s
Day love ride in a sedan through seamy streets for $12,000. The most
interesting trend in China
this year is the “matching nose job,” supposedly popular with the young and the
wealthy. China Daily reports couples
are undergoing plastic surgery together in order to walk away with
identical-looking noses once the bandages are removed and cuts heal up. Price
tag for a new nose: a relatively cheap $1,200.

 

In India,
hard-line Hindus are taking a very different approach to the winter holiday. Claiming
that this Western influence corrupts India's
youth with permissive values, they threatened
to beat up young couples who choose to celebrate Valentine's Day. A
spokesman for the Hindu Awakening Forum told the Associated Press: "We
earnestly request young lovers not to exchange flowers and cards on Valentine's
Day. Those who do not listen to us will
face our volunteers' wrath. Their faces will be blackened and they will be
beaten up.”

 

Some Muslim
groups have also objected to the growing popularity of Valentine's Day in India. Earlier
this month, for example, two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift shops
in Indian Kashmir, burning Valentine's Day cards and posters to protest what
they called “the imposition of Western values on Muslim youth.”

 

Angry
Tibetans are making a different kind of use of Valentine’s Day. This year they
have co-opted the holiday to protest Google.com’s recent controversial billion
dollar deal with China,
allowing Chinese-censored internet searches. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Pro-Tibetan
supporters are using Valentine's Day to officially launch a new site – noluv4google.com
– where Google users are encouraged to publicly disavow their love for the Big
G.”

 

Here
in the USA,
columnist “Dear Abby” discarded the warm fuzzies of the annual day of romance
in order to address the issue of domestic and dating violence. Men, kindly remember: do not assault the ones
you love — physically, sexually,
emotionally, economically or psychologically, especially on Valentine’s Day.
Thanks, Abigail, for the reminder.

 

There’s
more bad news. Apparently not everyone is happy on Valentine’s Day. According
to recent survey, half of all single twenty-somethings in the United Kingdom
will celebrate the chocolate box holiday alone. Lonely hearts take heart,
you’re not alone. Relationship expert Tracey Cox’s advice: “Make use of
time-saving technology to help you find love on the move. Internet dating is
fabulous.” Thanks for the insight (and free advertising), Tracey.

 

James
Baker, a counselor in Montgomery,
Alabama, warns that it is
psychologically important even for lonely heart singles to get out and have a
darn good time on Valentine’s Day, because, after all, this greeting card
holiday is just as much about you as it is about some lover somewhere.

 

Oh,
please!

 

From
China to Fargo, Valentine’s Day has been over-commercialized
to the point of parody: self-pampering spa specials, V-day facials, shopping
sprees, $1.59 million of chocolates that won’t be consumed. Did I mention
heart-shaped pizzas?

 

The
yelp of superficial kitsch has reached such a fever pitch it has spawned a
relatively new, and increasingly profitable, “Anti-Valentine’s Day” industry.
The fact that authentic human relationships (of any kind) in contemporary
society are so elusive contributes to the jaded messages being peddled these
days.

 

Have
you seen the bumper sticker and T-shirt slogans? Cafépress.com, the leading
personalized product merchandiser on the web sponsored an Anti-Valentine’s Day
design contest this month. Some of the more popular slogans:

 

At least my dog loves me

No, it wasn’t Cupid – just another fat, flying baby
with a bow and arrow

Forget the wedding, I just want the ring

If I want to feel love, I’ll eat chocolate

My love for you is stronger than any restraining
order

Love is a four letter word

I’d rather be at band camp

Emotionally unavailable

You’re much cuter online

If you love me, you’ll drop the charges

 

Ooh,
can’t you just feel the bad vibes right through your flatscreen monitor?

 

If
I were a woman or a gushy-side guy, I’d be tempted to end this column with one
of those over-obvious pieces of advice that would barely have value on a bumper
sticker (“Just say I love you” or “Today’s the perfect day to propose”). Alas,
I’m neither, and what I have to say in conclusion is ridiculously simple:
Relax, it’s Valentine’s Day. Hang on to your wallet and say a prayer for your
future spouse – should that be God’s lot for ye. Valentine’s Day really means
it’s just five more weeks ‘til Spring.






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