If Charlie Brown has his Great Pumpkin, I have my Valentine Rabbit.
Annually on the lustful February V-day, the Rabbit, fluff-relative to the Tooth Fairy & Co., descends to my parents’ house and bestows enigmatic heart-shaped stickers upon plates and tumblers. Some years: holographic stickers; some: tastefully-red opaque.
Why I know he’s a bunny, how I know he’s a dude instead of a damosel, and when the bunny started coming, I really can’t say. But in some matters, one must have faith.
And the Bunny’s coming this year, too—
Her porcelain face – delicate, but unbreakable – spoke of Siberian winters. On frigid Petersburg nights, she held a cream bed sheet over her nipples, the color of watered-down wine. I called her Olyushka after reading Pushkin, Olga Alexandrovna Ivanova in mock formality, and Olga from the Volga in mythical recounting. Though her accent flared distinctly Muscovite, she came from Vladivostok, where her family still kept a dacha. When we met on Nevsky Avenue in Peter for the first time, I suggested we go for blini and caviar. I felt the hot breath of destiny on my neck, and we spent months together at the gymnasium. But love can only last so long. And so it came to pass, as the canals of the Venice of the North froze, I would bring her to my boudoir on February 14 for our last night together – with Russia never so dark, my soul never so black.
Valentine’s Day – as the Christian/Hallmark holiday we know it as today – actually evolved from the Roman Purification festivals of Parentalia and Feralia, which occurred from around February 13-18. Days two and three of the festival, Lupercalia, involved a tradition where unmarried young men drew by lot the names of (ostensibly) willing unmarried young women from an urn. These women became their sexual partners for the rest of year, a union that sometimes resulted in marriage. Eventually these practices were considered heathen, outlawing was attempted and it was all repackaged in the name of that guy Valentine who came along and tried to marry young Christians,
But I find myself strangely attracted to the pagan tradition because it seems so wonderfully democratic and possibly communist. I guess it sucks if you get the ugly girl or the ugly guy. But at least it’s all luck of the draw and anyone who wants to can have a Valentine. I say bring it back. And let’s sacrifice a goat while we’re at it.
There are a lot of Valentine’s Day nightmare stories out there, but no one has ever had it worse than our nation’s twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt. On February 14, 1884, the then New York state assemblyman returned to his family home in Manhattan to attend to his lovely young wife of four years, Alice, who only two days earlier had given birth to the couple’s first child. Upon arrival, TR was greeted by his brother, who told him that that a curse had fallen over his house. Not only was TR’s wife suffering from Bright’s disease, but his mother had contracted typhoid fever. Rather than spending Valentine’s Day making plans to celebrate his marriage and the birth of his new child, Roosevelt spent the day running back and forth between sick beds. Both his wife and his mother died in the same house on Saint Valentine’s Day, 1884. Makes you wonder what he did with all the chocolate.
I’ve never really had a great Valentine’s Day. Being single isn’t really the issue; it’s just being in a very bad mood because a lot of others are in such a good one. So I’ll pick my absolute worst, which would be 2004, when I decided to skip the Freshman formal because I didn’t have a date, and got more and more depressed over the course of the night, until I was crying on the mantle at Cottage as heavily as I did during “Brokeback.” I think people should be more romantic all the time – I’m a romantic myself – so that they didn’t force all of it into one day that alienates everyone else. But until that happens, I will hate Valentine’s Day.
For the last few years, my ex-girlfriends have always broken up with me around Christmas. This is to say, I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day with anyone. But then again, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, I haven’t been single long enough to feel lonely when I see all the happy couples. Valentine’s Day has meant nothing to me in the truest sense. I don’t care, not out of bitterness, but out of pure apathy and indifference. I guess I’m glad I save money, but that realization is a pleasant surprise, and not way of reassuring myself in my loneliness.
People lose sight of the fact that Valentine’s Day can mean absolutely nothing to someone. Just because we don’t have anybody to celebrate this holiday with, doesn’t mean we’re all lonely people who drink ourselves to a stupor throughout the night, lamenting at our pitiful existence, which is most certainly doomed to dying alone. Some of us will go to class, get a late meal, watch House, waste time on the Internet, and go to sleep without having done any work. Just like any other day.