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Category: Women Date: 13 Feb 00

I was thinking of St Valentine while I drove to the card shop. About how according to legend, in the third century, in Rome, this priest died for love. (I donít mean the kind of sick love where people are so insecure and fixated that they kill themselves and everyone around them over unrequited love).


Valentine landed in jail and was put to death because he was discovered performing marriages for young lovers in secret at a time when Emperor Claudius 11, had outlawed marriage for young single men. The Emperor had decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families but Valentine defied the emperor for young lovers.


Saint Valentine may have had a soft heart (some say he fell in love with his jailerís daughter and actually sent her a letter which he signed ďfrom your ValentineĒ) but I think he would have had double vision, wanted to go colour blind if his eyes would have been assaulted as mine were, by rows of red tacky hearts on cards, cushions, chocolate in his name.


You mean after all this time, we still havenít learned to express ourselves as men and women without the use of these props? Love, like everything, has been reduced to the lowest common denominator. February 14 is love day. On this day you do cliched things like send the person with whom you are currently having carnal knowledge (or trying to) a dozen red roses which resemble plastic flowers and have only the faintest of perfume; chocolate with yucky soft centres; a booking at a restaurant with other highly self conscious couples sitting together at candle lit tables, the women looking at other womenís dresses and the men looking at other women. Everyone aping an idea of commercial love day. And, because the situation is so artificial, not being able to be themselves.


And the rest of the year, relations between men and women are a tangled mess. There is a growing trend of unhappiness of working women, especially in the 30-40 age group as supported by rising divorce statistics worldwide. We are the children of the sexual and intellectual revolution. We were born with the vote and a right to University education but there was spillage once all the old rules were broken. Canít have it all girls.


Many married 30-somethings are either bored, obsessed with their children because their husbands ignore them using their careers as an excuse, wanting to have affairs, (or having them) restless, or depressed, wanting out, but not knowing how, or giving up or worst of all, just there.


Single women in their late 30s, having done the power career thing with great zeal, have suddenly stopped in their tracks and decided they want children before the biological clock stops ticking altogether, so they are desperate for commitment and if not that, an appointment with the sperm bank. And the more desperate they are, (this being part of the bitter irony of the male-female courtship,) the more scarce men become.


Divorced men, according to a study carried out in the UK are the worst off. Men are creatures of habit, and once married like to stay that way. In fact, they live longer if they are married while women shorten their lifespan by more then five years if they stay married (so the study said).


Now single men, and 30-something successful men, says the study, are the best off. For February 14, 2000 I wish for women the gift, not of roses that havenít had the chance to bloom, but the attitude of a single 30-something man for a day.

Man for a day rules

Donít care if you donít get flowers.

Forget to order one for your partner. Itís expected of you not to remember till the last minute.

Do not agonise over what to wear for 40 minutes. Pick up whatever is clean and matches. It all looks good.

Only see your good points. Pretend the plump thighs, the varicose veins, the lines, the grey hair donít exist. Men see James Bond in the mirror. See Cindy Crawford. Be vain, anyhow. Develop an enormous manlike ego that doesnít depend on your appearance.

Admire randomly every good looking man that passes without wondering if he is a person with depth or seeing yourself in a wedding dress with him.

Compartmentalise. At work, think of work not of the man of the day. No man is capable of being (or wants the burden of) being everything to you. Male A for intelligent conversation. Male B for great looks and body. Male C for fun and laughter. Male D for being reliable, etc...

Put yourself first. Build an autonomous passionate inner core thatís all about YOU: work, friends, talents, exploration, that has nothing to do with the man you love.

Donít constantly think of the man youíre in love with. Get a life. While lunching, munch. While driving, donít drool over sentimental songs. While watching TV, watch TV. Donít mope.

Think of St Valentine. He was heroic. He was brave. He was willing to die so others could love. When you meet a man who is willing to make grand gestures, is romantic, puts his money where his mouth is, thinks itís strong to be gentle, is unafraid of commitment, is not into being macho stereotype, thinks of others, remember, he was put to death in the third century.

But donít buy the red heart cliches or ideals. Men are (despite what they say) only human and would be relieved if you stopped expecting so much from them. Fall in love with a man who is, above all, a friend, with whom you can laugh, and who will come through for you when it really counts. Saint Valentine would approve of that.


Happy Valentines Day!

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur