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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.