Valentine’s Day. It’s everywhere, it creeps into conversations, it dominates TV, shopping centres. It also inspires Google searches like this
Yes, it’s such a central part of our culture that people think it could be a public holiday. But this is not a post going into the history of Valentine’s Day, whether he is a Saint, all that we already know (except – Valentinus means worthy, strong, powerful, which brings with a whole lot of ideas of what Valentine’s Day actually means in terms of shows of power).
I have had a strong dislike of Valentine’s Day for most of my life. I remember it vividly as a time when I never received a Valentine’s Day rose / message at high school. Then later, I remember the pressure from society that it was the socially expected time to shower my first wife with gifts / chocolates / flowers / booking at an expensive restaurant. So then all the flower sellers, chocolate manufacturers, courier companies, restaurants all benefit as people (usually men) attempt to outdo each other with their expensive, sanctioned public shows of affection. As we were pretty much on a financial abyss throughout our marriage, we just ignored the whole farrago.
My feeling then was the same as it is now. This madness needs to stop. Apart from anything else, it emphasises to all of those without a “Valentine” that they are alone. The secret Valentine thing is also weird and vaguely creepy.
So, this is the proposal – people should celebrate Trollentines Day. Find a loved one and give her / him a present that is guaranteed to drive them up the wall – in a fun way. Then, sling the money you save to Sweetheart Day – an initiative designed to research children’ heart disease.
Fortunately, my second wife, Claire, is also as unimpressed by the Corporate Affection Time as I, so we have started this tradition. That is, we buy for each other the most inappropriate present we can dream up for each other. The present we know the other person will never want or use. As in, deliberately trolling each other (teasing, provoking, whatever else you want to call this in an age where the term “troll” is used indiscriminately by various media outlets). Last year, Claire bought me a DVD copy of 20,000 Days On Earth, the self indulgent Nick Cave project (though for me, saying “self indulgent” and “Nick Cave” is just tautology). I bought her a Kardashian leopard print bag. Pretty much everything Claire is not.
This year, we are pushing out the concept to be playing and showing things that the other person really doesn’t like. I’m tossing up the possibility of putting on some back issues of the Matty Johns Show, playing Nickelback or reading out excerpts of the future autobiography of Barnaby Joyce, My Life with Alpacas (though, that might be entertaining). For Claire, that could mean any number of things – though having us both drink VB would be trolling herself, which is not part of the deal. We are also going to eat lunch at a restaurant we would not normally consider the ideal venue for a romantic Valentine’s Day meal. One idea for us was the restaurant that helps define what actually is Western Sydney
Or maybe Rashay’s family restaurant, that uniquely Western Sydney franchise (with which we can do a similar line to the Red Rooster line), where every steak meal is served with the same mushroom sauce. Great for families (especially ones that like mushroom sauce), but not a place one would normally associate with Valentine’s.
Trollentines Day is tricky to do, to an extent. You need to know exactly what irritates your partner, but not in a serious way, but more in a light hearted way. So, TV, movies, music and the like. It’s actually also surprisingly romantic – a good troll means you really need to know your partner. (And in our case, the restaurant location has had to be a mutually agreed thing.)
But honestly, the day can be whatever you make of it – it’s meant to be a bit of fun, highlighting just how absurd it is that society believes that Romance has to occur on an appointed time and with the appropriate spending of money.