Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

For me, Valentine's Day has turned into another one of those throw away holidays where commercialism has manufactured its own reality, one that I don't particularly care for.

A couple days ago I was actually in a Hallmark store and went by a flower shop while I was there. After walking around and looking at all the crap being thrust upon my eyes for purchase I ended up back in my car curled up in fetal position in the back seat. Why on earth do we spend our hard earned money on this stuff? Let's dissect the typical Valentine's Day gifts.

First there are the floral arrangements, typically a bunch of roses. The cost ranges anywhere from $12 for the cheap crap to $75 for the good stuff. Return on investment beyond the return love and sex is pretty poor. The flowers will die within a couple days and starting looking horrid just before that. There isn't much use for dead flowers unless you use them in some art project. Basically it's $75 down the drain for a moment of joy.

One company actively pushing their wares this year, Vermont Teddy Bear, ran commercials with "hot" chick fawning over some twelve inch high wad of sewn material shaped like a bear with customized accessories. I'm sure you have seen the commercial. You have the "hot" women jealous of the "hot" women who received a teddy bear with some card containing a message swiped from a fortune cookie. Then there are the "sissified" men, who obviously want copious amounts of anonymous, non-committing sex from the "hot" women fawning over the teddy bear. They cower in their work cubicles thinking "gosh, if I would have just bought a teddy bear for that secretary I'd be having sex with her in the back of my Camero parked out back by the dumpsters. The teddy bears start around $70. Again, other than temporary love (until you do something stupid like leave the toilet seat up or forget that one time to close the cupboard door) or sex, there is little return on investment as the teddy bear will eventually make it's way to either the garbage pail, a plastic tub in the crawl space, or worse yet – valuable space on a desk that would better used by a powered Ethernet hub or tape dispenser.

Then there is chocolate; the weakness of many women. Buying a specialized box of chocolates will run you from $4 (cheap Walmart crap) to $50 (chocolate so rich and powerful and delicious it actually turns your feces into chocolate for a 24 hour period after consumption). The problem with chocolate is it will make their ass fat (or fatter). For you investment you get about 45 days of post-chocolate, nothing looks good on me anymore, my ass is fat suffering to endure.  

For the somewhat cheap, there is always the assortment of balloons or other Valentine's Day specific party gifts. The problem with balloons is you must have something else in addition to the balloons to supplement the gift to the accepted cost/thoughtfulness level. The balloons can be attached to chocolate (see above), or a teddy bear. They can't be attached to flowers, that just looks tacky (even I know that). Balloons are a poor Valentine's Day investment as they take up valuable airspace and eventually die a slow and agonizing death; nobody want's that.

Jewelry is another acceptable Valentine's Day gift that is sure to get a reaction out of your sweetheart. The problem with jewelry is that it starts around $40 for the really cheap crap, averages around $120 for respectable pieces, but can shoot into the thousands of dollars. The other problem is jewelry is really hard to buy for a women unless she is there fawning over it. As a stereotypical "dumb" commercial male it's hard to stare at a display case while some gussied up librarian hovers around asking questions. No matter what you pick out, your sweetheart will find something wrong with it and upon returning to the store will find something else she wants in its place. Save the hassle, just go to the jewelry store on any day of the year other than Valentine's Day and let her pick something else. Promptly purchase that piece of jewelry for her while silently crying to yourself over the loss of about four months worth of hard work and wages. Unlike other gifts, jewelry should theoretically last forever and represent a moderate return on investment as long as they don't get lost behind the seat cushions of the couch or get pawned off years later in a garage sale for an eighth of the original cost.

What a mess. How did we get caught up in this stuff? Why is Valentine's Day a holiday? I don't get the day off from work. Does it memorialize a group of people that died for our country?

Every day should be a potential Valentine's Day. Instead of there being one specific (two if you count Valentine's Day fish-head eating twin, Sweetest's Day) day for spending a load of cash on a loved one, every day should potentially be a "Valentine's Day." I would much rather save my cash and surprise my sweetheart out of the blue some day in the middle of June or something. Maybe there is a day where I know it will be long and depressing at work and she will be surprised at lunch with a bouquet of flowers. More importantly I would rather be independent of some mass commercialized, manufactured holiday.

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