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Monday, February 14, 2005
A trip in the V-Day wayback machine
I think it's safe to say that roughly 98% of world's population detests Valentine's Day. If you're currently shacked up with someone you probably spent the day re-confirming your love by shelling out a stack of cash for worthless gifts and/or an overpriced dinner. If you're on the receiving end, you spent the day watching your significant other blow the whole holiday by half-heatedly adhering to annual traditions. If you're alone on this most joyous holiday, your head is probably sitting in a microwave as I type these words.
I'm a member of the majority but not for the usual reasons. Sure, I'm single and, sure, I'm stuck at work tonight but my own V-Day loathing stems from something else entirely: good ol' childhood trauma.
If you spent any part of your youth in a PPS elementary school prior to '89, you're no doubt familiar with its V-Day celebrations. If you didn't grow up in Portland, allow me explain this twisted once (possibly still) annual tradition.
Every year, around February 7th, our homeroom teacher hauled in two bazooka-sized rolls of construction paper. With plastic scissors in hand, we would spend the following afternoon building paper mailboxes and gluing paper hearts to the side. After hours of cruel labor, the teacher arranged them in alphabetical order along the walls and gave us the following homework assignment: prepare 28 Valentines for each of our classmates.
Now a few kids really got into this whole thing. They ran home and no doubt spent the following week...watching their mom make homemade Valentines covered in sparkles and stickers with candy hearts tapped to them. Most of us just made our begrudging parents drive out to Fred Meyers to pick up a box of cards. They were incredibly cheap, stamped with the latest Nintendo or Saturday character but accompanied by the same lame puns from last year's sets.
Even as early as 1st grade I had a problem with all of this. Wasn't Valentines Day for old people, like, over the age of 13? Furthermore, why did I have to give a card, even one that cost 3 cents, to the kid that made a daily game of tossing my super-cool Lamborghini Trapper Keeper in the trash? I loved that jerk about as much as a pile of steaming Smurf crap.
Worse yet, we had to give Valentine's cards to ALL of our classmates of BOTH sexes. Still reluctant, I saved all the good cards for those that didn't run rampant with my personal property. Slappy McTrapertrash? There was no way he was going to get a coveted Mario card. His lame ass was getting a slightly torn King Koopa.
By grade three this annual tradition became even more perverse for obvious reasons. Despite the rules, many of us stopped giving cards to the same sex. Others shelled out $3 bucks for proper Valentines for their not-so secret crushes. I remember girls crying and storming out of the room when they didn't receive a Hallmark card. Despite all the budding hormones and pre-teen soap opera theatrics, this bizarre tradition continued through the fifth grade. Fortunately, by this time, I found my own solution to this school-sponsored, state-mandated day of sadism. I feigned the flu every February 14th and spent the day at home watching "Gilligan's Island" and "Remote Control." The next day, I went into class, grabbed my box, tossed out the cards and ate all the candy.
Valentine's Day still sucks, especially in comparison to St. Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July. Here's a link.
Also, here's Richard Roeper's take on the holiday.