Is there an antidote to Valentine’s Day? Scientists, I hear, are working on it, but card-makers, chocolate-manufacturers and jewellery-sellers keep getting in the way. Last year someone suggested a "Thoughtless Day" where you ignored your loved one, didn’t buy her or him chocolates and came home late at night having forgotten you were meant to have had dinner together. And clashed a couple of cymbals regularly so no one could sleep.
The idea didn’t catch on; and later when the body of this unromantic man was found floating on a river with what looked like Cupid’s arrow through his heart, everybody said he deserved it.
You don’t speak ill of Valentine’s Day, just as you don’t of Christmas or Diwali or Secretary’s Day. But what was meant to be a private celebration between a couple in love has gone public and involves strange pairings: teachers and students, parents and children, CEOs and staff, carpenters and painters, sportsmen and fans, prisoners and guards, computer programmers and their computers. Love is crazy.
But this kind of love is beyond crazy. To quote the philosopher Tina Turner, What’s love got to do with it?
For some years now, I have been receiving messages saying "Happy Valentine’s Day" from strangers: insurance agents, the guy I bought my spectacles from, my courier service, the guy who cuts my hair. Every year I explain to them that I am not romantically inclined in their direction; every year they think I am joking. I guess Gresham’s Law operates in such things too.
Gresham’s Law, for those who skipped that chapter in school, states simply that "bad money drives out the good". For our purposes here, it suggests that ridiculous practices drive out the sensible ones. It has become so embarrassing that many otherwise romantic couples do not even acknowledge Valentine’s Day. They often switch their cell phones off till the storm passes, and insurance agents go back to trying to sell insurance and barbers return to their scissors.
The International Day of Love can be, like love itself, quite confusing. Does the boss expect to be wished Happy Valentine’s Day, and will he be disappointed if I don’t wish him? Will it affect my annual appraisal? Should I tell my girlfriend she is not the only one, but shares my love with my boss, the ever smiling cashier at the supermarket, the guy who overcharged me for fixing my car?
Valentine’s Day is a beautiful day – for greeting card makers who are looking at the next big thing. Like the International Greeting Card Day. It is easy to build a fake tradition around anything. After all, Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with St Valentine. But that’s another story.
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