On Valentine's day a couple of years ago I awoke to find a neighbour had left me a plastic red rose under my windscreen wiper on the car and a note scrawled in felt-tip pen saying 'It may be plastic but at least it will last forever' followed by 'call me' and his number.
Mortified (he was a nice guy but a) twice my age and b) my neighbour so this just felt creepy) I threw the note away* and tried my hardest to avoid all forms of contact with him. Not my most grown up response perhaps but about all I could muster at the time.
I'm not sure I've ever been swept off my feet on Valentine's to be honest. The mad scientist and I had a lovely time last year - though again not without incident. We'd agreed to have 'a quick beer' after work with some colleagues of mine. This had (perhaps inevitably) snowballed into 'a few beers' which in turn meant we had to push our dinner reservation out by an hour or so. All was merrily in hand however as we skipped home to get ready to go out for the evening.
Shaving my legs at this time was probably not the wisest of things. I did think that I'd nicked myself slightly when all the water running down the plughole turned red but bunged the pre-requisite bit of loo-roll onto my ankle and skipped off to my room. I carried on getting ready thinking little of it until 5 minutes later I had a panic-stricken boyfriend hammering on the door to check I wasn't hemorrhaging to death as apparently the bathroom looked like I'd had a nasty run in with Norman Bates.
I'm not sure I entirely pulled off my 'killer' outfit that evening, hobbling down the hill in heels I could barely walk in. It turns out the bloodied and bandaged ankle is not really compatible with the intended sensuality of sheer stockings, but still we had a lovely night, if more fun and funny than hollywood high romance...
Now the thing is I'm totally down with the cool kids and all the usual arguments against Valentine's day - it's a commercialised faux 'event' that has been hijacked by hallmark and the chocolate/champagne and flower companies. It's unnecessary - we don't need a 'day' to say 'I love you' (feel the thunderous shudder of all businesses engaged in extracting money from you for weddings at this statement). It causes undue stress and anxiety, accentuating loneliness and the stigmatism of being single or being in an unhappy relationship. It emphasises a homogenised version of what is socially acceptable - that we course through life a la Noah's Ark in male/female pairs, having sproglets and continuing the promulgation of the human race (to the eventual destruction of this beautiful blue planet....).
I hear ya. I'm all there. And yet. I stumbled across a Valentine's card that my dad wrote to my mum after more than 25 years of marriage. He had signed off "I never want to be without you, our never ending love affair, with all my love, your sweetheart...". Guess what? Yeah, all my cynicism melted. Pathetic huh?!
But I do think it's possible to skip or navigate the commercialism of Valentine's day. In my family we've long since had a tradition that Valentine's is about more than romantic love - it's perfectly normal for us to send cards or give each other flowers simply because it's nice to do something nice for each other. So why not tell your best friend you love them and write them a haiku to celebrate (being careful not to create your own Cameron Diaz-esque confused rom-com love triangle of course)? Or do something nice for yourself. Or take a bucket down to the Somerset levels and try to shift the flood....
My other advice is - avoid razors after consuming alcohol. For some reason they don't include that as a warning on the back of the packet.
(*I'll confess, I did regret throwing his number away when, a few weeks later, he and his son threw a 72 hour house party complete with poptastic anthems being played on repeat at high volume whilst I tried in vain to use the weekend as a quiet retreat from the madness of the working week.)