The war on Valentine's Day

Okay, everyone, Valentine's Day is over. It is safe to come out again.

Restaurants, florists and people selling trinkets that are useless in an apocalypse (jewellery, soft toys, printed embossed paper) will no longer be out there trying to convince you that if you don't hand over all your money this very instant, either your significant other will just assume you have lost all the love in your heart or you are some sort of loser who does not have a significant other to cast aspersions about your heart.

And now that the coast is clear again, we need to start planning early for an assault on next year's Valentine's Day. Yes, you heard me right.

For far too long, we have taken a pacifist attitude to this assault that is Valentine's Day.

I say enough, no longer shall we retreat to our bunker, it is time to take a stand. I am declaring war on Valentine's Day.

Now, I know that there are a lot of you out there who think that Valentine's Day isn't so bad after all. What's wrong with a day set aside to celebrate love and romance? So what if I pay a little bit more for flowers and dinner? Isn't it worth it to show my significant other how much he or she means to me?

Let me say that I acknowledge that your opinion is valid and reasonable.

You are all the enemy. In times of war, there is no room for sentimentality.

Also, I argue that the people who celebrate truly for the sake of their love for each other are among a vanishingly small minority. Consider these real examples of Valentine's Day behaviour.

Buying a big bouquet of roses two weeks in advance and placing it in a freezer, and then thawing it on Valentine's Day.

Buying a big bouquet of roses two weeks in advance and presenting it as an "early Valentine's Day gift" because Chinese New Year leftovers have occupied all the space in the fridge.

Buying a gigantic bouquet of roses and having it delivered to the office and then later showing up empty-handed on the date.

Writing a heartfelt emotional love letter expressing all your deepest most personal devotion to your partner and then, instead of putting it in an envelope for him or her to cherish privately all the days of his/her life, slap it on your Facebook wall while tagging your partner. After all, nothing says romance like an open letter.

What all this shows us is that the day has nearly nothing to do with the love between two people. It's about trying to dress up your own relationship in the hope that other people will be jealous. It's a competitive sport now, sort of like the Winter Olympics, but with working toilets.

Hence, it is time to put a stop to all this. Of course, I am by no means a pioneer of this war on Valentine's Day.

For instance, the Selangor Islamic authorities went on a drive this year to remind Muslim youth not to celebrate the occasion. A monk in Thailand also encouraged teenagers to be mindful when expressing love on Valentine's Day, and by "mindful", he means… I think you all know what he means.

In the United States, an entrepreneurial lawyer is holding his second annual Valentine's Day free divorce contest. All you have to do is to submit your case to him, and if you have the most compelling reason for wanting the divorce, he will settle the paperwork for you for free.

While this is a start, I believe we can do better. Hence, I am here to suggest some broad strategies on how to put a dampener on Valentine's Day.

1. Enhanced security measures

Security is one of those super powerful things that no one can put up a meaningful argument against, so that makes it the perfect weapon for pouring cold water on romance.

To guard against terrorist strikes, vigilant companies should hire security staff to check all floral bouquets and boxes of chocolates being delivered to offices.

In no time, many will inevitably decide that this is a silly waste of resources and ban floral and chocolate deliveries on and around Valentine's Day. Everyone will be asked to please send floral bouquets to homes instead.

This will put an end to Valentine's Day delivery gifts.

2. Use passive-aggressive parental pressure

Last week, when Chap Goh Mei, the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year season, coincided with Valentine's Day, many Chinese couples were in a dilemma - whether to have dinner with their families or with their girlfriends and boyfriends. In such situations, parental pressure tends to beat the commercial holiday.

Boy: "Mum, I'm going out with Vicky tomorrow for dinner, okay? It's Valentine's Day. Maybe we can do a family lunch."

Mum: "Suuuureee, do what you want. I know Vicky is very important to you."

Boy: "Hello, Vicky. My mum says cannot. I need to have family dinner."

Of course, we cannot hope to have Chap Goh Mei coincide with Valentine's Day every year. So I am proposing a new national holiday like "Have Dinner with Family Day" that would land on Feb 14. That should do the trick.

If we take these common sense steps, we can start the slow healing process of fixing all the damage Valentine's Day inflicts every year.

We would probably still be as grumpy on Feb 14 given the inconvenience of enhanced security measures and the epic passive-aggressive parental pressure, but at least we would all be unhappy together.


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