At some point in the relationship, every man I’ve ever gone out with has looked at me sadly and concluded “You aren’t very romantic, are you?”
I am not. I am loving and funny and loyal. But romance has never been my thing.
Hearts and flowers? Strolling hand-in-hand? Candle lit dinners for two?
Love at first sight? Not for me.
I’ve always been this way.
When the other little girls were drawing pictures of bridal gowns in their school notebooks and dreaming about Mr. Right, my dream was to grow up, live by myself in a fabulous Manhattan penthouse and write books. (Except during my Emma Peel “Avengers” phase, when I wanted to grow up, chase bad guys with a debonair partner and effortlessly throw people who got in my way across the room.)
Here’s how un-romantic I was: after “Snow White” aired on “The Wonderful World of Disney” and all my twelve-year-old pals were singing “Some Day my Prince Will Come,“ I refashioned the lyrics so they’d apply to me.
“Someday my prince will come,” I sang, “and I’ll tell him to fuck himself.”
Despite all of this, as a child, I adored Valentine’s Day.
Every year my sister and I would spend hours crafting hand-made Valentines for every kid in class from every art supply we could get our hands on. Construction paper. Glitter. Ribbons. Doilies. Stickers.
Each was a personalized work of art. If your pal Joanie loved her Yorkie, you drew his picture on her Valentine. Patty was into horses? You’d festoon her Valentine with Palimino stickers. Ben, who loved “Mad” Magazine, got an Alfred E. Newman Valentine. For our very best friends, we composed poems of the “Roses are red/violets are blue“ variety.
On Valentine’s Day, the class took turns going around the room delivering valentines to the shoebox “mailboxes“ on each desk. Then, we opened them.
What a great moment! It was nothing but treasure. Glittering store-bought cards. Elaborately crafted hand-made cards. Vintage old timey Valentines. Dozens of little heart-shaped candies. Poems and notes and special messages from your best friends. Sprinkle-covered heart-shaped cookies. Pink-iced cupcakes.
It was something I looked forward to all year. But it wasn’t about romance. What did we know about romance? We were in elementary school. For us, it was a celebration of friendship.
When we hit junior high, Valentine’s Day stopped being about friendship and began being about True Love. And I stopped caring about it.
Decades later, I think it’s time to reclaim the joy I used to feel on Valentine’s Day. Why does it have to be exclusively about Romantic Love? Why can’t those of us who just aren’t into that emotion (or who are between partners) be inspired by our grade school selves and celebrate the friends we love?
Not that I plan to go around handing out glittery hand-made construction paper hearts to all my pals. (Although perhaps I should.)
I’m thinking of going with something even more outside the box. I’ve consulted the Heifer International website and see that I can express my appreciation for our friendship on this special day by purchasing a llama for a third world family in your name.
Or, if we’re not quite that close, how about a hen?
We non-romantic types can start a new Valentine’s Day tradition! While others look deeply into each others eyes, exchange romantic gifts and walk hand-in-hand on a moon lit beach, the rest of us can say “Thank God for our friends” and exchange celebratory poultry.
Roses are red/violets are blue/I’m so glad we’re friends /here’s a chicken for you!
Happy Valentines Day!
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR which is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your favorite librarian or other bookish person.)