Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

Afternoon Inquisition, 2.13

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. When I was single, it was at worst a reminder of my solitude, at best an evening when you couldn’t get a reservation for a decent restaurant.  When I was with someone, it seemed like it was a holiday of forced romance and unreasonable expectations. Somewhat doomed to fail. That being said, I’ve had some very pleasant Valentine’s Day experiences, mostly because I have a husband who takes it about as seriously as I do and generally, when we go out, we enjoy each others’ company and have a good time.  But this isn’t about me, of course. Your question for the day (and you knew this was coming):

Valentine’s Day – love it or hate it? And, if you’re in the mood, tell us your hottest or most horrific Valentine’s Day stories!


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Like it.
    My wife and I express love for each other all the time but use Valentine’s Day to fill the house with flowers. All kinds of flowers as neither of us particularly like roses.

    After 20 years of marraige it is still very special to take the time to express what that special person means to you. Avoid the hype and encourage the emotion.

  2. Not a fan.

    I worked at a florist’s once on Valentine’s Day. We sold 3 18-wheeler truckloads of red roses that day to an unending line of unimaginative men. And at the end of the day, when the shop was closed, locked and we were all about to leave, a man came and pounded on the door *demanding* that we sell him roses…which we did not have. Nothing like threatening someone with calling the cops to end the day.

    I hate red roses.

  3. To my future boyfriend/husband: pick any other day of the year and give me flowers/chocolates/presents then. I will appreciate the surprise much more than a red rose on Valentine’s Day when you’re bombarded by pink hearts and sugary sweet greetings and cutesy bears and everyone is doing the same thing in a sort of forced kind of way because it’s Valentine’s….

  4. One way or another i always end up getting candy out of it. So I like it.

    Once and only once have i ever actually done anything for V-Day. I was working at a law firm and had been flirting with a girl at the reception desk. I brought her some chocolates and she brought me a sausage and cheese kolache. It was magical.

    Remember that ladies. Kolaches are awesome.

  5. I’ve been fortunate these last 5 years to have work that takes me out of town every Valentines Day. It was certainly nice of the NBA to plan their Allstar week extravaganza to fall across this day every year.

    Before that time though, I think one of my favorite Valentines Days was when me and me then girlfriend got all dressed up to go bowling. It was wonderfully non-cliche to be there in nice dress clothes knocking down pins instead of doing the same dumb boring thing as everyone else. We pretty much had the place to ourselves because who goes bowling on V-Day.

    I would also like to point out that you cannot spell V-Day without V-D.

  6. I never was a big fan… But one year, I decided to make a big deal out of it. That horrific story goes like this:

    I had a really good friend throughout high school and college (and even through till today, though it was a little rocky for a while after the events described below). I had always found her attractive, both intellectually and physically, but I never had the guts to do anything about it.

    Thus, there was no pressure release. I found myself falling down the rabbit hole, completely enamored and in love beyond escape…

    I finally decided I couldn’t take it any longer, so the night before Valentine’s Day in, I believe, my junior year of college, I wrote the most embarrassingly vulnerable and confessional several-pages-long love letter professing how much I was in love with everything about her and emailed it to her, how spending time with her made me happier than anything else in the world.

    The next morning I had the following email in my inbox:

    “I’m afraid I am unable to reciprocate your romantic feelings.”


  7. I generally refer to VD either by its initials, which I find funny because I’m rather juvenile, or “Single & Bitter Day,” because that’s a good description of my overall attitude around this time of year.

    Beyond my own personal asshattery, though, I find VD (*snort* *giggle*) to be little more than an exercise in commercialism. A friend of mine, actually my former boss, put it like this: “I don’t need Hallmark to tell my wife I love her.”

    All in all, I like to think of myself as the Ebenzer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day. Bah! Humbug!

  8. I’m not a fan of valentine’s day at all, for sevearl reasons, but rather than rehash them, here’s a video I put up a couple years back about just this topic if anyone is bored enough to watch such silliness.

  9. I’m okay with it. I like sugar, so that’s good, and I like love, so that’s good, too. I hate commercialism, so that’s bad. But when you do the math, I’m still up by one so I say: GOOD.

    I can’t think of any really amusing V.D. stories, though . . . I guess I’ve never really made a big deal of it.

  10. I’ve never been a fan of our ‘themed’ holidays. I’ve never understood America’s need to box up an entire emotion or concept into a single day. Why is *this* day the day it’s OK to tell people you love them? Why is *this* day the day it’s OK to drink green beer and vomit in the street? Why is *this* day the day it’s OK to disguise your features, accost random people in their homes and demand a reward in exchange for not terrorizing them? Shouldn’t that be *every* day? I just don’t get it.

    Not that Valentine’s Day itself has ever really tried to win me over. My parents divorced when I was a child, beginning with a yearlong trial separation which was filed on February 12. The next year, 2/12 fell on a Saturday, so the divorce itself wasn’t finalized until the following Monday. That event may have been the origin of my skeptical tendencies.

  11. It’s the commercialism that ruins it. I have a really difficult time finding ridiculously overpriced flowers and overbooked restaurants romantic.

  12. Oh fuck, is it Valentine’s Day again already? I’m still reeling from Groundhog Day.


    Okay honey — pick an extra pizza topping to celebrate.

  13. I don’t particularly care for Valentine’s Day. I don’t mind it, but I do object to two things. One, that it’s so often used as a metrestick for the relationship by women. And two, that if I say “I don’t really care about Valentine’s, it doesn’t matter” everyone assumes I’m lying.

  14. Rebel 16 – Are occasions being marked okay? Birthday, Anniversaries but not holidays? No Mother’s Day, Grandparents Day? You would celebrate Independence Day? Maybe not just the ones that legislate emotion? I don’t know can we clarify the lines here?

    It is true I like a holiday much more when I get it off from work.

  15. It’s a BS holiday IMO. I’m going to enjoy my perma-singleness Saturday when I don’t have the deal with any of it. Then I’m going to go out the next day any buy the biggest box of candy I can find while it’s on sale…and I will love it!

  16. Not sure if this is an everywhere thing, but in Boston we used to call St. Patricks Day and New Year Eve “Amateur Night.” If you were a true partier, you stayed home those nights.

  17. I’m sorry man, I can’t go out tonight, I have to stay home and shovel the snow off my cold dead heart.

  18. I generally oppose the promotion of Valentine’s day in Norway. It’s presence is just another symptom of our addiction to American mass media.

    However. The student council of my school distributes Valentine’s day roses. You pay a dollar (actually 10 NOK), write the name of the recipient and your greeting on a small card, and on the 14th (or 13th this year), you get a rose and the card in class some time during the school day.

    And I got the second highest number of roses of anyone in the entire school! Eight of them. Okay, so they were all (as far as I can determine) from my wiseass physics students. But the greetings all cracked me up and they got their money’s worth. And by the implicit rules of the game, I have the second largest number of male admirers in school.

  19. I have a good VD story from my sister.

    My niece’s (who is 14, and is fast on her way to becoming a heart-stopping knockout) school gave everyone a quiz, then charged everyone $1 to find out who they are best matched with. My niece, curious as to which of the cute boys constantly in her wake is most compatible, gave a dollar to find out.

    Answer: her 13-year-old, socially awkward, Pokemon-addicted younger brother. (They live in Alabama . State motto: “We don’t filter siblings out of love tests.”)

    Her brother is highly amused. So is her mom. So am I. So are all of her suitors. As is pretty much everyone except my niece, who is mortified and is now thinking fratricidal thoughts so this doesn’t happen again.

    They are also auctioning free lunches with 15 selected girls and boys, and my niece is one of the auction items. I told my nephew that if he outbids the top bidder, I’ll pay him the auction fee AND get him a Wii game of his choice. I haven’t heard if he went for it — I hope the two of them have a wonderful time at Outback.

    Anyway, sorry. Except for things like this, VD blows.

  20. I’m “off the hook” again. Third year in a row.

    I’m not sure how I feel about Valentine’s Day. On the one hand, it’s a nice sentiment. On the other, it seems a bit too forced and regimented for something that should be spontaneous.

    “On the fourteenth day of the second month, you will express affection for your mate. This affection must be expressed using cardioid shapes and floral arrangements, both in the colors pink and red. On all other days, it it acceptable to show indifference. ”

    Bah! What if I’d prefer to show my feelings with a picnic in a planetarium on November 20th (Edwin Hubble’s birthday) instead? Or maybe champagne and chocolate in a butterfly garden on July 20 (Gregor Mendel). The whole thing just seems to be designed to short-circuit any sort of imaginative behavior when it comes to romance.

  21. A “Guy’s” New Years Eve:
    12/31/1987: I go over to a friend’s place for a guy’s night of poker and drinking. Girls show up. We are dragged out dancing. Nooo! Wind up with this one cute chick slow dancing to _Comfortably Numb_ around midnight. She thinks it is hysterically funny. I get her number.

    Yes, over a month later:
    2/10/1988: Finally get around to calling cute chick. She suggests we go out on 2/15. I say that’s my birthday, can we make it the day before? We go out to TGI Friday’s where I am surprised to see them handing out flowers. She says “It is a special day, you know.” Me, clueless, reply “It’s the day before actually.” We have a lovely time. Her friends assure her that I was only playing it cool.

    Two years of dating go by:
    2/10/1990 I make strong hints like “Where do you see our relationship going?” She freaks. I drop it.

    She thought about it:
    2/14/1990 On bended knee, she proposes. We’ve been married ever since. We still occasionally dance to Comfortably Numb on Valentines Day.

    I love this day!

  22. @hotphysicsboy: Very true.

    My co-worker in the cube next door just had a rather nasty breakup. She and her other single girlfriends are going out on Saturday. Guys *never* do this. They just do whatever shit they would have otherwise done.

  23. I have a special valentines day tradition that I partake in when I’m not unlucky enough to have a lukewarm relationship at the time:

    I buy a moderately expensive bottle of single malt scotch, and drink it while watching sports.

    The end.

  24. To me, Valentine’s Day is just another opportunity to romantic. I try to be romantic with my wife whenever I can any day of the year. Sometimes it’s hard, takes effort, or there’s little time for whatever reason. But it’s almost always worth it. Of course, maybe it’s just me – sometimes I think I enjoy doing it more than my wife does.

    Last year, on V-Day, I stayed up the night before and setup a treasure hunt for my wife. I hid little notes all over the house. Each one led to the next with some silly little rhyme and puzzle that she had to figure out. I got up early and left the first clue on the table where she normally sits for meals. Then went off to work before she got up.

    I spent the day with a smile, chuckling to myself and wondering how she was doing with the hunt.

    She and my daughter (was 6 at the time) spent the morning searching for clues and had a blast. At the end, they found a small assortment of lotion and bath stuff. But, really, it was all about the treasure hunt.

  25. I sort of like the idea of the day. I like letting my loved ones know that I’m thinking of them. This time of year has gotten very crowded with other celebrations over the years, though. My wife’s birthday is in mid-January, so I have to plan some sort of celebration and get her a gift right after Christmas. Our anniversary is in early March. My mom’s birthday is the 12th (yesterday). And our son was born 3 years ago on the 9th. Couple all that with the fact that we just got back from vacation a week ago and I’m scrambling to get things done this year.

    Historically, I’ve had some bad Valentine’s Day memories. The worst I can think of was in high school. I had a major crush on a girl in my geometry class, and decided to make a grand gesture to demonstrate my feelings. I bought some nice thick parchment-style paper and wrote out an original love poem using a fancy calligraphy pen and ink. I sealed it up with wax, and handed it to her with a single red rose right before class. She didn’t really say anything other than “Thank you.” And me, being the shy young man I was back then, didn’t press the issue. Later, I was told through a mutual friend that she basically wasn’t interested. The footnote is that we did wind up dating for a while a few years later. I don’t think either of us ever talked about that day again, though.

  26. Oh yea; tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I had forgotten. Really.

    I think that Valentine’s Day is a conspiracy among greeting card makers to promote their products.

    This “V.D.” (I like that term! ;-) I’m planning on going hiking out in a remote area. Alone.

    That’s one way to avoid the problems.

  27. Ahhh….Valloween, as I like to call it. Scary holiday. I don’t care for it, for pretty much all the reasons noted here: the commercialism, forced affection, and making singles feel bad. My partner thankfully feels the same.

    I have different ideas of romantic, anyway (I love Steve’s suggestions!). I’d prefer a bouquet of kittens to a bouquet of roses. Not that we need any more cats; we’re up to seven now.

    And skepticalhippie (#20) and TheCzech (25) made me lol.

  28. I usually don’t mind VD….Okay, let’s not use the abb. version. I don’t mind Valentine’s Day. But I don’t care for roses or chocolate. My wife got me an unexpected video game this year which was awesome. I am going to give her a plaster cast of my hand and my son’s inside that (if I can pull it off).

    How do you feel about see Valentine’s Day junk on Jan. 2nd? Or Easter stuff now? Only thing that makes me happy about Easter is those little milk chocolate eggs that are sugar coated… Mini Eggs i think.

  29. For me it’s simple – when in a relationship, agree on its significance or not with your sweetie (particularly important when your sweetie is fond of the celebration).

    When not in a relationship, the agreement phase is that much easier. (It is sad to me that some people send themselves flowers just because…)

    I’ve had partners who love the day and those who dismiss it – c’est la vie.


  30. Looking back after several years, I’ve realized that never in my life has Valentines Day been anything other than an overtly commercialized holiday with only kept alive because it’s another reason to receive gifts. And all to often they’re expected to be expensive to show your significant other that you love them enough to put the both of you further in debt.

    Currently, I’m single (no, not because of any Valentine’s incident) and have found out about an alternate holiday just for us: Singles Awareness Day, which I celebrate instead. So for all singles out there – Happy SAD!

  31. Eh. For us, it’s an excuse to go out for a nice dinner and make Hallmark a little richer. I usually don’t buy the reproductive organs of certain plants for her on V-Day anymore, though. I have a hard time with the concept of paying four times the going rate for flowers just because of the date on the calendar.

  32. Valentine’s Day might be the only holiday I actively dislike. I can’t see how it does anything different than Christmas or a birthday, but with an overabundance of pink, candy no one enjoys, and a monomaniacal focus on picking the one person that supposedly means the most to you. It seems determined as a holiday to simultaneously exist at the far-too-serious and too-campy-to-be-tolerated ends of the spectrum simultaneously. I’ll take a pass for an actually decent date or two at a time when it actually fits.

  33. I usually hate V.D. but this year my school has a service where you can pay singers to serenade your significant other. I totally think it’s worth ten bucks to single out a complete stranger for an embarrassing five minutes.
    “Who do you want to send this out to?”
    “That guy.”
    “What’s his name?”
    “I dunno. Dave, maybe?”
    Huge LOLs

  34. I hate it with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. Moreso because it is also my birthday, thus forcing pretty much everybody to stereotype me into being the most romantic man on earth.

    For that reason, it is a good thing that chocolates are the traditional gift and not knuckle dusters, seeing as I don’t want to wake up Feb 15th at the crossbar Hilton.

  35. To my partner and I, Valentine’s just an excuse to buy each other a small gift and eat a nice dinner together. This year I got him some DVD’s he’s been wanting, he bought me a big teddy bear, and we will be at home tomorrow eating some turkey and a chocolate pudding pie.

    The nicest gift he got me were some African violets that he got for me 2 years ago. He got me those because I told him I don’t like getting dead flowers. It’s still blooming today.

  36. Singles Awareness Day?

    Na, don’t care much for it.

    That said, it also marks the beginning of two and a half years of WoW, averaging about seven hours a day… a period of my life I’m glad is behind me.

    So, drink up, and pour a 40 on the curb for the Horde…

  37. I love it. I just do.

    If you’re single, there’s a gagilion singles parties to go to; if you’re not, it’s a good time to have someone over.

    I don’t go for the presents/candy/roses though. I never did. A nice card, maybe a “spring arrangement” if you know she likes those, otherwise not. And, I’m always up to cook.

    It’s a great excuse set up a table for two, light some candles, cook something she didn’t know you could cook and get the poor girl so drunk she’ll think you’re a master chef.

    Actually, I suppose I do that off and on all year around. But it’s more fun on V-day.

    Especially on a weekend, like this year!

    Good night. It’s time for old men to go to sleep.

    I’ll be a needin’ my rest,


  38. @TheCzech: Well, maybe nice honorable guys never go out on Valentine’s Day… but all of the sketchy mildly to moderately predatory men I know are convinced it’s a once a year opportunity to exploit the insecurities of single women which are greatly magnified by the mass cultural hysteria surrounding the holiday. I imagine that most of the women on skepchick are far too intelligent to be manipulated so easily, but the vast majority of females “just having a girls night out” on 2/14 are to some degree ashamed of being single, which is unfortunate. I think the stereotype that all women want to be in a serious relationship is the complement to the “men only want sex” stereotype.


    V-Day = desperate women

  39. My most horrific Valentine’s Day story was the evening of 2/14 one year when Christine Lavin was playing a concert in town, and I, dealing with undiagnosed depression, didn’t feel like going out. My wife is a huge fan, and I like her music as well, but that evening I couldn’t deal with being out of the apartment, so I insisted on staying home. Needless to say there was an argument.

  40. I actually like VD and usually make a card for my wife that is personalized rather than buying some Hallmark tripe. Chocolate is always nice, but we’re watching our weights, so it’s not necessary. Flowers are optional. Basically, it’s an excuse for us to go out. More significant for us is Friday the thirteenth since our first date was on a Friday the thirteenth. We always make it a point to celebrate those.

  41. @Bjornar: Heh… I cqn already see how that debate is going to go:

    “It’s a religious holiday, made to celebrate a religious figure and based on his persecution of the “snakes” of another religious group.”

    “Well, YEAH. But there will be green been and the Pogues.”

  42. I honestly cannot understand hating a holiday designed to allow you to tell someone you love them with no low bar on how sappy you are allowed to be. Of course it is good to pick a random day and do something nice for your sweetie, actually you should do this regularly, but this does not preclude celebrating Valentines Day.

    It sounds like what a lot of people don’t like is the “traditional” trappings of Valentines Day. Okay. Pick your own. To tell the truth I’ve never been a huge fan of dead plants as a gift, chocolate goes down way better after Drinking Skeptically (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is right on the way to the bus station), and I have not bought a Hallmark card in my life. For a card I’m going to add some of my words to XKCD’s fabulous Sierpinski’s heart which is as close as I will come to traditional. For pressies I have “bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls” and Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog. Breakfast will be chocolate scones with great honking chunks of Ghirardelli chocolate. Dinner will be meatloaf made with freshly ground chuck, pork loin, lamb, and wrapped in bacon with a dark sugar ketchup glaze and likely some fat bastard California red that can stand up to this. (When I ease off vegetarian I ease way off). After that maybe a bath where I wash her feet until she makes noises like a cat. Who knows? I just know I love this day and everyone else should too! :-)

  43. On reflection, I think I agree that I hate all the mindless commercialism of V-Day more than the idea of the holiday itself.
    This is one of those holidays where a handmade gift or a loving/caring action is far more appropriate than making Hallmark richer.

  44. Years ago my girlfriend said she was taking me out to dinner for Valentine’s day. She took me to a steak house — she knew I was a vegetarian. I ordered and ate the Porterhouse. Kept the necklace I was going to give her in my pocket. After dinner, dropped her off at her door with a peck. Went home, at the box of chocolates followed by ice cream. Years later, ran into her again in San Francisco (we both lived in Seattle when this happened). We had a good laugh, and went to Alice Water’s restaurant.
    Oh — the day we went to that restaurant – Valentine’s day.

  45. I’ll be more into Valentine’s Day when there’s a complementary holiday for men to be treated as special. And don’t give me the crap about Valentine’s Day being for men as well as women – check out how it’s portrayed in any and all forms of media and then try making that assertion.

    I’m not sure if this is what Bjornar’s talking about, but there is a movement for creating the male equivalent: Not coincidentally, it happens to be my birthday, so I should get presents and cake in between the two special events…

  46. HAHA so I just got flowers from an ex-bf (from 2007) and um, I have no idea what to do with them. They are red roses. Ugh, cliche. And I don’t like him, not one bit. I’ve NOT been leading him on, he’s just very oblivious. Also, an asshole. I don’t want these flowers and I’m not sure what to tell him. I suck at this.

    V-Day is stupid. I mean, if someone I’m dating wants to make dinner or go out for a few drinks or something, I’m all for that, but to be honest I’m not all that into V-Day. I don’t like jewelry and I hate roses (if you’re going to give flowers, be original at least!).

    But what does one do when someone sends them flowers they do not want?! :(

  47. @marilove: “But what does one do when someone sends them flowers they do not want?! ”

    I’d cut them into small pieces and send them back. Guys sometimes need giant, neon hints before they get the message.

  48. @marilove: Do nothing. Don’t say “thanks for the flowers” don’t send them back. Either way is ackowledging his existence, and that’s what it sounds like he wants you to do.. And as for the flowers themselves, red roses are lame and ugly, so either toss them or give them to a lovelorn friend who feels all lonely for VD and could use some cheap-ass roses to brighten their day.

  49. For the record I dread this day more than my own birthday. It is a reminder of how un-loved I think I am by people I treasure.
    I usually make it a day of service..picking someone I believe is probably more pitiful than myself and doing something nice for them. It is rewarding.I really identify with the lost. This year, however, I was surprised to be at the receiving end of the sweetest, most unselfish gift of affection any human could ask for. The person is thoughtful and has a way of making simple and pure actions grand and romantic. WOW! I’m still afraid of VD because I think it turns a spotlight on a tender part of the human condition. But all in all, this VD was the best I ever experienced. I guess I have to revise my thoughts on this bastard holiday.

  50. Its not that bad or good a story but just the phrasing makes me laugh.
    This year I got turned down by a red hot, poledancing, mathematician.

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