Yesterday, while buying shaving cream at CVS, I couldn’t help but notice all the un-purchased candy left over from Valentine’s Day. Next to the obvious desire to consume giant heart-shaped boxes in a monsoon-like frenzy, I couldn’t help but wonder why there was so much extra. Did no one buy Valentine chocolates this year? Later, I was talking to a friend of mine who had a major diatribe against the holiday. “I did nothing, I hate this stupid holiday.” Which got me thinking — when did it become fashionable to hate the day of love?
Now I must confess, I’m a bleeding heart romantic. Most fat guys are. We’re all a bit like Manny from Modern Family: Goofballs that wear suits to parties where our secret crush will be. (Truth be told, I think the show’s producers had my childhood in mind when creating that character, because that’s exactly who I was in elementary and middle school — an affluent and well-groomed Mexican intellectual.)
But disregarding my fellow rotund romantics, most people see Valentine’s Day as a tedious chore. Even when I was in elementary school. The ritual then was pretty simple: Your mom took you to a stationery store, you bought a few cards with hearts and cupids drawn on them, you wrote “Happy Valentine’s Day to Sarah” or Becky, or Amanda, and then you taped some chocolate on the card. If you put any more thought into the gesture than Derek Jeter puts into those consolation baskets he gives his one-night stands, you were doing it wrong. Which means I was doing it wrong. Back then, Valentine’s Day was my time to shine. I wasn’t about to limit my creativity to just four or five cards. Every girl in my class got a card, because in my book they were all beautiful and special. I wrote poems that would have made Juliet say, “Romeo who?” And there weren’t any cheap Snickers coming from this guy, either — I was handing out boxes of Godiva, because I. Love. Valentine’s Day. Then again, if you took a poll of what fat men think about the day of love, you’d get two different answers. Either they hate the holiday with the same intensity with which they hate heartburn, or they love it in the same way they love the garlic fries that gave them the heartburn. Those who hate it do so for the same reason as everyone else: Relationship status. Sans girlfriend, the fat man thinks, “I hope everyone ends up alone wallowing in a pit of despair.” I run into this latter response all the time from skinny and fat alike — the cynicism seems to be increasing in frequency every year. It makes me wonder why everyone’s so down on love.
I understand that people don’t like inauthentic displays of affection. But fakeness has been wrongly associated with Valentine’s Day because people believe that designating a single day to love takes away spontaneity and genuineness. “Planned love isn’t love,” they say, as if planning romance is constrictive or takes the away sincerity of an act. I call bull! Was Shakespeare a terrible poet because he wrote “constrictive” sonnets instead of free verse? No. Restricting himself to a particular form forced him to be more creative.
The same can be said of Valentine’s Day. You have to make choices about where you want to go to dinner, what you want to talk about or do, etc., and each one of these choices has to have the maximum romantic impact in the shortest amount of time.
So, you want to take her breath away as soon as possible? When it comes to seeking advice about showy romantic gestures, I suggest calling a fat guy. In my experience, fat guys are the best at making romantic gestures because we feel like we have a lot at stake in our relationships. We feel that Valentine’s Day is our time to show our girlfriend just how much she means to us — and how much we’re willing to spend to keep her by our side. Fat guys have a built in neuroticism that makes us believe we need to keep reminding our lady why we’re worth dating. Valentine’s Day is like our Fourth of July. It’s all about proving that we’re the best at showing our affection while simultaneously distracting you from our less-than-desirable physique. The more creative we can be, the more likely she’ll stick around for a few months. So we have to up the ante year after year. Anyone else would get tired of this, but fat guys love any challenge that gives them an excuse to indulge in a 20 oz. steak. The more extravagant we can be, the better — and if there’s a Groupon involved, that’s awesome.
True, associating love with material gifts might come from insecure and unhealthy places in the back of our minds, the places that have us turn to food as a way to deal with stress so that we equate emotional satisfaction with physical indulgence. But in the case of Valentine’s Day, our materialism stems from the best intentions, I assure you. It’s not that we think love can be bought, or that all you girls care about is how much money your boyfriend can afford to spend on dinner. All we’re trying to say is that you’re worth the world to us. If we could buy the moon, we’d pay with cash. So next year eat your Chicken Cordon Bleu and be grateful you have a boyfriend (fat or not) that enjoys celebrating Valentine’s Day — after all, we’re a dying breed.
Sandor Mark is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a weekly columnist for the Daily Free Press. He can be reaced at firstname.lastname@example.org.