So, it’s Valentine’s Day in the great land of plenty (of Bogans) and like shops all around the world, massive displays have been set up, overflowing with puddles of plushie red hearts, corny hyper-coloured balloons with balloons insides of them, random bee toys emblazoned with slogans proclaiming hideous puns like “Will you Bee my Valentine?” and of course, the Chalice of Romance, piles upon piles of red long-stemmed roses being sold in a cloud of baby’s breath at an inflationary price that would make any normal grown man’s colon spontaneously burst into a pustule-crowned smear. Valentine’s Day, like any good old event for “celebrating” has been pumped up to a point to which one cannot simply walk down the street without seeing some poor sod with a bundle of roses, looking frantically (and undoubtedly overflowing with embarrassment) for his date.
I’m not saying roses are a horrible thing, I do enjoy roses in small, infrequent doses - but when given on Valentine’s Day, the whole effort can seem falsified and actually, quite garish. But none of that is why I find them as unromantic as a highly invasive laparotomy proceedure. Here’s my unfiltered, and probably highly offensive, view of it: It requires no thought, no time, and no effort to send someone red roses. They are as ubiquitous as they are obvious. All that’s required is some method of payment, possible with some life-savings and slash or some sort of bodily sacrifice. Like an arm or a leg. My very cynical question is, how does a gift so entirely impersonal and commercialized add up to romance?
There’s a long-running joke in our culture about the ineptitude and the outright boring thoughtlessness of giving a bloke a tie on Father’s Day. But at least, in that case, you have to pick out the tie. And yes, the tie may still be hideous, but at least you thought about it.
Look, I get it. Love is hard. Expressing love, even through flowers, is a perilous and harrowing path. Especially for men, where on this day, you’re practically forced at gun-point to figure out something romantic to do/give even though your idea of a romantic night out is pizza, beers and a couple of video games (this is also my idea of a romantic night out, but that’s not the point). There’s the possibility of miscommunication with flowers: dislikes, life-threatening allergies, hidden insects, drippy packaging. There’s an entire industry built up around the idea that red roses signal love, with a capital L. And if red roses mean “I love you,” anything else must mean something less. Roses are not only simple and straightforward, they’re safe. The only real hazard is sending them too soon.
But to love someone, and to express that love, requires knowing them. If you want to send a gift that says you care, the first step is to show that you care. Show an interest in what she likes and longs for — in flowers and in life. Then, on any occasion when you want to do something nice for her, send her something that says you listened. If she (or he, for that matter) tells you she thinks red roses are the ultimate in romance then by all means, send them wantonly and with the sort of gleeful abandon that comes with knowing you’re Doing It Right. But take the time to know. That’s where REAL romance happens.