Let's face it: generally speaking, as a single person, there's really no way to feel good about Valentine's Day
Even as an eight-year-old, the purple charm necklaces and stuffed Jack Russell terriers my mom would present to me as gifts felt tinged with pathetic-ness. I knew this holiday wasn't meant for me, and I knew there was something uniquely painful in the exclusion.
(At least when you're Jewish on Christmas you can go party with other hipsters and eat lox; whining with other un-desired people just ain't the same.)
But back to getting cruelly/awesomely rejected on February 11th.
We all know that Valentine's Day is an ugly holiday. And not just because of the shockingly hideous heart-shaped padded leather bag I saw on an otherwise evidently sane woman last night on Second Avenue.
No, Valentine's Day is ugly because it entices all of us to embrace some really unattractive feelings.
First of all, jealousy, the least attractive feeling ever: jealous of your friends who've been paired up long enough to be eating out; jealous of your coupled friends established enough to be all smug about it and stay in; jealous of every paired-off New Yorker, no matter how mismatched or miserable, because at the very least they are not tasked with making their own goddamn plans. (Told you it was hideous.)
Even if you're paired, though, there's the pathetic, uncute longing for your partner to buy you flowers/truffles/outrageously overpriced dinner/some commercial token of their affections that -- politically -- you want to think is stupid. But you can't help it. Because, without chocolate, it's hard to really believe you're loved.
But if you're single, there's also the pathetic, unattractive longing V-Day pummels you with to want not to be. "You should burn a lot of pink today," one friend advised me. I wanted to reply, "But I kind of like pink." Actually, I don't. But I do like romance, and boyfriends, and I wish, today, like most days, that I had one. And you know what? That ain't cute! Valentine's Day doesn't just make you feel bad about single. It makes you feel bad about feeling bad.
Which brings me back to why I'm so happy I got hurt this week. Seriously, short of some antique strain of Chlamydia, I could not have asked for a better gift.
Because now, instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, I can feel super entitled about it! I can sit home and watch episodes of Girls and think about whether Lena Dunham gets laid more or less than me. I can walk to Duane Reade in my pajamas and buy packages of Crunch and Kit Kat bars and mosey right on up to that register without any shame: I'm not binging on chocolate because it's Valentine's Day! I'm binging because one of the 13 men in Manhattan with feelings who I thought really liked me didn't like me so much as I thought!
Valentine's Day is so great.
Right now, I've got every reason to embrace feeling shitty, every permission to feel deeply sorry for myself, to wallow in my sad and loneliness.
I know -- it's not particularly pretty. But it's better than jealousy, which is really hideous. And which may or may not allow me to wake up when it's all over to go back to being depressed and angsty without the additional pain of other people eating shellfish.
In our mega-ironic age, we're all supposed to hate Valentine's Day: it's a hopelessly earnest holiday, and not in a harmless Scandinavian sort of way -- in a terribly corporate, grossly American way.
And yet, when you're heartbroken, it's the ultimate permission to wallow.
What a gift: who needs tulips when, for Valentine's Day, you can hear someone tell you they'd rather be with someone else?