By Julie Symons - New Zealand journalist and world adventurer, currentling abiding in Switzerland.
The most horrible day of the year has passed and I'm still standing. In fact I'm noticeably upright, and that's the problem. I'm talking about Valentines Day here, the day you're supposed to be wined, dined and end up horizontal, not vertical. The day a small percentage of the female population get to walk around submerged under dozens of red roses, trying to wipe the grins off their faces so the remaining vast majority of us don't weep into our self-bought chocolate boxes in jealous depression.
A quick survey of my friends revealed what I'd suspected all along: Valentines Day is the most miserable day of the year. Even for those who have partners, there's always a nagging worry that the man will forget such a momentous occasion. (The slimeball!) At least the singles among us don't expect anything. It must be a horrible disappointment to spend the day in glorious anticipation only to return home to the sight of a beer-swigging, burping homosapian glued to the cricket on the tele.
And for the guy-less in my group, Valentines Day only suceeds in reminding us that we're heinously ugly losers destined to spend the rest of eternity in spinsterhood, knitting cardies for the neices and nephews and growing fat on T.V. dinners. Okay, so perhaps that's a little O.T.T., but my spirits do sink to an all time low on February 14th.
For me personally the perfect Valentines gift would be a card with a heart-felt message. In fact, after spending my teenage years totally Valentine-less, it's become quite an obsession. Even when past boyfriends gave me presents, without that cardboard symbol of Valentines Day I felt quite let down. This year a strictly platonic male friend sent me an electronic card. It was very sweet and made my day, but still I longed for the genuine thing, from a real, true-life boyfriend.
In a last ditch attempt at scoring my Valentine, I went to a Valentines party in Geneva. We played traffic lights: the desperate and dateless wore a green sticker, couples red, and the greedy partygoers who already had partners but wouldn't object to new ones wore orange. (Along with most of my single friends who didn't want to appear too, well, single.) About 250 of us crammed into a club that normally holds 50, and expectantly waited for Mr or Miss Right to walk into the room. And waited. And waited.
Okay, perhaps I have to conceed that Mr Right might indeed have been in the room but I wasn't likely to find out because I was too scared to mingle. In fact I don't think I said hello to a single male all evening, unless you count the doorman, the cloakroom attendant, and a guy who walked around distributing chocolate (now that's my kind of man).
Now I regret my shyness because, lets face it, Geneva isn't ripe for meeting people. If you walk around town you'll be approached by three types of people: Eastern Europeans after marriage for foreign passports, Middle Easterns for sex with "loose" western women, and Africans (I haven't yet sussed out what they're after). You never meet handsome, romantic, charming, funny, interesting, sexy, genuine elegible men. (I won't add rich to the list because that's just expecting too much!)
Women could be forgiven for wondering if there actually is such a thing as the perfect guy, except for the fact we occasionally hear stories of such novelties. One of my sisters, for example, received the whole shebang from her Romeo: flowers, chocolates and a teddy bear sent to her workplace (cue lots of envious sighs), followed by a romantic weekend away. It almost makes you sick.
I know I sound bitter and cynical. I suppose I'm getting in some practice for those future years of spinsterhood. But I can guarantee you one thing: I will be singing the praises of Valentines Day 2003 if I have someone to give me a card. Even though I'm already dreading the possibility I'll be Valentine-less, again.
Copyright Julie Symons 2002