Valentine’s Day isn’t about love. It’s about business. Here are some factoids a friendly publicist shared with me: The valentine-inclined are anticipated to spend northwards of $17.6 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Of them, 59 percent will spend an average of $128. Valentine-inspired spending on pets likewise sees an uptick, with an average of $23 spent on gifts for non-humans.
What's Love Got to Do With It?
The question looms, what does all this capital expenditure have to do with a Christian priest martyred in the third century A.D.? A man of Mr. Valentine’s sensibilities would be appalled by the overt displays of affection annually made in his chaste name. The candy, the cards, the cupids and the those infernal, anatomically-incorrect depictions of the human heart would be enough to make him eat his own, chocolate or not.
Besides, there is more appropriate iconography to commemorate the erstwhile saint than red hearts. His flower-crowned skull, for example. It’s on exhibit at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome. Sure, it’s a bit Grateful Dead-ish, but sending a skull to a lover would definitely convey a message (perhaps the wrong message but a message nonetheless). It could go either way, really.
This is why you might consider being purposely vague with your amorous intentions. A modicum of ambiguity is recommended for the sake of romance, since it’s often perceived as being “mysterious.” Take it too far and mysterious turns to “evasive,” which is a notch below “avoiding.”
Naturally, avoiding your Valentine sends a message more distinct than that achieved by simply being ambiguous, so proceed with caution.
That said, if you receive an ambiguous valentine (wherein the contents merely read, “Hey, you!” or something similarly noncommittal) there are various clues you can use to deduce the sender’s intentions.
My Bloody Valentine
Look at the signature of your valentine. Is it signed in blood? If so, is it yours? No? Good, you’re fit enough to continue reading. A person who signs your valentine in blood is trying to tell you something. It could be as benign as, “I’m a hemophiliac and damn this quill is sharp,” or it could express an ardent admiration beyond the pale of conventional romance and/or mental health. The kind of romantic who pops a vein to express love might later pop a vein of yours to express their disappointment at the relationship’s inevitable failure. Call the police.
Valentines that include confectionary could mean your paramour is “sweet on you” or that they hope to systematically induce obesity, diabetes or a host of related dangerous medical conditions that result from sugar. Remember, the University of California, San Francisco’s Dr. Robert Lustig considers sugar toxic. Also remember that, when you’re biting into that almond roca, cyanide purportedly tastes similar to almonds. Yum. Call Dr. Lustig at 415-502-8672.
Roses or other thorny vegetation (like artichokes) can send mixed messages. It goes something like, “How lovely – ouch!” when the roses (or artichoke) are grasped without garden gloves. Sure, “every rose has its thorn,” sang the man with the lipstick and Spandex, and he was right, but need I remind that he also sang in a band called Poison? This doesn’t bode well. That said, if you’re date brings you a less prickly, non-rose sort of flower, they might be a cheapskate, which is somehow worse than being dangerous. Call a florist.
Your Secret Admirer
If your valentine comes unsigned or signed something to the effect of “Your Secret Admirer,” you have a stalker. In quainter days, secret admirers might have seemed cute, even romantic, but then those days also had legal provisions for “forcible seduction.” If you receive such a valentine, call the police, Dr. Lustig and a florist and accuse each in turn of sending you the valentine. If no one fesses up, you’re probably safe. For now.
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