All over the world, there are only 2 holidays which send people into a shopping and gift giving frenzy: christmas and valentine's. Okay, perhaps I should have said "all over the anglophone, francophone and 'china-phone' world". Because in the Arabic speaking parts of the world, such frivolity is totally unacceptable: most arabs are allowed to partake in ONLY one pseudochristian holiday (if any), and Valentines day is, by a landslide, the more popular choice.
"Why?" You might wonder, "what appeal does this festival have over other more symbolic, more factual and altogether more wholesome holidays?" After all, one might think, Valentine's day is not even a 'real holiday'. Well, if you ask me, I'd say THAT is EXACTLY why it is more popular: You see, there's nothing 'holy' about Valentine's, and whatever it is that makes it special does not typically happen in the 'day'!
Personally, I think that the saying that "Sex sells" is absolutely true. And those who can't get it for free simply shrug, exhale, then buy it hook, line and sinker. (The notion or the action, whichever is more palatable to your sensibilities).
Maybe I am being a little too harsh to a holiday which has brought so much joy and happiness (not to mention financial benefits) to so many people. Officially, valentine's day celebrates love. And the vast majority of children beneath the age of 15 and females (of any age who were born into 'aje butter' homes) believe it to be so. Maybe that is why the Valentinian culture has been embraced worldwide; it caters to an insatiable need. A need to be adored, a need to be needed, a need to be loved.
Now, I am no expert on love (but sex? Like it or not, that is what I am a maestro at. An absolute prodigy, I tell you. Trust me, a trial would convince you!) ...Okay, I just had to put that out there (you never know!) but moving on now... Although I am no expert on love, I know for a fact that even the most cold-blooded killer has this feeling of incompleteness, this void which tugs at him or her, ('cos let's face it, women these days have taken the 'I can do better than a man' thing to a whole 'nother level), making them susceptible to Cupid's string propelled missile at least once in a lifetime.
And this season celebrates that vulnerability in a way that only Bill Gates could have dreamt up: by making someone smile all the way to the bank. Unfortunately, that person is not you!
In most of the countries where it is a legal holiday, (and even in the few where it isn't), valentine puts a lot of responsibility on the men. Don't get me wrong, it is hoped that on a special day like this, that the females will deem it fit to 'pay in kind', just as a token of the love they feel for their partner, but it is not a given. It is, really, a 50-50 thing. (20-80 if you are fat, short and ugly!)
The men, however, are expected (as a mandatory requirement) to pay (in cash or, at least, in credit/debit cards) for everything else: flowers, chocolates, presents, a dinner gown (accessories, thankfully, are optional), a dinner reservation, then dinner, then a movie, then a nice hotel room (especially if your 'bachelor's pad' looks as grotesque as a shoulder pad) and at the end, if the lady is so inclined, you're still expected to be good in bed!
"The whole works," ladies call it.
'The whole salary,' I call it!
The only country left out of this financial sadomasochism is Japan. Thanks to a typographical error at some point in the early 20th century when the brave Valentinian missionaries went to preach the good news of love and spending to the unconquered Asians, someone decided to write that 'females' were the ones required, nay expected, to buy the cards, flowers and candy for the males. And so, that is what happens in Japan; females giving gifts to us guys to celebrate Val's.
Can you imagine what that would be like? I can't. But I do imagine that it explains why the average japanese male is expected to live up to the ripe old age of 78.9 years! (compare with the Nigerian male life expectancy of 45 years for some perspective). Let me put it like this, if you were a japanese male and had such a wonderful valentine experience when you were 18, wouldn't you stick around for 60 (yes, sixty) more years for extra servings? I speak for myself when I say it: I would. No brainer.
It's not like I have too much to complain about, it's not like Valentine's day has been too hard on my pocket. Not in the least. Its just that it reminds me of things I want to forget. Because even though I know it is the most financially motivated holiday since the invention of Santa Claus, the rest of the world doesn't.
"You don't have a valentine?" a girl who I typically would find unattractive asks me. I consider her, deciding to look past the acne, blotchy stretch-marked skin and lazy eye. 'She's not so bad', I start to think, 'she might do, might make me look less pathetic if she was with me on Valentine's day. Let them attribute my poor choice to my poor eyesight'. Probably seeing the last glimmer of hope and desperation starting to simmer in my eyes, she continues: "Poor you. And I have to travel for my grandmother's funeral. What in the world are YOU going to do?"
I used to hear the saying 'I'm a lover, not a fighter' and I liked it. Because it gave one some good choices: be romantic or be valiant. Either way, you're a winner, y'know? But ever since I became old enough to be influenced by the spirit of St. Valentine, I have been given one choice only: Be a lover or a loser!
And even I am guilty of such a generalisation: "I want to visit an orphanage on Valentines day." a socially challenged girl I might have the misfortune of knowing might tell me. And at the back of my mind I'd go "Loser! No boyfriend, huh?"
And that gets me to the problem. I have an unnecessarily high standard for falling in love. My dream girl must be at least an 8/10 in a variety of aspects ranging from looks, to figure, conversational skills, taste in music, dance skills, table manners, temperament, sexual prowess... and the list goes on. There is even a portion for academic qualifications and work experience!
Now, the problem is not that my 'dream girl' does not exist, the problem is just that my dream girl, whenever I get to meet her, (and I have met her a couple of times!) has her own idea of who her 'dream man' should be. And it sure ain't me! As an adolescent, I was neither tall, nor dark, nor handsome. Upon entering adulthood, just when I thought I could heave a sigh of relief and say "look, at least I'm tall and I have got a real mean tan", the requirements completely changed!
Total package, the ladies said (which in other words meant 'rich, generous, and any one of the former requirements').
Total bullocks, I said (and that was in no relation to Sandra, the american actress)!
That is one of the reasons why I started this music thing in the first place. It gave me an outlet, a place to paint the world exactly how I wanted to see it. Beautiful. As long as a song I love is playing, (anything from 'Torn' by Natalie Imbruglia to 'With you' by Chris "the boxer" Brown) the world is great and I am flying without wings. But once the songs end and I'm brought down to earth with a thud, I realize I have to make it big.
So that I too can be rich and generous.
So that I too can afford to meet, get and keep my dream girl.
And so that I too can be caught up in all the extravagant silliness which is Valentine's day. Because, it IS about love, after all. How bad can it be?
By the way, I just decided to order "Japanese for dummies" so I can start studying Japanese, you know, just in case.
Because like I said, you never know!
It's your boy,
Fly fella, y'all!