About 15 years ago, I decided that I hated Valentine’s Day. I’d spent the day wading through wave after wave of nauseating treats—flowers delivered to classmates, candygram tables in the student union building and those stupid, stupid heart-shaped foil balloons—each of them obviously intended for someone other than me. Each of them reminding me that my pathetic on-again, off-again long-distance relationship was definitely “off.” Each of them stamping another “L” on my forehead.
In elementary school, I remember kids who wouldn’t give Valentine’s cards to unpopular classmates (full disclosure: Although my parents made me give cards to each child in my grade one class, I am ashamed to recall using my worst handwriting for the kid who still peed his pants). I’ve watched desperate husbands fighting over the last of the bent, smudged cards at the mall.
And so for those of you, dear Coast readers, who never understood what all the kissy-faced fuss was about, who feel the sting of the “L” stamp this year or who just plain hate the big VD, we present a few “Worst Valentine’s Day Ever” stories.
In grade four, Johanna, who grew up in the Valley, found a wee box shoved into one of her indoor shoes. Inside the box was an actual diamond ring, given to her by a boy with whom she shared a table in class. “When I opened the box and saw what it was, he mentioned he thought I was pretty and was wondering if we could get married, now, and in lieu of that, ‘go steady.’”
A cute story…except that the ring belonged to the boy’s dead mom, and once Johanna said no, “from that day forward, he chased me with snakes and bugs. Then in junior high and high school, he spread rumours about me being a lesbian and threatened me with fire.”
Denise Williams, a former Haligonian living in Santa Barbara, was dumped the night before Valentine’s Day when she was in university. “We dated October through February. I am assuming his other, more secret girlfriends had something to do with it.”
“As he was leaving, post-breakup discussion, he said he should warn me that I would be receiving flowers in the morning that he’d had to order a while ago, since he was sending the same ones to his mother, sister and aunt. AUNT FLOWERS!”
A Valentine’s Day dump can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Fran Elkington, a former model in Flitwick, England, once dated a chap named Simon. Fran was also friends with Jim, one of Simon’s bandmates and chums. The boyfriend didn’t take kindly to the friendship and ended the romance over the phone on February 13.
“My boyfriend yelled that we were finished and that our relationship had been a complete waste of time, and as part of his grand finale declared that I ‘might as well go and screw Jim,’” she says. “So I did. And then, just to make my point, I married him as well.”
When “Christina” was 17, a boyfriend gave her a homemade CD featuring him singing songs like “Space Oddity,” “Moon River” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” alone in his dorm room, accompanied only by the original versions playing faintly in the background. “The bastard could not sing,” she says. “Then he made me sit with him and listen to the entire thing. The whole thing! It was awful.”
Then there’s real-life musician BA Johnston, who is as lucky with love as the Hamilton Tiger Cats were against the Toronto Argonauts at this year’s Labour Day classic. (Argos won 48-zip.)
“Valentine’s Day, last year: I’m riding the lovely Nelson-to-Vancouver ‘express,’ which actually isn’t an express at all and stops at about 467 towns in central BC. In Kelowna, a guy gets on the bus and sits down beside me. I notice that his collar is soaked in blood and he has burn marks on his face. I decide to turn the light on and spend Valentine’s Night reading while having the most cracked-out guy on the planet try and throw his leg up over my lap and occasionally punch me as he shakes and shudders in his sleep. And that’s as close to sharing a bed as I have gotten in my 31 years on this earth.”
Some of you saps might believe flowers and booze can salvage any Valentine’s Day. Some of you would be wrong. Dead wrong. The 1926 murder of florist shop owner/bootlegger Dion O’Banion (flowers), plus the resulting Chicago gang wars (booze) equalled seven men riddled with bullets, lying dead on the floor of a north-side Chicago garage in the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. I ask you, where is the love in that?
Let’s not forget St. Valentine himself. Although legends about how he actually became a saint vary, the end result was the same: He was killed. So it kind of sucked for him too.
And for those of you who still love Valentine’s Day? The rest of us hate you.