I am not going to try to convince you that there is anything remotely acceptable about commercialised paraphernalia, overpriced menus, awkwardly tentative PDAs and saccharine film releases. So, how can I possibly explain my affinity for the festal instigator of these atrocities? As far as I’m concerned, Valentine’s isn’t a day for honeyed, lovestruck couples. Instead, it offers perfect conditions, under the cover of anonymity, to spark intrigue and approach the inapproachable.
For those of you who already self-identify as romantics in the adventurous, fanciful sense of the word, you have no excuse; the anonymity that comes with the traditional valentine is the ideal invitation (if you need one, that is) to make mischief. February 14th is the day you can justify all manner of whimsical scribbles and nameless tokens of affection…to anyone. Oxford even has a discrete system in place; with their public visibility in Porters’ Lodges, pigeonholes add a delicious dimension of intrigue, while being able to accommodate more than just a card if need be. To be on the safe side of absolute secrecy, beware the internal mail (your college may be stamped on the envelope) and if personal delivery seems too risky, coerce a cupid, because honestly, what good friend wouldn’t help you out in the name of a little fascination?
If you’re worried this is all talk and no trousers, let me share some of my highlights; my valentines have featured Cloak Room Guy, Jericho CafÃ© Boy, Cravat Boy and The Johnny Depp Grad, messages written on napkins, pink ukuleles, scrawls on manuscript paper (a not-so-Âsubtle attempt to hint my identity) and of course, the classic, charmingly kitsch failsafe of a single, foil-wrapped chocolate heart. You are welcome to cringe on my behalf (though you might reconsider if I disclosed details of the success rate), but I have always believed this approach to be far more desirable than a reliance on Dutch courage coupled with one of Oxford’s less-refined night time establishments, with their disadvantages of being public, rarely memorable and, well, grimy. Challenging Oxford courtship etiquette in this way leaves one feeling empowered, delightfully devious and is guaranteed to put a spring in your step.
Still not persuaded? What if I were to tell you that you biologically need Valentine’s Day? At this time of year, your body will appreciate the adrenaline rush that accompanies impulsive pidgery as much as the object of your affection will value the frisson of its tantalising mystery; an excellent symbiosis to counter dull weather and the lethargy that comes with it. The cerebral exercise of crafting a suggestive missive is as entertaining for author and reader and must be the tonic to the impending fifth week blues.
If you are still sceptical about Valentine’s, this week should be about getting in touch with your inner Latin American; certain Latin American countries know February 14th as ‘DÃa del Amor y la Amistad’ or ‘DÃa del CariÃ±o’, Day of Love and Friendship, or Affection Day and if you were to find yourself in Mexico or Puerto Rico on Tuesday, you might come across people performing small acts of appreciation for their friends. It might seem a little unconventional, but with a calendrical glut of family-oriented festivals, why not put one aside for friendship? How often do you take a moment to appreciate the extraordinary people who, without blood-related obligation or the commitment of romantic entanglement, still, unflaggingly, put up with you? Playing the friendship card on Valentine’s Day is neither a cop out nor an anti-Valentine’s statement but a crystallisation of the ethos of the day, displaying an appreciation for the presence of an individual in your life, strangers, sidekicks and soul mates alike.