Every time I open my diary, the bold print of ‘14th February’, emerging out of the jumble of etched-in lecture times and meeting dates, looms more darkly and ominously. You might call me a bit of a love-scrooge, but I struggle to see Valentine’s Day as anything other than a socially constructed, commercial enterprise, designed for the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s, who for one day in the year are permitted to raise the prices of their gift-boxed chocolates and sickly red roses to stratospheric heights. Hollywood film-makers get to release a god-awful rom-com which will somehow become the highest grossing film in the weekend’s box office, and all the loved-up couples will assemble in a boat of mutual smugness which, let’s face it, will crash into the iceberg of reality and sink like the Titanic; the artificial edifice of their ship-shape and fulfilled lives destined to smash into a million pieces…
And yet the cupids of Valentine’s Day continue to puppeteer us year-on-year, pulling on the strings that will make us reach deep into our pockets to all splurge at once on uniformly heart-shaped chocolate and red roses (regardless of whether your partner actually likes roses), which will be given to our loved ones along with cards claiming that they’re ‘irreplaceable’ and ‘one-in-a-million’. And although they might give off an impression of apathy towards the tradition, for many guys struggling to meet these deeply ingrained expectations on a student budget, the pressure can rival that of the ten minutes leading up to an essay deadline.
But for the majority, Valentine’s Day, or more fittingly, ‘Singles Awareness’ Day, acts as an unwelcome microscope on their single status and spiritual isolation. On this day, the singletons amongst us will also inevitably subscribe to the polarized Valentine’s rituals that have entered the zeitgeist, and spend the night either drowning our sorrows at the college bar, or sobbing into an empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food- the gradual exodus of chocolate fish metaphorically reminding us that there actually aren’t ‘plenty more fish in the sea’.
However, single needn’t be synonymous for ‘alone’, and, although I know that I would happily choose ice cream and netflix in my pj’s over having sombody’s arm lumbered weightily over me at the cinema whilst watching a cringe-worthy romance, there are plenty of alternative things you could be doing that will not place you in the path of smug couples, rather than chugging down a bottle of wine solo and re-enacting Bridget Jones’ rendition of ‘All by myself’ into your hairbrush.
- If you wanted to try something a little bit different, you could rally a group of friends together for a dance at the Ceilidh band’s ‘Un-Valentine’s Day’ event at The Catholic Chaplaincy! Fb event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/241813792666418/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
- Experience the Ashmolean after hours and take part in the creative workshops at their LiveFridays event. More info here: http://www.ashmolean.org/livefriday/
- Or, if you intend to watch Bridget Jones whilst eating Chinese take-away and drinking wine, a less depressing means of doing so might be to watch it in the company of fellow mopers at the Oxford Union, where it’ll be screening from 8.30pm.
But then again, you could simply treat this Friday as you would any other and dance away your stress and sorrows at Wahoo- you never know, you might even get whisked away for a spontaneous, romantic meal at Hassan’s!