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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

February 14, Valentine’s Day, has two different meaning for a man and a woman in love relationship. For the woman, it is the day she paints pink in her calendar in its anticipation in great fervour. It is her day, much more than March 8, the Women’s Day—March 8 is for all the single ladies. It is even more special than anniversary in that it is the special day she shows off her love to the female population. Valentine’s Day is the day she desires to bloom fully in the garden of flowers. There is a breed of them who say, in that female affectedness, “In our relationship, everyday is Valentine’s Day,” but do not buy any of that, for there is no day pinker than this day in their calendar.

Eritrean couple sharing a kiss - (credit Robel A.)
The same cannot be said about us, the men. Danger red is the colour we paint the day in our calendar. We live everyday of our lives dreading it because this is the day our women have their heads in the clouds and find our down-to-earth nature intolerable. Infected by the fever called romanticism from the soap opera, romantic lyrics, and romance novels they feed on gluttonously, our love birds expect us to dance to the tune of their romantic ideals. They wish to be Juliet, Cinderella, or Rose in Titanic and demand that we be as sensitive, tender, gallant, caring, loving, and carefree as Romeo or Jack. This romantic streak in them remains dormant all year round, but erupts like volcano on the lover’s day. This is when our valentines dream that a god mother change a pumpkin into a golden carriage, mice into horses, a rat into a coachman, and lizards into footmen and be taken unto the presence of their prince charming with whom she spends magical time in the fairy garden of love. Thus they grow horns of romanticism and give you the most traumatic date of your life. This is the day even the most unbelieving of men get on their knees and pray to come through it in one piece.

The nightmares of the event begin long before the day. The sponsorship of the night of love falls on our manly shoulders. The expense, as every adult man who has ever been on Valentine Date harrowingly knows, is stupendous. It is much more expensive than holding ngdet. Valentine’s Day is all about extravaganza; that is its charm. You have to cover for the expensive red flower, Valentine’s gift, tender three course meals in expensive restaurant, delicate wine to wash off the food, taxi to and fro, a handsome tip for the waitress who gives you royal treatment. This is the minimal ritual. Anything less than this is an unforgivable slight on St Valentine and will earn you the dismay of Cupid who has every power to ruin your evening or your relationship by turning your valentine against you. Even our date guide books instruct us that being ‘miserly’ is unromantic and a big turn-off to the fair sex. Valentine’s Day is certainly not the day you exhibit any sign of miserliness. What you have to do is be ‘a sweet heart’ and send your sweaty hands to your wallet and pay. Our valentines are too happy to let us be men for once. To meet the expense, you have to practically start saving from February 15 for the next Valentine’s Day and that too without overly deducing from the expenses of the usual dates. There is only one other way around this. You can tell your belle that you were going out of town for work or your cousin from your village died. Then, go to your friend in another town or stay in a hotel—your expense won’t be a fifth of what you would squander if you spend Valentine day with your love. Not all of us have the courage to look into those enthralling eyes of our loved ones and lie to them though, do we?

The second heart ache is the choice of the setting for your special date. It should be unique—taking her to pastry shop and treating her to croissant and cappuccino is out of the questions unless you intend on bringing upon yourself third world war. That much you know. What most of us do not know, however, is that we are expected to conjure up an open garden, with the green, succulent grass trimmed short, fragrant roses strewn all over them; a cute round table in the middle of the garden upon which there are a lone candelabrum with a lit candle and expensive wine; perched on each side are love chairs. She desires the sky to be dim, the moon distant and quiet. You are expected to be the perfect event planner—and apparently a magician too—and arrange every detail to her taste including the weather and lighting of the sky. However, more often than not, the best setting you can conjure up is a respectable local restaurant. Her reaction when she learns your rendezvous is disappointment—she finds it repulsive in comparison with the picture of the garden of love in her fantastical mind. “Hmm” she says to herself, “he has the imagination of a hen”.

The sweet hearts come late, as all queens do, shimmering—that is all expected of them: present themselves in all their glamour. At the table, you get on your feet at the sight of her coming towards your seat, beaming with pride at how well the place has been decorated for the occasion. Your heart flutters to see how stunning she looks, her face as smooth as a peeled egg, hair loose across her shoulders, and the soft, bright dress hugging her exquisite figure.

“Babe, you look—dazzling,” you exclaim earnestly as you help her to her seat.

She sizes you up in one glance, as she crumples on her sit, thinking, “Wish I could say the same about you”. She finds fault with how you look. You face, though it is the same face she was attracted to if not fell in love with, suddenly becomes irksome. It does not look anything like the face that several make-up artists have polished as in her soap operas. She steals a disgusted look upon the third rate garments you have thrown on yourself. “The nerve of this simpleton, calling me to this drab place looking like scarecrow” she mutters to herself avoiding your searching eyes. 

Then there is the strain of playing the role of sensitive, tender, caring and gallant man. Gone are the good old days when a knight in shining armour was attractive to women. In stead, our love birds desire us to resemble the effeminate characters of the soap operas and romance novels in every aspect. First, you have to let her be the centre of your attention, your prima ballerina. —‘Can’t you keep all your fickle attention on me for just one evening” her eyes scream. You have to attend to her every whim, or else she would say, “He does not have a single romantic bone in his entire body”. (“Bone of my bones,” you hear yourself saying, “but you are the romantic bone that God took away from my rib out of which your Highness was made”) She expects nothing less than a hundred per cent presence with her. This, her eyes seem to warn you, is your last chance of making up for spoiling the Valentine’s Day thus far with your unimaginativeness and lack of class. Any slip up is deadly. In the Valentine’s Day the year before last, I learned this the hard way. We were at one corner of this restaurant and in front of us a television was on in mute streaming news. I had all my attention upon my valentine until the sports news came. I perked up when I saw Barcelona FC on the screen. I am a Barcelona fan and I was less happy that they had one of their decisive matches on this day when I would not be able to watch it (Don’t these men have their women to tend to?). I was dying to know how they fared though. I struggled to keep my attention on her while stealing surreptitious look towards the television screen. And then, I jerked up in disbelief when they conceded a second goal. And that was that. I finished off the rueful evening. She looked hurt and put up this martyred face. I had to spend the rest of the evening cajoling her, but I was too little too late. But why does it bother us too much if our girls are upset? Being in love with them is being captive to their beauty, and the purpose of our lives becomes keeping these enchanting, feminine smiles on their pretty faces; their absence, let alone their replacement by glum, downcast, hurt looks unsettles us. Didn’t two kingdoms go into bloody war for the smile of a certain Helen? And I should add the fear of the dreaded silent treatment, the cold war, impels us to dance to their tune.

Your love talk, the sweet nothing, has to be elevated to meet the grandeur of the occasion. Your sweet heart wishes to just entwine fingers of both hands together in front of her and tilt her head on them and just listen to your words of love and romance. She wants you to speak to her in flowery languages such as calling her ‘a red, red rose’ or ‘my dove’, or say ‘I see Heaven when I look into your eyes’, ‘your voice is like the melody of the rain’, ‘I crave you like the air I breathe’, ‘I love you like a fat kid loves cake’, or ‘I am addicted to the scent of your body’. All these love talks that are dear to women’s hearts are contrived over long hours by persons who have nothing better to do than seek to corrupt their hearts. The result is, all our efforts of treating her to loving conversation, no matter how hard you wrack our simple mind, fall short of their expectations. In the last Valentine day, I earnestly wanted to be different, romantic and give her the lovey dovey talk she yearned. I said in the sweetest voice I could muster, “Babe, you remind me of a pet I had, a pussy cat. You look like her—you have her beautiful eyes. I feel like you are her reincarnated.” She was offended. She acted all surly. I ruined the most important night of our life.

Thus the harrowing experience plays out every year. At the end of the evening, despite all your sacrifices and efforts, you plod back home, emotionally bruised and drained, and muttering the sentiment that everyman from Adam to us often said, “Women, you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them”.

Gebriel Alazar Tesfatsion

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Valentine’s Day Reviewed by Admin on 9:54 AM Rating: 5

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