So, I walk in the door today to sit
down and diligently write my column
and my editor looks at me and says,
"Is it on Valentine's Day? Because
the cover story is on Valentine's Day."
Well, I thought; I hadn't planned on
writing about Valentine's Day but, now
that they've mentioned it, I have a few
things to say about this holiday. And
I'm always in the mood to write a bitter,
hateful column anyway, so why not?
As a kid, Valentine's Day was al-
ways a monumental event in my house.
For some unexplainable reason my
mother really got into the heart thing.
She would annually construct a shrine
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ITrougkout i yeears, customs may ckange
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Fy Jams Ns a n d Mijchelle Lee Thompson
to St. Valentine complete with a huge
Valentine box, plenty of candy and
pink construction paper hearts.
My sister and I always had to dress
in cute little red and pink outfits.
(Really I hate pink and found this to
be a torture I would only endure once
a year.) ,
Now that I have matured (and this is
all in how you look at it), I find my
mother's gratuitous displays of heart
paraphernalia to be a bit obsessive. In
fact, I would go as far as to say they are
nauseating. Actually, I find the whole
holiday to be nauseating at this point.
In my current state of datelessness,
I find myself longing for a return to
elementary school days when everyone
had to give everyone else cards and
candy. It made the whole thing much
more simple. We were guaranteed at
least 15 valentines and no one had to
worry about who liked who. We put all
our petty dislikes behind us and played
nice, if even for only one day.
Even this happy childhood
memory takes on a new light upon a
little reevaluation. When it comes right
down to it, valentine exchanges
weren't as equal as it might seem. I
mean, my friends definitely got the
better cards and any boy I liked at the
time got an extra special one. Those
people who I hated always got the
ones with the characters I thought
were the worst. So much for simple.
Since I have been old enough to
date, the whole idea of day devoted to
love has kind of worn thin. I seem to
have a knack for breaking up with
people, if I happen to be dating anyone
when February hits, eitherjust before or
right after this stupid day. Not exactly a
pleasant Valentine wish, huh?
I'm sure that everyone has their
own Valentine's Day horror stories
about boyfriends who got caught out
with another woman or girlfriends
who didn't appropriately appreciate a
gift. I seem to have more than my fair
share of these tales.
For example, when I was a senior in
high school and was dating my first
serious boyfriend, he made me so mad
on the 14th that I refused to go out with
him at all. I gave the flowers I had
bought for him to my mother and he
gave me the cookies he baked for me a
few days later. But, in the end we still
were broken up in less than a week.
My freshman year here I felt so
much pressure to have a date that I went
to a fraternity date party with a total
loser. I spent the whole night talking to
* my neighbor who had also gone and
dancing the obligatory dances. Defi-
nitely a less than stellar experience.
It seems that regardless of how
often or how little one thinks about
romance or dating, once February first
rolls around, everyone's thoughts turn
to Cupid and his arrow. This seems
like an awful lot of pressure to me.
Who says that if we are single then
we suck? Obviously we have taken
the meaning of a little guy who flies
around naked shooting people with
arrows just a bit too far. Who uses
arrows now anyway. Guns are in now
Cupid, catch up. (I am not advocating
.filnn A n a t .r di h.. ttls
I sow hempseed.
Hempseed I sow.
He that loves me best,
Come after me now.
So went the verse of English maidens in
the 1700s, expressing the utter randomness of
finding a mate for a Valentine date. The young
women circled a church at midnight on the eve
of Valentine's Day, then seen as a holiday
centered on emnlovinp the fates to find lads
her home of women who put together cards
consisting of flower petals and lace. Howland's
business eventually pulled in more than
$100,000 a year - no small change in 1847.
But the mass-produced fantasies and whim-
sical greetings of Hallmark and other card
manufacturers have replaced the quaint lace
salutations of yore. In 1993, one billion valen-
tine cards were sold.
These days, ex-
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for the lasses.
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the verse is ind
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Flor is ts
a n d
Roses are not even a woman's best friend
-diamonds are. Eighty-one percent of women
reported that jewelry is a romantic gift, while
only 70 percent of men think so. Surprise.
Hey though, guys: this is college, you get
off easy. On campus, most women don't need
diamonds to be wooed - just an expensive
dinner. Say three or four courses. And some
advice for those who have found themselves
dateless for the last few years: Taco Bell isn't
the place. If that's where you went last year
and the woman broke up with you immedi-
ately thereafter, try something better this year,
like Burger King. BK is flame-broiled, and 50
percent of Americans say that a candlelight
dinner is "extremely romantic."
Or ask Lee his little about little secret. Lee
exclaimed, "I'm gonna get laid!" when asked
about his V-Day plans. Although the graduate
student doesn't actually have a girlfriend or
even a date, he said he would "get laid" by
"whoever answers the call" and in fact seemed
quite confident that he would indeed "get
But just ask a student who was identified
by his girlfriend only as "Toolbox" what he is
doing next Tuesday.
"Dinner and, you know ... a hotel or mo-
tel." Toolbox said.
"Not with me!" his apparent soon-to-be-
ex-girlfriend said as she walked off.
So on Valentine's Day c. 1995, it would
appear that some men want to have sex. An-
other shocking fact. Coincidentally enough,
medical "experts" report that hormone levels
sag in the wintry gloom, a fact lost on many
libidos and their owners.
A recent study shows that some of the
reasons sexual activity increases in college
are that students have no curfews in college
and often reside in co-ed dorms. You see ...
Marie Beauchamp, manager of Condoms
101, reports that sales of her most flexible
product more than double around Valentine's
Some students want to have sex but can't,
which doesn't necessarily distinguish Feb. 14
from any other day of the year.
"I have an exam the next day and a paper
due the day after that. My boyfriend has two
exams the next day," said LSA student
Jennette. Good luck on that poli sci and orgo,
guys. Just one of the
many inconveniences of having Valentine's
Day in the middle of the week.
But Awi, an Engineering student, says,
"Love doesn't stop for the weekdays."
Awi says his ultimate Valentine fantasy
includes finding a female friend inside his
dorm room upon returning from class, turning
down the lights except for decorative ones,
and "just cuddling."
LSA student Amanda said she's not look-
ing forward to Feb. 14 at all. "I haven't had a
boyfriend on Valentine's Day since ninth
grade! I think I should wear black ... on my
calendar I have black hearts."
Valentine's Day seems to bring out the
worst kind of vitriol among the lovelorn, who
delight in making spite of their more romantic
peers. Sue, an LSA student, and her uninvolved
hallmates were clad only in black last year, a
not-so-subtle protest against the pithy senti-
mentality of the holiday.
"We just thought (the holiday) was all
lovey-dovey," she said. "We were going
against the flow."
But this year, she swears off the statement.
Sue says she'll attend her sorority's Valentine's
Day formal - but not with a partner. Love
Amid the hubbub of day-to-day college
existence, many couples - even the diehard
romantics - find their more amorous plans
dampened by exams. It's an unpleasant reality
check. Cupid evidently isn't on the
"Who scheduled our midterms for that
week?" asked Peter, an LSA sophomore, with
a hint of disgust in his eye.
In an impersonal environment such as this,
where students are reduced to numbers look-
ing for true love in an alcoholic haze, it is
somewhat consoling to find couples finding
solace in each other - Valentine's Day and
throughout the year. And it doesn't necessar-
ily mean special plans for Feb. 14.
Staring into open textbooks and nibbling
on candy hearts, Stephanie and Eric exem-
plify the rushed romance of college life. They
haven't planned anything particular for
Valentine's Day, as the day falls in the middle
of a week of exams for both.
"Maybe next year," Stephanie sighs.
Valentine's Day is but an occasion when
romance collides with academics. It's easy -
perhaps too easy - to play the cynic, dismiss-
ing the holiday as an inflated excuse to hawk
chocolate and greeting cards in all shades
of pink. But for at least a few couples on
campus, the occasion does hold some
significance - even if that's only as
a chance to "get laid." If it works for
the birds ...
Is romance dead? You be the
Even in the days before
midterms weighed on the
minds of would-be lovers, there
were those who scoffed at the
holiday. In the late 1800s,
people bought penny dreadfuls,
which were not so complimen-
tary as the hempseed verse:
Tis all in vain your sim-
You never can incline,
°), With all your bustles, stays,
)m was ex-
b. 14, A.D.
against the law of Emperor Clausius II, who
thought single men made better soldiers.
Yet another theory holds that the Valen-
tine holiday was modeled after an ancient
Roman festival called Lupercalia, during
which men whipped women with animal hide
to make them fertile. After that, the wounded
women deposited their names in a pot, and the
whippers got to draw a name and court her.
But the earliest English records of
Valentine's Day say that the day was chosen
because that was the day birds chose their
mates, explaining all those silly winged crea-
tures on Valentine cards.
The first Valentine was sent by a
Frenchman named Charles, Duke
of Orleans. From prison,
Charles sent a rhyme of love
to his wife on Feb. 14.
The first commercial
Valentines were made in
the 1800s - before
Hallmark was around
- and were crafted by
one Kate Greenaway of
cards were brought to the -
Blame it on the floods in the Nether-
lands or poor growing conditions -just don't
blame Dolly Holeck. The manager of Univer-
sity Flower Shop says she actually cuts the
store's per-unit profit in February. Her cus-
tomers - about three-fourths of whom are
students - wouldn't tolerate being bilked,
Retailers are a little less than smitten with
the cold weather, which threatens an other-
wise bountiful Valentine's Day. Since the
holiday falls on a Tuesday, retailers expect
normal or above-normal sales: Saturday or
Sunday Valentine's Days spell disaster for
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