Self Indulgence: The Heart of the Matter

By: Alexandra Hall

Ask anyone who doesn’t get a paycheck from FTD or Hallmark, and they’ll tell you: The creator of Valentine’s Day has his own special red velvet chaise in hell.

Fine, that may be overstating it. Not everyone agrees. Just anyone who’s ever not had a date for that evening; any woman who resents being expected to wear skimpy underwear during a Boston winter (when we’re usually at our palest and least fit); any man who chafes at ponying up more than $60 for 12 lousy roses; and everyone who despises the waxy aftertaste of Russell Stover chocolates.

Wait…. Actually, that is pretty much everyone. (Which explains the current ubiquity of Anti–Valentine’s day parties.) And let’s be honest: Even if you don’t actively detest or boycott the holiday, odds are you still know it’s pretty stupid.

I used to think so, too. It’s a useless day, and I’d rant to anyone who’d listen — boyfriends included. The last thing I need is a bunch of cheesy, sappy marketing sharks telling me I should suddenly be more in love on this particular day than any other.

And then I went and had kids.

Now, some people argue that kids don’t impede romance — or at least, that they’re also the product of romance. And besides, isn’t there something warm and fuzzy about two people having a family together, anyway?

Those people are clearly not parents. If they were, they’d know well the mind-numbingly Sisyphean cycle of constantly taking care of someone small and unreasonable with absurdist performance artist-meets-seemingly-bipolar needs. (“My sippy cup is almost halfway empty!” “This sock is hurting my ear!” “How come he got to get in the car before me?”)

Before you know it, you’re locking yourself in the bathroom just to have five minutes alone. You’re talking to complete strangers on the T just to have 3 entire minutes of conversation in which you’re not constantly interrupted. And meanwhile, you’re working harder than you ever have before to make money to… meet yet more of their needs. In short, you’re desperate for any excuse to get the hell out of the house — and to have a conversation with your spouse that’s neither about daycare pickup schedules nor about cartoon characters.

I’ll take that excuse, and gladly. Even if it comes with a box of trash-bound Russell Stovers.