I am not ashamed to admit it: I love Valentine's Day. And no, I don't mean the non-commercial, organic, too-hip-for-love-songs kind of Valentine's Day where you smirk at all the silly little people and their bourgeois customs while hosting an anti-Valentine's Day Bergman Film Festival party. I love the whole, ridiculous concept-- the wilting, overpriced roses and the battery-operated greeting cards that play Elvis songs and the tacky red lace Fredrick's of Hollywood lingerie and the big Mylar balloons in the shape of puckered lips. I think Peppy le Pew had the right idea about romance. He was undaunted, overly sentimental, and absolutely sincere. We can be cool about music and art and independent films -- but let's allow ourselves to get a little goofy about love.
I know everyone likes to complain about how Valentine's Day is just another creation by retailers to force people to buy stuff they don't need. It's an event probably orchestrated by restaurant owners, florists and jewelers. Fine. I suppose all of that is true. But what I like about Valentine's Day is that it is the one day out of the year when it's okay to believe in the hyperbolic, overzealous, madcap potential of being in love. It's one day where you can declare yourself unabashedly to someone, with full societal approval and every corny trick in the book at your disposal. There's a reason Cupid shoots arrows instead of making rational speeches. Sometimes we need a bit of a shove to make a connection. Valentine's Day is that big push -- a day where the brooding guy finds the courage to hold his boom box aloft and play a love song to the girl he can't live without.
I don't know if the two people in this photo were a romantic couple or just two friends sharing a coffee break at Starbucks. But today, on Valentine's Day, I choose to believe they fell madly in love over those cappuccinos... that they spent that afternoon finding out they both liked cherry pop tarts, John Fowles novels and Miles Davis; that they each thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was overrated; that they both confessed to singing in the shower and sometimes singing cheesy 70s disco songs. I choose to believe that today, when they realized they had each emailed the other the very same Neruda poem, they both felt that happy/scared/exhilarated/anxious/wondrous/thankful feeling of being alive that comes when you realize you might be falling for someone.
Happy heart day, everyone.