Feb 062012
Authors: Matt Miller

You hate it, you hate the day and everything it represents –– couples, chocolate, loneliness, Hallmark-created love –– but me, I love Valentine’s day. On Feb. 14 people throw me parties, I get presents, and girls pick up the check at dinner.

The holiday was created to sell bears, to sell flowers, to sell greeting cards, but that same day that the suits in an office building decided to dedicate a day to one of the lesser known Christian martyrs happens the same day I was born.

I was born 22 years ago on Valentine’s Day, and ever since then I have never truly understood what the day actually means.

When I came screaming into this world, your parents were worried about where to go to dinner, what flashy piece of jewelry they were going to give. But mine were worried about their second child, the Valentine’s baby. And ever since that day, I have been somewhat of an anomaly, a freak, an outsider, never to understand the unhappiness/happiness that this “holiday” brings.

My first memories of Valentine’s Day were (unintentionally) of myself. I was in elementary school, and there was always a party on my birthday –– one that excused us from spelling, addition and history. We would spend the day giving innocent cards and candy to our classmates. For me, though, the party didn’t end at school because, when I got home, I had cake and presents waiting for me.

And until the unholy barrage of high school and puberty hit, my birthday was a carefree, jovial experience that is now only youthful memory.

Eventually, my friends and I all dropped like flies into the waiting arms of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and my birthday was all but forgotten. Instead of the presents, the parties and the candy to worry about –– I had to worry about girls.

What if I didn’t have a girlfriend? If I did, what would I get her? I would be alone on Valentine’s Day and my birthday at the same time. Could life be any worse?

This is where the real problems started, and ever since, my Valentine’s birthday has revolved around balancing the two conflicting ideas of selfless expressions of love and selfish celebrations of one’s own existence.

The first problem I encountered: Who pays for the Valentine’s Day dinner? Me or the girl?

Over the years this has taken some time to perfect. The first time I took a girl out I paid for dinner, only to be called an idiot by friends and family. Then I started dating a girl who refused to let me pay for anything on my birthday. So when the check came, she picked it up.

You could not imagine the dirty looks waiters gave me when the girl paid for our romantic Valentine’s dinner.

So I have settled with this solution: If the girl insists on paying for the meal, I will have her discretely slip me cash under the table, and I will carry out the payment process with the waiter. However, I will always offer to pay and/or split the bill with her.

My next problem I encountered: what to do on my birthday?

Like anyone else, I would like to go out with friends or have a birthday party, but in my situation it’s not so simple. First I have my date to think about. Will she want to spend quality time with me for Valentine’s Day and not go out partying? I also have to think about my friends. I don’t want them to feel obligated to hang out with me and risk the wrath of their significant other for ruining a romantic night.

The solution for this problem is that it depends. So far I’m lucky enough to have such great friends and Valentine’s dates that usually we go to a nice dinner as couples and then meet up later in the night as a group to celebrate my birthday. However, the size and enthusiasm of the group depends on which of my friends are in relationships and how dedicated they are to the holiday.

Then we get to the biggest question: Is it Valentine’s Day, or is it my birthday?

To the girls I take out on Feb. 14, they always insist that my birthday trumps the holiday. To my friends, it’s both ­­ –– their loyalties lie with me and also with their boyfriend or girlfriend. To my parents, the answer to the question is, without a doubt, that it’s my birthday, and I’m sure they could tell their own story about how Valentine’s Day 1989 was the last one they ever celebrated.

To me, it’s a bit different. I’ll never know what it’s like to hate or love Valentine’s Day for what it represents, and I’ll never know what it’s like to have a birthday that’s not in the shadow of a holiday. In the end birthdays are just like holidays –– just another day on the calendar.

The only perfect solution would be to become a Jehovah’s Witness –– they don’t celebrate anything, including birthdays. But I’d rather not have to go there.

News Editor Matt Miller is a senior journalism major. If you were born on Valentine’s Day, please contact him at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Official_MattM. He’ll buy you a beer for your birthday, and you and he can swap stories about your situation.

 Posted by at 3:21 pm

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