Somebody sent me a text message asking how I planned to spend my Valentine evening. Was there anybody lucky enough to have won the jackpot of being my "date" for the evening?
I told him, "No." I had no date. I was going out with my best friend --- but that is anything but a date. That was because for weeks we were planning to have a dimsum overload. So if anybody asks me how I spent Valentine night this year, it was at a Chinese restaurant in West Avenue stuffing my mouth with tons of hakaw, shrimp and quail's egg siomai.
I have nothing against Valentine's Day. Years ago, when I was in a relationship and I hummed Wilson Phillips' Hold On as if it were the National Anthem of my life, Valentine was a big schmaltzy event. After all, this was the only day of the year (aside from All Saints' Day, of course) when the price of flowers kazoom to the stratosphere (P295.00 for three roses, P1800 for a bouquet of semi-exotic blossoms wrapped in pink tissue and a lot of baby's breath sticking out, P2500 for a semi-fab arrangement of sorts that resemble something straight out of a Tim Burton greenhouse). This is the day when chocolates, heart-shaped cakes and candies seem to be the necessary armor to prepare the troops.
As early as the night of the 13th, traffic in the major thoroughfares went from bad to very bad. On Valentine's night, it was at its frantic worst. For instance, streets like Tomas Morato in Quezon City had bumper-to-bumper traffic, trickling out through the side streets that run perpendicular to the heart of
Resto Mainroad in the City of Stars. It was almost eleven o clock in the evening when I and my best friend decided to call it a night ... and the traffic had not abated. We were also trying to figure out how much business the motels were making last night ... and the night before that.
February 13 is reserved for the extra-curricular activities that do not go hand in hand with the official Valentine celebration. Not that the company kept the night before and after the Big Event was to be considered any less in value, but that sort of company adds spice to the entire romantic flare that seem to possess the population this time of the year.
A somewhat jaded friend of mine declared that Valentine is nothing more than a capitalist concoction. Two months after Christmas, there is a need to boost sales and get people all excited again to buy gifts --- whether they are Tiffany rings or bracelets --- or something as simple as a box of heart-shaped Bavarian doughnuts. What is important is to incite people to keep on spending ... and creating the reason for the frenzy.
Good enough. If you have the money (and even if you don't) and you want the excitement (if you are still capable of such), then go ahead and indulge. Spend your money on overpriced flowers, chocolates and pastries ... or, worse, dinners especially prepared to entrap lovers at large. That is your prerogative. That is your right as a citizen living in a democracy that believes in the capitalist ideals.
You can go to any given concert, hold hands, look into each other's eyes and profess eternal love ... and all the embellishments with leading the life of a Star Cinema movie. But the point of the matter is that ... it is your choice to do and nobody can tell you that you are inane, a victim of capitalist propaganda --- or that you are overdosing on Ginseng or Viagra.
I was asked once if there was a certain cut-off age when feeling kilig was already considered a criminal offense.
It was just like being asked if there was an age limit when you get away wearing skinny or carrot-cut jeans without looking ridiculous.( Regardless of how anyone perceives himself, well ... there is indeed a certain point when wearing skinny jeans can not only be a cause of shock but ... uh, a reason to feel nausea, right? The sight of anyone who has crossed that certain tolerable age limit to dress like Justin Bieber --- ok, push that a bit further --- Adam Levine --- can be the object not only of ridicule but of public stoning.) So could there possibly be an age when one is still licensed to feel the thrill creep up the spine and end in uncontrollable shivers ... without being mistaken to be suffering from Parkinson's Disease?
It all boils down to attitude, I guess. Even if it is hard to admit, when the venomous chemical reactions of romance hits you, then age, social station, economic status, degree of intelligence or even belief in God ... becomes all to secondary. Shall I make a random list of the World's Most Respectable People Turned Ridiculous All in the Name of Love? Shall I enumerate all the unspeakably stupid things that people allegedly under the influence of love's intoxication are capable of doing ... short of making public fools of themselves and mistaking this for ...uh, proof of undying love till death saves their faces? Crap!
Valentine is a good exercise. It is an excuse to be ridiculous without being branded as tacky. It gives license to mundane, unimaginative, predictable, commercial behavior ... and gift wraps these as part of a celebration. But when you come to think of it --- will a dozen red roses really express the true depth and extent of loving someone? Or a candlelight dinner? Or a box of expensive Lady Godiva chocolates? Or a Tiffany ring? I think not.
We can be practical in saying that if you love someone, you don't need to wait for one single day of the year to go out of your way to prove how much and to what great lengths you will go to prove your feelings and devotion. It should happen every single day.
And, if love were really true --- then it not be said. It should never be required to be said. It is simply felt. And experienced. And worked on ... for all the days of a lifetime chosen to be spent together.
I didn't even receive a card for Valentine. I had siomai and asado noodles instead. But the night was good. I looked at the people around Hap Chan and tried to decipher how many of these were out on a Valentine date ... and were in love. I couldn't tell. I was too engrossed with my siomai.
Besides, anyone who has to wait all the way for the 14th of February to be extra nice and sweet to his or her partner ... must not be worth a single flower for Valentine.