Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Lupercalia!

            Ignore the naysayers. Valentine’s Day is, quite simply, the greatest day of the year.
            Throughout elementary school, I lived to decorate shoeboxes with cutout hearts. I loved nothing more than those miniature valentines, some addressed to “Karen Cargo.” Valentines weren’t all trademarked superheroes and cartoon characters in those days; instead they would feature something like, say, kittens, with slogans like “Please PAWS to say you like me” or “Be my valentine MEOW.”
            For a grownup, Valentine’s Day is even better. There WILL BE A NICE DINNER. There WILL BE SEX. There WILL BE CHOCOLATE. These are the lush and delectable givens of the day.
            In recent years, it has been popular to deride the holiday. It seems that lonely people feel lonelier on Valentine’s Day. I’m sympathetic. Loneliness can really stink. On occasion, though, I have enjoyed being lonely, and I have particularly enjoyed experiencing that cartoonish holiday loneliness. I once bought myself a package of sliced turkey lunchmeat on Thanksgiving, and sobbed my solitary way through two turkey-on-white-bread-with-store-brand-mayo sandwiches. It was utterly luxurious.
            It hurts not to be able to forge connections, and that’s a year-round pain—but the trick with Valentine’s Day is to recognize that dinner, chocolate, and sex are all things that can be just as enjoyable alone as they can with others, provided we employ a little creativity.
            And if the name itself, “Valentine’s Day,” is too weighted to get over, call it what the Romans called it: Lupercalia, the wolf festival. The ides of February will happen whether or not we decide to note the occasion. May as well run naked through the streets, just as the Romans did 2,000 years ago, and strike everyone we see with a goatskin thong. I promise you—if you show up naked, wielding a thong, no one’s first thought will be, “Hmm, that guy looks lonely.”
            The truth is, no one is thinking that anyway. You could reserve a table for one at the nicest restaurant in town and read Sonnets from the Portuguese to yourself in a mirror, a rose stem clamped in your teeth, and no one will think you’re odd for not having a boyfriend or girlfriend (although they mind find you odd generally). The truth of the matter is that most people aren’t thinking of you at all—which is a good reason, come to think of it, to cry into a sandwich.
            My suggestion to the lonely is this: just dwell there. Watch An Affair to Remember. Eat chocolate after chocolate. Masturbate. Write a sonnet and dedicate it to yourself. Hell, cry, if it feels right.

            But Lupercalia is everyone’s holiday. Even a lone wolf ought to make the most of a chance to howl.

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