I'm getting in early. Today is the first day of February and Valentine's Day is a mere 14 days away. It will be the subject of many blogs over the next week or two, so I decided I would get in first and start the ball rolling.
In Australia, Valentine's Day has been criticised for years as a clever marketing ploy established by Hallmark to rake in millions of dollars every February. It often gets dismissed as American schmaltz at it's worst. Romance converted into the mighty dollar.
To be honest, that has never really bothered me. I'm all for a little bit of schmaltz - American or otherwise. And commercialism? There's no avoiding it. Let's face it, if they can commercialise sex and religion then nothing is sacred. So why not add romance to the mix?
If the truth be known, I am not a lover of Valentine's Day. Never have been. It is the least fave of the annual celebrations. Not being a particularly romantic type, it's all a little bit lost on me to be honest. Of course, past experience hasn't been particularly encouraging...
Two years ago I was single and living alone. I had spent the previous 14 years in a relationship where Valentine's Day was not a huge event on the special events calendar. And so, as my 'coupled' friends spent their evenings with their partners, gazing lovingly at each other over romantic candle-lit dinners, I was determined not to stay at home and hide myself away.
I decided to go to the cinema. On. My. Own.
Now. I love the cinema. Often I prefer to go alone. Some may baulk at this, but here's the thing... I can escape without the worry of sitting beside a friend who wriggles in their seats, who laughs outrageously ending with a loud snort, looks at me to see if I'm crying or (God forbid) talks once the movie has begun. I can eat all my popcorn without having to share, and I can decide on ANY movie and not have to worry about whether my companion is enjoying my choice. I love it.
So, back to Valentine's Day 2006. I am staging my own little one person rebellion. A single person out on Valentine's night. Night of love and romance, roses and chocolates, champagne and COUPLES!
I'm standing at the counter at the cinema, when the cashier hits me with the first blow. I ask for a single ticket and watch the confused glance over my shoulder and then the look of dismay as he realises I am telling the truth. "Are you sure?" he asks, "Just the one?"
"Yes" says me (yes - I am going to the cinema on my own, yes - I am ok with that, yes - I know you think I am a loser, but I just. don't. care.)
"Would you like an extra ticket?" he asks.
It's my time to look puzzled.
"Well, no" I reply. (Mr Perfect has not miraculously appeared beside me)
"But it's Valentine's Day..." (Alright already, I get it! I get it! Thanks for sensitivity buddy!) ..."and we have a special 'Two for the price of one' promotion."
I pause. I can't resist a bargain. A bargain to me is like an open bank to a robber, a casino to a gambler, a bar of chocolate to a chocoholic. I caaaannnnn't resist.
"You could give it to someone" he says, and he's got me.
I look around quickly. Surely there were others venturing out alone. There must be at least one other person here by themselves, and what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a free movie pass?
"Well, OK then. Sure."
I walk away from the counter, past the food bar, 2 tickets in my hand and I look around.
There is a lone male standing reading the list of movies on show. He looks OK, clean, sober, no nervous twitching, and as I sidle up to him I'm not repelled by bad body odour. So I turn to him and ask him if he wanted a free ticket.
I've gotta say, the look is priceless.
You would have thought I was a stalker.
When he asked me what the movie was and I had to admit it was a Julia Roberts pic... I was promoted to mass murderer!
Needless to say I walked away with the 2 tickets in my hand feeling rather (ever so slightly) humiliated. That promotion (and the following rejection) made me feel SO much better about being alone. Oh well.
What's a girl to do? First, I had a laugh at myself... (it disguised the flush of embarassment)... and then I bought myself the bonanza bucket of popcorn, sat it in the empty seat beside me and Julia and I celebrated Valentine's Day in style. Together.