My not-so-funny Valentine

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My not-so-funny Valentine

February 14 isn’t in the Jewish calendar, but ignore it at your peril

One of the most quoted lines from the film Love Story is: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. Erich Segal, who wrote both the novel and the film screenplay, was Jewish. I find this amazing. Surely, as a Jewish man, he must have known that the correct phrase is: “Love means constantly having to say you’re sorry – even if you’re convinced you’re in the right”.

Valentine’s Day is a perfect example of this. A perfect example of when trying to do the right thing ends up as yet another reason for an apology. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that trying to do the right thing on Valentine’s Day is like trying to start a Seder Night on time. It’s never going to happen.

Of course, Valentine’s Day, along with Mother’s Day, which is synonymous with the Christian tradition of Mothering Sunday, shouldn’t really be celebrated by Jews, as I’m pretty sure Saint Valentine wasn’t Jewish. And Cupid definitely isn’t Jewish as Jews generally are not good at sports, especially archery. But, as with many things, like Halloween, New Year’s Eve and, let’s be honest, Christmas, we go along with it.

When I was younger, even though I knew that Valentine’s Day, along with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Siblings’ Day, Second Cousins’ Day et al are just money-making schemes dreamed up by card companies, I would succumb. By the way, in Wales we actually have our own patron saint of lovers called Saint Dwynwen, whose day is 25th January. So yet another card!

But Valentine’s Day isn’t aimed at me. At least not any more. It’s really aimed at those who are in a new blooming relationship (and yes the word ‘blooming’ can be used either way). It’s an excuse to show just how much you love your new partner by buying over-priced flowers or going to a restaurant to indulge in their ‘special’ menu (again, in this context, you can replace the word ‘special’ with ‘over-priced’). There are even some people who use Valentine’s Day as a reason to propose marriage. Sadly, I know many couples who became engaged on Valentine’s Day and are now no longer together. So, just a warning to you: try being original.

Years ago, an ex-girlfriend and I, entering our second year of dating, decided, mutually, that we would no longer buy cards or gifts for each other. On Valentine’s Day evening, she presented me with a card and a box of chocolates. I was shocked. And not only because she knew I didn’t like dark chocolates. I reminded her that we had agreed on not buying anything. She told me that she thought I was joking (I’d like to point out that at this point I wasn’t working as a professional comedian, or I would’ve been deeply insulted that my ‘jokes’ were of such a poor standard). I apologised, of course, then hurried to the local petrol station, proudly returning with a dozen roses which smelled slightly of diesel, a card with Congratulations on Passing Your Driving Test crossed out and Happy Valentine’s Day written instead, and a packet of barbecue briquettes in the shape of a heart. Oh, and why do we have to give a dozen roses? Why can’t it be just one? Is each of the twelve meant to signify one of the mistakes we made – that day?!

But I am a romantic person. I’ve even written a Romantic Comedy novel*. And when I first met my wife (who of course wasn’t my wife at the time) I also did all the clichéd things like cards, roses, dinner etc. One year I even bought sexy underwear. She didn’t really appreciate this, so the following year I bought some for her instead. This card/ flower-buying continued into the first couple of years of marriage until I realised that buying a card that stated “To my Wife on Valentine’s Day” and then putting a question mark as a signature was a tad pointless. So I stopped. And I’m not sure if I’m a schnorrer or not (my wife says “yes”) but, very much like at Christmas, I don’t understand why anyone would buy an expensive gift for someone, knowing full well that the price will be reduced the following day?!

So I do still buy my wife Valentine’s Day flowers, but I now buy them on the 15th and write this little verse:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

These bunches were half price

So I bought you two.

See, romance isn’t dead. Happy Valentine’s Day.


*Bennett Arron is the author of The Girl from the Discotheque, available from Amazon. 20% of all sales go to Dementia UK.






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