Matt Lygoe

Valentine’s Day: Reversing those 364 guilt trips

Image: AFP

We thought he wouldn’t go to any effort this year, but ever the romantic, Matt Lygoe offers his insights on Valentine’s Day to our beloved TBS readers this Valentine’s Day…

 

Using the infallible resources of Wikipedia and a good dose of cynicism, the following is not to be cited in any subsequent chat, argument or plea deal. Take your grain of salt.

Now…

Valentine’s Day is not, as many would have you believe, a day that Hallmark conjured up to sell greeting cards to the smitten and horny. No, Valentine’s Day has its roots in (pardon the pun), and has flourished in, an environment much more sinister…

Guilt.

Sure, card makers, florists, chocolatiers(?), jewellers and the like always have and always will make a killing out of guilt, year round. But St Valentine’s Day is a special kind of guilt.

In my three minutes of Wiki-research, I barely noted that martyrdom and persecution played a big role in the time of St Valentine of Rome, and that’s a great platform to build a centuries-old guilt trip upon.

Valentinus, or “Old Love Nuts” as he was affectionately known, was sent to gaol for performing marriages for those forbidden to tie the knot. What a great guy, and his exploits should be recognised, helping people hook-up and all that. Stand by for “St Tinder Day” in years ahead.

If you feel I’m moving in a sarcastic direction and beginning to poo-poo a harmless, sweet tradition, you’d be right. But please note my sarcasm has been forged by a working life in advertising, where I have to sell all kinds of pathetic products and lame services to poor saps convinced it’s a way to get a root, avoid an ear bashing/eye gouging or a spell in the cone of silence.

In my work I use tenuous links, promote pandering and proffer some ridiculous reasons as to why people (men) should do or buy something or act someway for Valentine’s Day. Mostly, this uses an underlying theme of “If you loved them, you’d do this,” I’m sorry to say.

I didn’t choose to use guilt as a tool of trade. It’s what’s expected and it’s been going on for a lot longer than I’ve been around. But Valentine’s Day is a guilt trip and it’s time we just ticked that box.

It might be argued it’s a way of putting a rocket up those who naturally lean toward a “she’ll be right” ambivalence for 11 months and 27 days. Some blokes need that rocket, I’m not denying that.

It’s not that I, or other blokes don’t do nice things for our partners, it’s just the expectation to go above and beyond at this particular time that niggles me. I have felt great pressure to perform on Valentine’s Days past and this fires my rebellious streak – if you say I have to, then I don’t want to.

I’m pretty good at being considerate year-round and if you asked me, there are times I’m worthy of a sainthood (is Tony Abbott handing those out yet?).

I once had a girlfriend say, “Let’s not do anything on Valentine’s Day. It’s just a waste of money.”

I stupidly agreed and did nothing. It was a good week and a bit before it really “didn’t matter.”

It’s pretty simple: if a man wants to get a leg over on the big day itself, or in the foreseeable future, he’d better come up with the goods on the 14th of February.

The whole concept does in fact increase the odds of a quick knee-trembler after an expensive dinner, if he can maintain the façade of being “a romantic at heart,” that is.

Valentine’s Day has evolved to a point where the expectations of women are pretty bloody high and the enthusiasm of men, pretty bloody low. With hopes for sex aside, men don’t particularly like any kind of expectation thrust upon them, especially one where we he’ll drop a wad of cash on dinner and roses. It runs a close second to paying our car rego. In advertising, that’s referred to as “a grudge purchase.”

I know we shouldn’t begrudge doing something nice, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a conversation with their partner about how lame the whole concept is and agreed to “give it miss”…only for the “better to be safe than sorry” guilt to kick in and perform expensive romantic gestures anyway (just when I thought I was out, it pulled me back in).

Note extremely well: I’m not blaming women. They didn’t get together and decide to amp up the guilt-o-metre. It seems to be some kind preordained fate we all must accept. A fate forged centuries ago and now aided and abetted by florists, restaurants and pretty much any business with enough front to jump on the band wagon. “Show how much you love her with this exquisite set of Hello Kitty mud flaps”.

While touted as a romantic, “couples in love” celebration, it is definitely biased toward women in the “who gets what” stakes, but I’m not resentful. Really. Women would be silly to give up such a free kick. I wouldn’t. I’d milk it dry.

The poor girls even seem to have to endure a kind of peer group pressure. I mean, what woman wants to hear about the things their friends received while not able to compare some flowery, chocolatey, sparkly bounty? I would never want my partner to feel left out like that.

It might be argued it’s a way of putting a rocket up those who naturally lean toward a “she’ll be right” ambivalence for 11 months and 27 days. Some blokes need that rocket, I’m not denying that.

Blokes on the other hand. Well, I’ve never heard one bloke say to another, “so, what did she give you?”…and if I did hear that, I’d probably interrupt with a bitchy rant about how under-appreciated I felt upon receipt of my “better living, motivational cook book.”

“Does she think I’m fat/lazy/intellectually deficient/fashion unaware?”…even though she’d be spot on, on all counts. (BTW, does my head look big in this?)

Above all else and like any other day, blokes hope to get a leg over on Valentine’s Day and the whole concept does in fact increase the odds of a quick knee-trembler after an expensive dinner, if he can maintain the façade of being “a romantic at heart,” that is.

I’m not immune and I’m not tough. I will be doing “the Valentine’s thing”…but there are a lot of days throughout the year where I’ll be using flowers, chockies and anything else I can think of, to stay in the good books and have my fingers crossed it’ll lead to some sweet lovin’.

Guilty as charged.

xx

 

Matt Lygoe

Raised somewhere between Dubbo and Bourke NSW, somewhere between low and middle-class household. A butcher by trade (it was that or sheep shearing at Year 10’s end), before turning my hand to commercial radio (as butchers so often do). In 22 years, I have been kicked off the air, reported on stranded whales and written comedy skits, in between producing roughly 50,000 radio ads, a tally to which I’m still adding. One cute child, one partner (hoping for more) who has two bigger, much uglier, but lovely, teenage offspring.

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One Comment;

  1. Steve said:

    So I gave this broad a card and flowers this morning and she just said ‘i ony like you as a friend’ stupid women lol

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