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I Hate Valentine’s Day

The-best-top-desktop-roses-wallpapers-hd-rose-wallpaper-10-close-up-red-roseI know it may come as a shocker that a SciFi geek, such as myself, might have an issue with a holiday about love (oh, I’ll get to that).  But I absolutely loathe Valentine’s Day.  I am not so sure when it started, but I think it came about after college.  Perhaps I can blame my ex for that (I kid, so relax people).  Every February comes around and I have deal with this crap again.  Normally I would just rant to my wife about it, she’d say, “Yes, hon” and then I’d go buy her something anyway.  But I have a blog now, so that means I can rant to you this year.

First of all, I do have fond memories of Valentine’s day as a child.  So I don’t ruin it for my kids.  After all, there was parties at school.  A bag full of Valentine’s Cards.  I remember going through every Valentine in the box to find the right one, that said all the right things, to the cutest girl of the class.  Of course she didn’t notice, the cute girls rarely notice us SciFi guys.  But it was fun.  Plus, I have an addiction to those candy hearts with the little sayings on them.  I don’t know why, because they really are the candy corn of Valentine’s Day.  But I do love them.

As I got a bit older, and realized that I was alone for Valentine’s day, I began to fester a bit of deep hatred for it.  You see, in junior high and my first two years of high school, I was fairly certain I would be alone for the rest of my life.  You know, in that typical preteen drama fashion.  Then I met a great woman that I dated for three years.  So, of course, for those three years I thought Valentine’s Day was great.  Then she broke my heart (she is still a great person), and I got all “I’ll never love again” on myself.

When I met my wife and started dating her, I realized pretty quick that there was something important about a lasting relationship.  You have to show that person you care all the time.  Randomly, I try to do something nice for my wife.  I’ll buy her something special for dinner.  I’ll pick her up a candy bar.  I’ll get her a little trinket.  I do these all year round to show my wife I care.  I don’t need one day a year to do it.  And I think that was when the true commercialism (and my cynicism) of the holiday kicked in.

Screw this damned holiday.  That is what I have to say.  I like to think that one of the reasons my little candy bar on a random Tuesday means so much to my wife, is because it was unexpected.  There was no societal obligation to buy her something to profess my love to her.  I just did it.  I don’t need a heart shaped box of chocolates to show my wife I care, a Snickers bar does the trick.  My wife doesn’t need flowers, she just wants a Coke.

I can hear some of you getting ready to argue with me here.  I hear you saying, “But just because you participate in Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to stop the little things.”  Well, hold on.  There is more to this hatred that just the commercialism.

The logic of it is flawed too.  What is so special about February 14th anyway?  To borrow from Lewis Black’s bit, it is the height of flu season.  And why do we need to worry about love now.  I am fairly certain that spring, or summer, would be a nicer time to celebrate my love.

Not let me dig a little bit deeper on this.  Get a little personal.  I am not a handsome man, and now I am a fat man on top of it.  Nothing reminds me more, about how few people have ever found me attractive, as this holiday does.  Even now, approaching ten years married, this holiday reminds me of a deep scar to my self esteem that will likely never go away.  I’ve had two women ever find me attractive, and I sometimes wonder if they really do.  And of course now that I am married, no woman will ever tell me I am good looking.  They just won’t, because I am not.

Anyway, self loathing aside, this holiday is a reminder for guys like me (single or taken) that we are not what society has deemed an attractive person.  And it isn’t just men.  Women too, if not more so, are put to this gauntlet of self image issues.  And Valentine’s Day plays right into that.  It is complete bull shit.  And then there are all these self doubts that pop up from this holiday.  For what?  So they can sell a few greeting cards?

You know why Valentine’s Day is a success?  Dirt bags.  These dirt bags that treat their significant other like shit all year round.  But once a year they take them out to a nice place, get them gifts, and treat them like they should have been treated all year.  That’s why all these roadside stands pop up.  They aren’t for the people like me.  They are for the douche bag who is coming home from work and goes, “Oh fuck its Valentine’s Day.” And buys the biggest stuffed bear, a huge box of chocolates, and a bunch of balloons and shows up to the house with a last minute reservation at Applebees.

So I say we go back to having a big party with your friends.  You give them all valentines.  And the hell with this damn holiday.

Disclaimer: I did send my wife I nice card, some chocolate, and a stuffed dog. I may hate the holiday, but I’m not stupid.


Weddings (and my thoughts on romance in writing)

What is it about weddings that gets everyone so worked up?  Is it the romance in the the air?  Is it the idea of a new couple starting a life adventure together?  Is it witnessing young love?  Or is it the free food?  I don’t know.  I am hardly an expert on romantic endeavors, which is why I write Speculative Fiction.

That was was thinking yesterday, as I attended my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding vows renewal.  I didn’t know wedding vows had an expiration date.  I will be checking the back of my marriage license later to make sure.  Anyway, it was good fun with a small ceremony, toasts, lunch, desert, music and dancing.  And while typically I don’t enjoy wedding ceremonies, this one was just how I like them – short.

The celebration of love and a new life together is exactly what weddings are all about.  Whether it is a small wedding in the gardens followed by a backyard reception (like mine was), or a full blown out spectacle, it should be about love.  Try not to get wrapped up in costs and one-uping other weddings.  Weddings should be about the couple and not about money.

Now to tie this into writing…

There is a great running gag that we fans of Speculative Fiction know little about romance, I even made such a joke in my opening paragraph.  It seems to be thought that we are all inept in matters of love and women.  But, I think its just another stereotype that has been circulated out there so much it is accepted as fact.

Some of the most romantic scenes I have read come from Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.  Scenes which truly create the feeling of love between the two characters.  Realistic scenes that evoke emotions I have actually felt.  Perhaps it ties into good character development.  I care about these characters so when I see them in love, I feel it too.  Or perhaps we Sci Fi writers are more refined in the art of love then we are given credit for.  I think it is a little bit of both.

Creating a believable romance scene takes time.  Many confuse romance with sex, and this has to do with the least romantic of all the genres…  Romance.  I recognize that as my opinion, but I don’t find romance novels the least bit romantic.  They are hardly real, believable, and the characterization if often very shallow.  They run from one sex scene to another. They feature bare chested men with unrealistic muscles sweeping young scantly clad women off their feet.  Often rescuing the woman from an evil man who some how hurts her with words or violence.  I don’t find the situations they present realistic and I could care less about their characters.  I realize this is my opinion, but this is also my blog.

So, what makes a believable romance scene?  It is not the scenery, its the characters.  Why do strong characters have better romance scenes?  Because it mimics real life.  I watched a guy on TV propose to his girlfriend during a kitchen renovation.  I can guarantee that was the most romantic experience for that woman, not because of  scene (it was a demolished kitchen) but because it was thought of by him and meant something to her.

Think about all the romance you have experience in your life…. was it ever really the scene?  Even if it was a moonlit beach on white stallions, was it really the scene?  Likely not.  It was romantic to you because it was shared with your romantic partner.

The same is true of books.  Strong characterization will lead to the feeling of romance between your characters simply because I (the reader) know your characters so well.  The romance will come to me because I am sharing this experience with your characters and I care about them.  The scene, the circumstance, and the rest will fall in place.

So you have strong characters, what’s next?  That is really up to the characters, isn’t it?

So as I enjoyed the romantic event of my Aunt and Uncle renewing their vows after 25 years of marriage, I thought of all this.  After all the event was romantic because I knew the characters and I love them.