A bitter single's guide
to surviving Valentine's Day
By Erin Randolph
Ch 1 An introduction:
where our sympathies lie
Ch 2 I'm good enough,
I'm smart enough: treating yourself
Ch 3 Going it alone:
alternative ways to celebrate
Ch 4 Last resort:
when being alone just isn't acceptable
Ch 5 A conclusion:
if all else fails, it's only 24
1 An introduction:
where our sympathies lie
Remember when being single on
Valentine's Day was fun? Yeah,
we don't either. That's the day
when singles are made to feel
like the pariahs of society, like
they should feel guilty for not
having to endure a pain-in-the-ass
significant other. They've no
one to blame for the pee on the
seat or the food missing from
the fridge. And let's face it:
Valentine's Day is for lovers.
Period. The rest of us will spend
those 24 hours despising the people
in our lives who will inevitably
make us feel somehow incomplete
for being single.
But let's take a moment to explore
the greenback underbelly of the
third-largest retail holiday of
the year. It's estimated that
the average consumer will spend
nearly $100 this Valentine's Day
on gifts for spouses, significant
others, family members, coworkers
and friends. Some of that budget
will go toward the eight billion
disgusting, pastel "conversation
hearts" that will be made
and the 190 million Valentine's
Day cards the Greeting Card Association
estimates will be exchanged in
the United States this year. And
that excludes those cutesy cartoon
cards handed out in classrooms.
After Christmas, Valentine's Day
is the second-most-popular card-sending
occasion, and is essentially a
wet dream for candy makers, greeting
card creators and flower shop
So when it comes to parting
ways with those bucks, we don't
remember when being one-half of
a couple was fun on Valentine's
Day, either, seeing as how the
expectations on this commercial,
gift-giving holiday are always
built up to such momentous proportions
that people - OK, let's be honest
here: women - always feel let
down. But couples aren't the ones
who can't even get a table for
one at a restaurant on Valentine's
Day; they aren't the ones who
can't go to a movie without being
bombarded by hand-holding, kissing
couples; and they aren't the ones
who get a guilt trip imposed on
them for living a simpler love
life accentuated by battery-operated
aids, one-night stands or pure,
So for those who are single
this Valentine's Day, we salute
you. What follows is a guide to
help you drag your ass through
the 24 hours of flowers, chocolates,
greeting cards and lowered self-esteem.
I'm good enough, I'm smart enough:
holidays are a hard time,"
says Janella Whiteside,
relationship consultant with 2s
Company, a matchmaking service
in Des Moines. "You can go
anywhere and read articles about
how hard it is for people to be
alone around the holidays."
Though there are many online
dating services in Des Moines,
2s Company does absolutely nothing
online. Taking a more "old-fashioned"
approach, Whiteside helps match
up singles through blind dates
that are set up at local restaurants
- no last names, no photos. Though
2s Company has only been around
since October, she's already seen
a pick up in business right between
Thanksgiving and Christmas, right
after New Year's and a little
right now, just before Valentine's
"I think there is a lot
of pressure from Valentine's Day,"
Whiteside says. "I've heard
people say that they avoid it
because of that. Do something
you want to do for you, but if
you are with someone, then really
pay attention to stuff that that
person likes. If you want to do
something for Valentine's Day,
it's going to take some thought.
If you're not going to put some
thought into it, then it is just
And since Valentine's Day does
fall on a weekday this year, it
shouldn't be too hard to treat
it like any other Tuesday, perhaps
curled up on the couch in the
glow of the television.
But then again, there are plenty
of self-esteem-boosting activities
that one can partake in to help
lessen the blow of being alone.
"Do something that makes
yourself feel better," Whiteside
says. "It's one day. I probably
wouldn't suggest going out to
a restaurant or to the movies.
But go ahead and pamper yourself.
If you're a woman, treat yourself
to a massage or a spa package.
Maybe rent that movie you've been
wanting to rent."
Or do whatever it is you've
always wanted to do but never
made time for, like getting that
tattoo of your ex-boyfriend or
girlfriend's name removed from
that appendage or finally having
that bonfire to torch old photographs,
love letters and mixed tapes.
Or yes, there are more practical
indulgences, like the massage
or spa package.
Or better yet, obliterate all
thinking by organizing an anti-Valentine's
Day party with other single friends,
and drink yourself straight in
to St. Patrick's Day.
Going it alone: alternative ways
Valentine's Day is teeming with
pink and red and lace. Show your
disapproval by wearing all black.
Create a mix CD of anti-Valentine's
Day songs to listen to from your
cubicle. Nothing says "stay
away" like Guns N Roses'
"I Used to Love Her, But
I Had to Kill Her," the Joy
Division's "Love Will Tear
Us Apart" or the J. Geils
Band's "Love Stinks."
And if that isn't enough, band
together with other singles and
anti-Valentine's Day party. Spend
it watching reruns of "Temptation
Island," the low-budget reality
show from a few years ago that
essentially encouraged rabid cheating
as couples' loyalties were tested
when they were separated and asked
to live among attractive singles.
As you watch these couples' relationships
crumble under the sexual tension,
you'll all be reminded of just
how much you're not missing by
being in a relationship.
Or better yet, save yourselves
the headache of having to endure
reality TV by hosting a marathon
of films that will either keep
your mind far, far from coupledom,
or will remind you just how much
love can suck, such as ones about
cheating ("We Don't Live
Here Anymore," "Closer"),
inevitable heartache ("Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind")
or full-out blood baths ("My
The owners of the Drake-area
video rental store Best Place
recommend "Shape of Things,"
a film starring Paul Rudd, saying,
"What starts off as a witty
romantic comedy ends up as the
most brutal experiment in 'attraction'
and 'love' that we've ever seen.
Not for anyone with self-confidence
They also recommend "Alexandra's
Project," about a middle-management
worker going through the motions
of his marriage and family life.
After receiving a much-sought-after
promotion, he returns home not
to a celebration he thinks his
family may have planned, but instead
to an empty house and a tape with
a note that says, "play me."
"Anyone lucky enough to
have caught both of the January
2005 screenings of this [film]
at the Vaudeville Mews that we
had, or rented it since, knows
what an incredible gut-punch of
a film this is," says the
Best Place Ever owners. "It's
about the complete LOSS of love,
and apathy towards anyone who
could try and make said love endure.
It'll take you days to get the
phrase 'cheers dad' out of your
But then again, they also recommend
saying, "If this is your
idea of a good 'cuddle up with
the loved one and feel good about
love and life and bunnies'-type
movie, chances are you're a Nazi."
But if the Holocaust and love-lost
movies don't suit the mood, take
a slightly different approach
and watch some offbeat romance
films, like "Punch Drunk
Love," as recommended by
Cityview film critic Dan Vinson.
"See Emily Watson swoon
and Adam Sandler swear and break
stuff," Vinson says. "P.T.
Anderson's extremely offbeat love
story breaks more rules than it
follows and also features a terrific
score, a bizarro Philip Seymour
Hoffman and the strangest foreplay
banter in recent memory."
We just don't recommend watching
With the Wind" and "West
Side Story," regarded as
the top three romantic films of
all time, according to the American
Film Institute. Unless, of course,
you're into wallowing (ladies,
we're talking to you).
But if you're not content singing
the evils of Valentine's Day,
stay home and spend some time
catching up on your correspondence
with people you haven't seen in
a while, Whiteside says.
Or go out on the town. You just
might want to avoid restaurants
theaters, as the term "dinner
and a movie" has become as
ubiquitous in relationships as
"it's not you, it's me."
And if all else fails, you can
always hire a stripper.
resort: when being alone just
Despite the many benefits of
being single, there are those
who just can't stomach the thought
of being alone on Valentine's
Day. For those people, we recommend
turning to the friends who have
always been there for you (and
your stomach): Jack Daniels, Ben
and Jerry, Mr. Goodbar, Dr. Pepper
and Sara Lee. But for those not
content with spending time with
inanimate objects, there are options
for finding a last-minute date.
The first step: determine just
what it is you're looking for.
Whether it's to get laid, to make
an ex jealous, to find a lasting
relationship or to avoid the loser
tag that comes with sitting at
home on a lovers' holiday, there's
bound to be another single looking
for the same. Then, address those
If you're looking for a quick-and-easy
lay, your best bet may be a bar
where other down-and-out singles
have banded together for the night
with lowered standards and even
lower inhibitions. Or, if you're
content getting laid in the comfort
of your own home, using your broadband
and the glow of your monitor,
try an Internet chat room. If
you're looking for a more lasting
relationship, you might try the
bookstores, where other singles
have perhaps curled into a chair
with a good book.
But your best bet, says Whiteside,
is to plan ahead instead of cramming
at the last minute.
"I don't think Valentine's
Day is the day to have a first
date with someone," she says.
"The day before, perhaps
something light and easy, and
then if that went very well, then
maybe you could schedule something
for the next day."
But if a Valentine's Day first
date is unavoidable, try an activity
with a clear beginning and end,
in case your date goes south -
and we're not talking about end-of-date
"Dinner is a good place
for conversation, but it also
has a beginning and the end,"
Whiteside says. "If it's
not going well, you just have
to get through the meal. Don't
order dessert. This year, having
it be on a Tuesday night, just
say you have something to do the
next day, that you have an early
Or better yet, stay home, avoid
the trouble of having to make
up a lame excuse. Instead, make
up a story for your single friends
about the hot date you've got
all lined up. And to make it more
believable, send yourself an outrageous
bouquet of flowers to your workplace
with a fake card expressing undying
love from your imaginary beau.
Then act embarrassed, blushing
and fawning over its enormous
size. Nobody has to know you're
a loser but you - and perhaps
the flower store clerk.
A conclusion: if all else fails,
it's only 24 hours
Whiteside knows someone who received
bad jewelry once for Valentine's
Day. It was a hideous earring
and necklace set, which ultimately
reeked of a last-minute sentiment.
The couple broke up shortly after
that, and the guy approached his
ex, asking for the set back. He
actually had the balls to admit
that he'd stolen it from his mother,
and that he needed to return it
to her now that they'd broken
It's those kinds of stories
that should make people grateful
for receiving nothing at all on
But if you're into gifts and
you haven't got a significant
other to give you some, take heed,
dear friend, as Valentine's Day
only lasts 24 hours. After that,
the store shelves will still be
overflowing with candy and stuffed
animals and other lame plastic
trinkets that are only relevant
once a year. What this means to
you: deep discounts, and perhaps
an early start on next year's
meaningless Valentine's Day goods.
On top of all that, now that
the onslaught of holidays meant
to make us feel more alone - Christmas,
New Year's and Valentine's Day
- are over, you've now got nine
months to find someone to spend
next year's with. CV
An anti-Valentine's Day movie
"All the Real"
"Shape of Things"
"Capturing the Friedmans"
"Out of Sight"
"Down With Love"
Sources: Best Place Ever, Cityview
film critic Dan Vinson
An anti-Valentine's Day mixed
"Troy" - Sinêad
"Kiss Off" - The Violent
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
- Joy Division
"Prayer to God" - Shellac
"Karma" - Alicia Keys
"I'm Waking Up To Us"
- Belle & Sebastian
"Since U Been Gone"
- Kelly Clarkson
"No Children" - the
"Go Your Own Way" -
"We're Going Wrong"
"The One I Love" - R.E.M.
"I Hate You" - Frankenixon
"The Gift" - Velvet
"I Want My Baby Back"
- Jimmy Cross
"I Put a Spell on You"
- Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Zzz owner Nate Niceswanger
and his wife, Erin McBroom
Internet dating sites
Friendster.com if you're still
in grade school.
MySpace.com if you know what
Chuck Taylors are.
Match.com if you're paying off
eHarmony.com if appearances aren't
that important to you.
GayCupid.com if you're a gay
you're a lesbian.