To be quite honest, most of us could do without this holiday. Especially since it falls directly after many relationship-straining holidays. Are we expected to reward our partners for accompanying us to Thanksgiving and Christmas? Does the champagne lobby expect us to have found true love with whomever were shared the previous New Years Eve?
But hey, it’s hard to find fault with a holiday based on love. There is pretty much no historical evidence that St. Valentine cared at all for lovers. The majority of what we have to go on comes from a passing reference in Chaucer’s "Parlement of Foules." It begins with a narrator reading Cicero and subsequently falling asleep. The dreamer then witnesses the parliamentary proceeding, whereby all the birds "Foules" chose their mates. The best guess is that this peace was composed and read on Valentine’s Day, 1383. But not even the birds could agree on their mates, and the story ends after Nature puts off any matrimonial finalizations for another year.
From its inception, Valentine’s Day has never gone as planned. Therefore, let’s pull back the pressure and hype this year. But let’s not let the occasion simply be a Sunday on an upcoming three-day weekend. By following the next couple suggestions, we too can aspire to be modern day gentlemen.
Perhaps the most traditional and by far the easiest thing you will do is reach out to the local florist. The task is as simple as a Google search, followed by a phone or online order. Note: Local florists are reliable because they work hard and keep very good calendars.
Next, you ought to get a new sports coat before the big day. This coat is not a suit or a purchase made to supplement “work clothing.” This is a novel addition to your wardrobe made particularly for the auspicious series of events to occur on Sunday the 14th. However, do keep this purchase a secret until Sunday, when the two of you have an unspecified date during which the attire is known only to be "business casual."
Besides, when you’re not looking she’s probably itemizing your closet and hoping you won’t wear that track jacket out of the house again, or wondering during which occasion she might witness the debut of your grandfather’s cufflinks. She really may appreciate the relieving addition you have made to your wardrobe.
Something simple like a PS by Paul Smith would work. The nice aspect about getting a piece from an established designer’s new line is that you can always pluck a shirt or a tie from the same label if you’re worried it won’t match your own.
Date night: You’re staying in and cooking. You have 364 days a year to jockey with others for table space. You should not be standing at the bar with drunkeorexia as you stare at other couples, waiting for a table to open. Instead, you can spend Valentine’s day calling your mother and checking in with old friends while you prepare a nice meal. And it couldn’t get simpler: lights, candles, action!
The gift: Chocolates are a good gift for the unattached. But for your sweetheart, tickets are wonderful whether they are for an upcoming film you have both been awaiting, or for a surprise early trip to Rio.
The Modern Gentleman knows a few bookish young ladies who may not have dates this Sunday. But they will be getting tickets to the 2011 five-play, New York residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the newly constructed globe theater inside the Park Avenue Armory.