Hey guys, let's think outside the drug-store quality chocolate box this Valentine's Day

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 13, 2013 

I've seen the commercial 100 times in the past month, and it never fails to leave me flabbergasted and annoyed.

It's an ad for a chocolate company in which several lugheads discuss the possible domestic ramifications of returning home on Valentine's Day without a heart-shaped box of the aforementioned confections.

One such idiot suggests he'll be sleeping in the doghouse.

Another predicts "trouble."

Another rather sweaty, wide-eyed fellow fearfully confesses he'll likely be chained to a radiator for a month and made to drink a concoction of his own blood and Hawaiian Punch if he returns home chocolate-less.

OK, not really, though that would make this stupid commercial about 1,000 percent more interesting.

But in addition to implying that women are unreasonable shrews with an insatiable, "Cathy"-like need for chocolate, this commercial reinforces a narrow, ignorant definition of manhood I have long found offensive.

It implies we are children in need of instruction and prompting to be romantic or, worse, cavemen.

Man likes woman. Woman likes chocolate. Man buys chocolate for woman. Woman eats chocolate and is happy. Man likes when woman is happy and doesn't look too carefully at Man's browsing history.

Come on. We can do better, and though we often do, commercials like these -- and Valentine's Day as a whole -- isn't doing us any favors.

Valentine's Day tells a certain demographic of men -- in this case, I'll say most men -- that it's OK if you act like an insensitive, emotionally unavailable and downright lazy fool for the rest of the year as long as on Feb. 14 you buy drug store-quality chocolate, a greeting card bearing some trite and vaguely romantic inscription and make reservations at a cheesy restaurant whose decor looks like something out of a 1950s sitcom.

It's shocking to me that, in a world as advanced as ours, we are still celebrating our grandparents' Valentine's Day.

Where's the romance? Where's the creativity?

After all, we are talking about a day dedicated to letting our loved ones know they are wanted and appreciated -- OK, cynics, and selling greeting cards -- yet it remains the "holiday" most associated with going through the motions.

This is a day when most men think, for the price of a bouquet and an overpriced steak, they can make up for being thoughtless pigs and for neglecting to remember that, for the remaining 364 days of the year, how lucky they are to have someone love and support us despite actually knowing us.

It's time for a change and in that spirit, I'm proposing a new holiday -- The Day After Valentine's Day.

OK, the name needs some work.

Henceforth, on Feb. 15, men everywhere will take a moment and write little notes to their loved ones, watch "Antiques Roadshow" if it is requested of them and try to be otherwise and genuinely thoughtful in the interest of acknowledging how lucky we are to have someone willing to go on this crazy ride with us in spite of how gross we are. And we're pretty gross.

The best part about The Day After Valentine's Day is there's no "dog house," no rock-hard candy hearts I assume are made from bone fragments and chalk, and absolutely no fat, winged archery prodigy.

Let's put Cupid out of work.

This week, in honor of The Day After Valentine's Day, a playlist comprising songs that could possibly serve as the "Jingle Bells" or "Auld Lang Syne" of our newfound holiday.

• Jose Gonzalez, “Heartbeats” — Beautiful and heart-breaking.

• Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” — A quiet song based on a simple, profoundly romantic premise.

• The Velvet Underground, “I Found a Reason” — Whether this song is about love or heroin addiction, it’s still a winner.

• George Harrison, “What Is Life” — One of my favorite love songs ever.

• Belle and Sebastian, “I’m a Cuckoo” — A song that seems to capture the silly, out-of-control, slightly nuts feeling of being in love.

• Matt Nathanson, “Suspended” — A beautiful song about being with someone who makes you feel excited to be alive.

• Stevie Wonder, “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)” — This is how I choose to think of Steve Wonder. Not as that weirdo in those Bud Light commercials.

• David Gray, “This Years Love” — A song that makes me melt every single time.

It's time Cupid figured out something else to do with his time. Like get his cholesterol checked and hop on a treadmill.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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