For Jillian Schwiep ’13, Valentine’s Day used to be one her favorite days of the year. She recalls being in elementary school, picking out boxes of SpongeBob or Hello Kitty cards for the other kids at school and addressing them to various friends (and enemies, because back then you had to pretend to like everyone). The best part for her, though, was the heart-embellished socks and red bracelets that her mom gave her on Valentine’s Day. She remembers bragging about her Valentine Day’s spoils to her friends, which usually generated the desired levels of envy from them. Then one year when Jillian found out that boys were supposed to give you presents, and that if your mom gave them to you, it meant no boys liked you.
For some, Valentine’s Day has befuddled, disappointed – or even enraged – from an early age. Is it supposed to be reserved for couples only? Are the rest of us single people allowed to enjoy it as well?
I know for sure what Valentine’s Day was all about in high school, and so does Rachel Durrant ’13, who recalled the all-too familiar scene of red rose sales at her local high. “A few lucky giggling girls would get roses from their boyfriends during homeroom, and you’d envy their lives, which seemed like they were straight out of High School Musical or 10 Things I Hate About You,” Durrant said. “For some reason, having one from your friend wasn’t enough; you still felt like crap.”
These days, as a mere first-year student, I have no idea if Valentine’s Day at Williams – at “college” – will boggle my mind or blow as usual, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will do the later. It seems to me that most of the kids I know at this intimate college, which supposedly has an incredibly high alumni marriage statistic, are not in relationships. So what do most people in the cozy purple bubble think about Valentine’s Day?
It seems like it is often single women who raise their voices the most loudly against the Valentine’s Day, so I wondered what the perspective of a male in a relationship would have to offer. The story told by David Rapp ’13 about a past Valentine’s Day with his then-serious girlfriend sounded more like a horror story than a romance. “One time I made this awesome apple desert for my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day,” Rapp said. “But while she was eating it, she nervously asked me if there were any apples in it … that’s when I remembered she was allergic to apples.” Bad turned to worse when his girlfriend’s throat swelled and she threw up. “I felt awful,” Rapp admitted. When asked if he was now a Valentine’s Day hater, Rapp laughed. “Yeah, it’s possible.”
Maya Harakawa ’12, a collected young woman, offered a levelheaded view of Valentine’s Day that was like a breath of fresh air. Harakawa laughed when asked if she had a valentine this year, saying “Absolutely not.” Her dislike of Valentine’s Day, however, stems not from pining romantic feelings. Instead, she doesn’t like the deeper ideas that Valentine’s Day promotes: “If you’re not in a couple, the day makes you feel like you should be in one. If you’re in a couple, it promotes a very narrow type of consumer-driven relationship.” Her plans for the night, attending The Vagina Monologues and wearing black, are downright awesome (though I admit the black is a bit extreme). Her words of wisdom for Valentine’s Day revelers: “If you’re going to partake in Valentine’s Day, carnations are not the way to go. They are the worst flowers ever. I don’t know why anyone would want them.”
Another individual, Talia Mizikovsky ’12, whose romantic involvement with a significant other is unclear, faced Valentine’s Day with a torrent of pure irrational emotion in a manner quite similar to the way that I do. “It sucks. Are you going to quote me? I don’t want to be the bitter hag who says Valentine’s Day sucks. But it sucks.” Her experience with Valentine’s Day at Williams? “They sell lots of shit for it,” Mizikovsky said. “Last year we got free condoms and chocolate. That was nice. Safe sex or something.”
Through my anxious investigations, I found that quite a few Williams students, whether coupled or not, feel the same way that I do about Valentine’s Day. If many of us are weary of the same flowers, powder poufs, warm colors and candy boxes, I propose a change. Instead of sitting around and whining about how we hate or dread the day, we should just do something nice for our friends and peers … think handmade cards and Haiti truffles.
Additional reporting by Jillian Schwiep ‘13, Contributing Writer