Satire | Love after Valentine’s Day

By Anne Marie Yurik, Staff Columnist

Valentine’s Day to me is like the Olympics of love. To win the medal this year, I needed to create homemade chocolate-covered strawberries. Surely nothing says “I love you” like fruit dipped in milk chocolate unless you’re vegan, in which case that would just be a slap in the face.

I was under the impression that chocolate-covered strawberries would be such an easy gift to make, it would almost be cheating. How hard is it to melt chocolate and stick fruit in it? That question was greatly oversimplified, as I came to realize the day before Valentine’s Day.

If my life was a reality TV show — as it should be — it would start with a confessional of me hyping myself up about the gift. I would talk about how I cannot wait to ace the strawberries, and how confident I felt about the seemingly easy task. Then it would cut to me in the kitchen. I would be standing over a dented metal bowl inside an oval pot.

Steam is billowing from the gap between my lopsided cooking gear. I grab the metal bowl to stir the chocolate chips, and my physics teacher from high school wherever they are grimaces. Metal is a conductor, their voice says to me. I lunge backward from the stove shaking my hand in a vain attempt to cool it off, already irritated and less than three minutes into the whole process.

By the time it is all over, I burnt the chocolate, burnt my hand and the strawberries look like I kicked them through a pigpen. I did not look nor have the ease of the Lindt chocolatier from the commercials.

I wonder if there’s something else I can bake, something genuinely easy. The question is futile, my skills in the kitchen are eclipsed by a 12-year-old with an Easy-Bake Oven. I reluctantly give the chunky strawberries anyway, because my labor of love has to count for something.

I used to consider Valentine’s Day a capitalist venture to profit from the only thing that makes this planet bearable love. Leave it to the white men to find a way to make money off me because I have a heart. Although I still believe that Valentine’s Day is just extremely good marketing, I understand that some people want a day to celebrate all different kinds of love.

Can I blame them? I love chocolate and fondue and getting sappy gifts every once in a while. However, the stakes of Valentine’s Day are too high. Everyone wants to be couple goals and have Galentine’s and heart-shaped pizza, we’re human after all. But what happens when the event is over?

The medals have been given, the torch is blown out and the athletes have gone home. What happens next if you’re me begins a mere 24 hours later. Sure, I burnt the chocolate on my chocolate-covered strawberries, and yes, that was the only gift I had, but it’s all over now.

I kiss Valentine’s Day goodbye. I don’t miss it. I can’t give a good gift to save my life, and the only gift I really know how to give is food. I love food so much that I honestly should have spent my Valentine’s Day with it.

But it isn’t Valentine’s Day that I spend with food, it’s the day after. The CVS on Forbes Avenue can see me coming from a mile away. The day-old makeup, the Huggle, the greasy hair and the hunger that is etched into my eyes.

I spend the entire month of February thinking about the whir of the sliding, automatic doors. I imagine the warm gust of air that greets my face and ushers me inside. I deeply inhale, thinking about the way CVS would smell. Then I imagine the smell of my own breath because we’re in a pandemic, and I will wear a mask.

My eyes wander to the heart-shaped chocolate boxes, which are all marked 50% off. The day of love is gone, these heart-shaped boxes serve no purpose to CVS anymore. But to me, they’re my entire plan.

I romanticize eating chocolate. In my mind’s eye, I eat chocolate the way Elle Woods does in “Legally Blonde” I take one bite of each chocolate and then I put it back in the box. In reality it will look more like a raccoon meets a rich person’s dumpster.

My time to shine was never Valentine’s Day. I save the sappiness for maple trees. If Valentine’s Day truly is the Olympics of love, the day after is the Olympics for my lactose-intolerant body. I eat pretty much every dairy product you can think of, despite my stomach’s screams to the contrary.

Love after Valentine’s Day is love, just more accurate. As much as I could appreciate getting fondue or fancy dinners all the time, I live in South Oakland and consider buying Downy scent boosters a mental health splurge, so it’s clear to see my budget doesn’t have that kind of wiggle room.

The harsh reality is that my love is best described by the rabid look in my eye as I rummage through the different boxes that were clearly thrown onto the clearance shelf. How I look on Valentine’s Day is not my typical self. Generally speaking, my hair usually goes unbrushed, my clothes are made of stretchy material and probably look a little confused.

My love language is words of affirmation yes, I am a Virgo so stuffed bears and flowers and fancy meals are great, but not essential. Love after Valentine’s Day means sitting with me on my lumpy futon, eating the chocolates that I find gross and listening to my stomach gurgle loudly, because I am lactose intolerant after all.

Anne Marie typically writes about unapologetically doing her thing. Write to her at [email protected].

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