Scottie thinks on the pressures of Valentine’s Day after going to a pre-Valentine’s party.
Valentine’s Day always presents a dilemma for people. If you’re in a relationship, the pressure of the entire Western world is upon you to be as romantic as possible. If you’re single, you’re going to resent every couple you see in the run up to the fateful day. If not, you’ll probably try to convince yourself that it’s all a corporate shambles of a marketing campaign, and that you’re perfectly fine as a singleton.
Even if you are happily single, Valentine’s Day and the hype that surrounds it are sure to make you question that. The culture around it suggests that if you’re not with someone there’s something wrong with you. Why would you not want to have a romantic candlelit dinner with someone you’re mad about, before going home to a bed covered with rose petals? Even if people have different ideas of what is deemed romantic, you’re made believe that while everyone else in the world is loved up, you have a night of ice-cream for one and reality TV planned for February 14.
With that, I loved the recent idea a friend had to throw a “pre-Valentine’s” party at his apartment. The lead up to it caught me by surprise though. I was preparing myself as if I were going on a first date; shaved, showered and hair freshly cut, with my best clothes ready. In some ways, I thought, it was like a first date – I was about to make a first impression to an apartment full of single guys. The opening line to the event was “bring a friend”, which saved me from those initial awkward moments when you go to a party and don’t know who to talk to. My friend & I were among the first to arrive, which meant that we were able to get to know the other guests well enough. So far, so good.
Twenty-something guys turned up, with two token fag-hags for good measure. The music, drink and banter was flowing in true Dublin style, and everyone had a brilliant time. We all chatted about everything from the rugby game between Ireland and England (the result of which we won’t speak of!) to a DJ randomly explaining to me which drugs were popular on each different music scene! I wouldn’t be able to confirm who paired off with whom, but it did provide a last chance for any hopeless romantics. I was a bit cynical of it at first, to be honest. I thought that if those who came to the party knew each other (as they were bound to) then everyone would pair off into groups. That’s exactly what happened; the sporty guys huddled around each other (yes, sporty gays – imagine!) and the smokers stayed by the window. I was left with the friend I arrived with, and occasionally chatted to the host, his flatmate and one of the football players.
One guy really surprised me, though. Tall and pretty good-looking, he was chatting away with the sports crowd, even though there was a different air to him. If the other lads were more like the typical Dublin ‘blokes,’ this one was a bit more sophisticated; the type who you’d expect to see at a launch event or on his way to the theatre. He did the most unexpected thing ever by confidently coming over and striking up a conversation with me and my friend. He was neither drunk nor shy, and almost American in how forward he was. I didn’t spend too much time with him, as I excused myself to get a drink before another friend came over to me, but that was okay as I wasn’t overly enamoured with Mister Confident. Kudos to him, though; he had the courage to do sober what it would take others five pints to do.
The party came and went, and I was just as single by the end of the night as when I had arrived. With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, I can look at it in a way that doesn’t make me panic; I’ve just turned 25 and I’m single. No pressure, no expectations … in fact, I’ve a clean slate. No more running around after guys who are only half-bothered with you. No more lowering my standards, or thinking the next guy to take notice of me is the only man who ever will. No more pandering to any other guy for some deluded desire to be wanted, while stupidly ignoring those who do want you in their lives. In other words, I’m willing to give myself a bit of TLC this Valentine’s (minds out of the gutter, gentlemen). I’ll do what makes me happy, and focus on my own needs because let’s face it; boyfriends usually get it so wrong when it comes to romance.
So, single readers of Polari; treat yourself to a romantic night in as you’d plan for a partner, just without the awkward second placemat on the dinner table. Light a few candles and put on some music if you like, or instead, go out with your friends (who aren’t shacked up) and laugh at being the next generation of Bridget Jones.
Besides, who really wants to be pining for Mister Darcy?
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick