Valentine's Day Economics

How a lifetime of heartache and failed romance resulted in powerful lessons learned

By Hugh Upsher

It all started with my very first girlfriend, who asked me out to the movies over the home phone. We watched Notting Hill at Ster-Kinekor and then our moms came to pick us up straight afterwards. I was an eleven-year-old boy child at the time. Before I knew it, (literally a couple of weeks later) Valentine's Day had arrived.

So I splashed out on a couple of heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in red foil, breaking my bank at ten rand, which is about fifteen rand in today’s money considering inflation. What I got in return from my beloved was a pocketknife with a built-in lighter. A boy could not have asked for a more badass gift. What a score! Unfortunately the feeling was not mutual and she got her friend to tell me we were done a few days later.

Lesson learned: Always make sure you and your love interest are in the same budgetary bracket. Sorry Samantha.

A couple of years later, in a new town and a new school, I was ready to make some moves of my own. The high school had organized a Valentine's Day dance and there was a girl that I decided I needed to take. I hadn’t really spoken to her at all before, but we were a similar height (both short) and she lived a bike ride away from my house. Match made in heaven according to thirteen-year-old me. I worked up the courage to ask her to the dance and she agreed to go as friends. It was a victory but I needed to step things up a gear in order to have any chance of sweet mouth kissing action in the future.

Inspiration struck at the community craft market outside the local library over the weekend. One stall was dedicated entirely to nut-art, which is like shell-art but they glued nuts together instead of shells. The piece that caught my eye was a pair of varnished almonds with tastefully placed googly eyes. They were stuck to a platform that was captioned “I’m nuts for you!” This was a eureka moment for me. I dropped twenty-five rand on it, and on the Monday before the dance, I presented my grand gesture. By second break she had called the whole thing off. My only rationalisation was that she took it literally and assumed I was in fact clinically ‘nuts’.

Lesson learned: Never invest too hard too soon, you run the risk of scaring them away. Sorry Kendal.

What followed was an insecurity-induced romantic drought brought on by bad skin and braces. Sixteen-year-old me saw Valentine's Day for what it really was, a capitalist farce where sheeple blindly played right into the hands of greedy corporations. Screw the man! You can shove your cheesy cards, roses and rom-coms where the sun doesn’t shine.

Lesson learned: Most companies will try use Valentine's Day to squeeze people’s emotions for profit. Ahem.

Valentine's Day is many things to many people, but mostly it’s just a really difficult day to book a table at a decent restaurant. You can use it as an opportunity to take a chance on someone new. You can use it as an opportunity to liven things up with your special someone. At the very least, use it as an opportunity to get some major pity likes from an Insta photo of you eating pizza in your bed with the hashtag #ForeverAlone.