Lovers and other strangers 

A cynic goes in search of romance

I don’t know about you but the day after New Year’s day I breathe a sigh of relief that the holidays are over. No more family get togethers, no more shopping, no more forced good cheer.

Then suddenly, no sooner are the Christmas decorations down than red hearts begin to bloom in retail outlets across the land, like a rampant virus replicating itself at impossible speed. Before I know it cherubic Santa Clauses have been replaced with cherubs, and as my stomach twists into knots and I break out into a cold sweat, it dawns on me that another Valentine’s Day is soon upon us.

As you may have guessed I’m not a big fan of this holiday. Actually it’s not really a holiday; you don’t get a day off or anything, all the banks are open, although if they were closed, I could imagine their slogan, " We’re closed today to show how much we really love your money."

Of course you could say the same thing about Halloween (now there’s a holiday). All right I’m hopelessly biased, I admit it.

"So what drove you to this bitter outlook on a day that celebrates such a fundamental human emotion?" I hear you ask. Well it’s the obvious answer: yes I was dumped by a serious girlfriend around this time of the year (I know, boo-hoo, get over it).

So then how does someone like me end up with the assignment to write about something I so obviously have no interest in – two years running, I should add? What can I say, my editor has a twisted sense of humour.

"Why not write a piece on Valentine’s Day?" he says with a sadistic gleam in his eye. "The most romantic day of the year," he adds somewhat unnecessarily.

I managed to qualm my hearty guffaws long enough to say gamely, "Sure, I guess I can give it the cynical outlook approach."

He reminds me that that was exactly the same spin I gave it last year. So he wants something romantic, something carefree and whimsical, to remind people of their special someone on this special day?

"Yes, that’s it!" he says.

You sick bastard, I think to myself. Then I smile and nod enthusiastically, "Okay, I’m on it."

Well easier said that done. Since I’m single (again) this year I decide that perhaps I might just try and get to the bottom of this whole romance thing, and perhaps in doing so find a love of my own and change my outlook on Valentine’s Day forever (no, seriously). I mention my plans to a few friends and they give the sort of encouragement one gives to a friend who has just announced that he plans to move to Hollywood and become a movie star: "Great; go for it; losta luck."

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