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Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2001 / 22 Shevat, 5761

Mark Lane

Mark Lane
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Consumer Reports

Hurts and flowers: Happy Post-Valentine's Day! -- I WOULD like to say a few words in favor of Post-Valentine's Day.

The old holiday, Valentine's Day, is not for everyone.

It is stress inducing. It forces transparently insincere and last-minute expenditures for cards or candy or flowers. And even if you come through, the lack of spontaneity in the gifts can leave recipients cold. And if the gift is too bluntly hinted at, the grateful object of your affection might even experience a small twinge of something that feels a little like guilt over strong-arm tactics of the heart.

Or at least I hope so.

Come through successfully, and you merely avoid becoming a heel. Come through successfully, and you will die alone and unmourned.

Even the single and busy can't ignore it. The unattached must suffer the indignity of witnessing affectionate showoffs acting cute beyond redemption.

Valentine's Day has limited appeal. But Post-Valentine's Day, now there's a holiday more people can have a stake in. Those who are single and coupled. Those who are in a relationship, over a relationship and litigating after a relationship. This could be big.

Post-Valentine's Day, February 15, is the day of the year dedicated to life after old valentines.

It celebrates ex-girlfriends, old boyfriends, first wives, high school sweethearts, rebound relationships, e-mail flames who ended up sending you e-mail flames and former special friends who are now special strangers.

Post-Valentine's Day is a holiday recognizing that special someone and the special restraining order that keeps him 100 yards from your car at all times.

Post-Valentine's Day honors the summer romance, the nine-month marriage, the five-year engagement and the second date that became oddly like a job interview.

Post-Valentine's Day asks you to remember the high school sweetheart who left town without a forwarding address just before you came back from college Christmas vacation. It commemorates the special moment when you discovered that a good chunk of your joint-checking account was wired to a numbered account in the Cayman Islands and nobody was answering the phone at home.

Card and candy cartels might initially balk at this new holiday. They fear it could steal the thunder from a holiday that reliably moves red-dyed product year after year. They'll get over it. Besides, it will extend their season by a day.

This is exactly what the economy needs. Consider: A faithful, virtuous person buys cards, flowers and specialized foundation garments for only one person during Valentine's Day. But on Post-Valentine's Day a person with a rich life history might send cards, gifts and legal documents to a dozen recipients.

Thus, the broad-based economic stimulus of Post-Valentine's Day is vastly superior to Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is wasted on the young. Post-Valentine's Day is for all ages. In fact, a Post-Valentine's Day list grows steadily as one gets older. If you want to reach a market of people in their peak spending power years, Post-Valentine's Day just makes sense.

Post-Valentine Day cards could include wistful hellos from long-ago girlfriends, politely terse greetings from ex-husbands and raw closure-seeking from that portion of the adult population that has been dumped a little too artfully.

There would be cards for every sentiment:

"I'm mailing a Post-Valentine's Day note ahead to your new apartment to let you know that I stopped stalking people in 1998!"

"Post-Valentine's greetings from the woman who had to send out 108 wedding cancellation notes in 1992 before they sold self-stick stamps! I've been made a partner and am too busy to ever think about it."

"Happy Post-Valentine's Day 2000! A lightning-induced disk crash erased your last e-mail from my hard drive. Have a nice life!"

People lead longer and messier lives in the 21st century. It's about time for a holiday that recognizes this. A broad-based economic stimulus package would demand nothing less.

Comment on JWR contributor Mark Lane's column by clicking here.

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10/27/00: Decided by the undecided


© 2000, M. R. Lane