The overlooked advantages to being single in February
I have always felt a special connection to Valentine’s Day. A few years ago, I put together the logical implications of having a birthday exactly nine months after the holiday and I feel this fact is responsible for my deeply romantic nature. I love the idea of the holiday, but this love has always been offset by the fact that I’ve been single for every one of the two dozen Valentine’s Days in my life. While singleness is not ideal for holidays commemorating love, that doesn’t mean all is lost for those of us still waiting to find our romance.
One under-appreciated benefit of being single on Feb. 14 is the opportunity it presents for a single person to make angst playlists. Any excuse to listen to Animal Collective’s master-work, “Banshee Beat,” is always welcome, and the theme of lost love is particularly appropriate. Some might argue that “Feels” as a whole is more of a summer or fall album, but I would counter by saying the singer’s futile attempts to find a swimming pool rings particularly true in a season when outdoor pools are generally inactive.
Angst playlists, while they are a great venue for self-indulgent melodrama, do have the potential to be overdone. For this reason, it is important to follow a set of ground rules, such as ending with three “fade out” songs — for me, “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” by Radiohead, “No Need to Argue” by the Cranberries then “Motion Picture Soundtrack” again by Radiohead — and a maximum of 10 Radiohead songs, six Belle & Sebastian songs and five Animal Collective songs.
It is also counter-intuitively important to mix in a few happier Beach Boys songs — “California Girls,” “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Good Vibrations” are all solid choices. There are few things more depressing than hearing songs about girls, cars and surfing when it is winter, you’re single and you drive a Prius.
Other perks include some great romantic movies such as “Rocky,” “High Fidelity” and “Clueless.” Not only do the latter two feature must-have songs for any angst playlist in Belle & Sebastian’s “Seymour Stein” and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” — respectively called “sad bastard music” and “crybaby music” by Jack Black’s and Alicia Silverstone’s characters — they also all three respectively hold the prestigious titles of “best sports movie,” “best Nick Hornby adaptation” and “best chick-flick.” “Clueless” also proves that Jane Austen is but a few Cranberries references from being accessible to a male audience.
It is undeniable that singleness is the superior financial option, and it gives one the opportunity to smugly claim that Valentine’s Day is a commercial conspiracy devised by the behemoth flower industry. While I am normally not so cynical, I have noticed an all-time high in Valentine’s Day advertising — though this is possibly because I have been watching more ESPN than Golf Channel lately, and the Cialis ads have been replaced by chocolate and jewelry commercials aimed at a slightly younger audience. For the more financially secure, being single also means one can buy copious amounts of Valentine’s-themed Nerds and Fun Dip for himself without being judged.
Finally, Valentine’s Day is also a great opportunity for what I call the “Teenage Dirtbag Scenario” — named after Wheatus’ standout song and mandatory angst playlist inclusion. In the song, the speaker is “feeling lonely” on prom night when he is approached by his secret love who asks him to an Iron Maiden concert, proving she knows who he is and reciprocates his feelings, although her ex-boyfriend is probably going to kill him. While I am neither an Iron Maiden fan nor a teenager, and I don’t particularly care if “her name is Noel,” I am willing to ignore the semantics as long as the general scenario of my soul-mate professing her love for me transpires.
Valentine’s Day, like many holidays, often suffers from a huge build up followed by a relatively anti-climactic day. I can’t say I have any significant memories of past years — aside from the bygone days of everyone bringing candy in elementary school — but I still cling hope there will be some life-changing romantic event. If not, it is at least another great opportunity for the weird pleasure that comes from wallowing in self-pity and rolling your eyes at the cute couples you are haplessly jealous of.
Christian’s column runs biweekly Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.