The Badass Guide to Valentine’s Day

Dear KK,

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and already the TV is full of adverts for the ‘perfect’ Valentine’s gift. Traditionally and predictably there are a ton of ads for jewelry, but there are one or two oddities that have got me thinking. That’s why I really do need to write to you about this Valentine’s malarkey and put you straight before you have to face your first Valentine’s challenge, probably in pre school.

Don’t get me wrong and if you’ve ordered these and been happy with them, please do let me know – but, seriously chocolate covered strawberries ordered from a TV ad? Really? I like chocolate covered strawberries and pretty much any other type of berry you could slather in chocolate, but something about the process, to me, indicates a level of excellence and intimacy. Having them on sale, in bulk, via a ‘call now and we’ll throw in 10 extra strawberries’ TV ad just makes me shudder slightly.

There is one ad in particular, though, that completely creeps me out and that is the 4′ teddy bear being touted as a guarantee to ‘scoring big points with your Valentine’ because ‘size really does matter’. If anyone walked into my home, like the guy does in that advert, with a 4′ teddy bear for a gift at any time of the year, my immediate thought would be ‘Where the fuck am I supposed to put something that large in my house?’

Once I’d gathered my wits, I’d start to feel a bit wierded out. I mean what kind of sane adult would think that their lover would like nothing better than a stuffed animal as a gift, not to mention a 4′ stuffed animal that, in this teddy bear’s case, is not even particularly cute. Seriously, if you are dating someone who would prefer a teddy bear to a foot rub, you are probably a pedophile.

Teddy Bear 1

Want to know what’s even creepier than the teddy bear? Well, I went over to look at the company’s web page and they not only sell just the teddy bear, no – you can buy it with a ‘ruby velour lounge set’. Now if you don’t know what that is, it’s a really nasty, tacky lingerie set that will give you a static shock. But no, it gets even better. They sell a ’50 Shades of Grey’ teddy bear complete with a set of handcuffs.

OK. I need to get off this teddy bear thing. I’m going to have nightmares for sure. Let me refocus on the reason I wrote to you today. Valentine’s Day is horrid, in my never humble opinion. It pretends to be a quaint holiday, celebrating love, when what it really is, is a form of social control designed to destroy your self esteem and make you constantly question your desirability.  Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, but it certainly seems that is exactly what it has turned into.

From childhood, when adults ask you who your special Valentine is and everyone wonders who got the most Valentine’s Day cards at school, to adulthood, when the accepted social stereotypes of the value of a woman is whether or not she’s sitting at home, gorging alone on chocolate and weeping into her wine or being wined and dined at the most expensive restaurant and given diamonds – oh and let’s not forget the 4 fucking foot teddy bear. It’s nothing to do with fucking love. Fucking Valentine arseholes.

So, let me give you the straight facts about Valentine’s Day, as today’s Badass Auntie wisdom, along with some useful advice.

1.  Never give your lover a 4′ fucking teddy bear for Valentine’s Day or at any other time unless you’ve won it drunkenly at a funfair.

2. Never book a special Valentine’s Day dinner at a restaurant. It’s going to probably be the worst meal that restaurant has produced that year. You will be expected to vacate your table as soon as the last bite of your meal has passed your lips to maximise their sittings and profit. The staff will be cynical and tired and there is likely to be a cheap wilted rose on the table to remind you, throughout the meal, that you didn’t listen to your Badass Auntie.

3. If you are going to do Valentine’s Day with a partner, then do it properly. Come up with an original idea that is thoughtful, personal and required effort on your part. If you would be disappointed if your partner does not reciprocate, ensure that you have let them know in advance rather than sulking about it afterwards, or worse, saving it up for a fight on another day in the future.

4. Do not buy a cheesy Valentine’s Day card unless you are doing it with such a refined sense of irony that it cannot be mistaken for anything else.

Valentine card 1

5. Do not buy your partner red underwear on Valentine’s Day. That’s just tacky.

6. Love is far more about what you do than what you say.

On that last note, I just want to give an example. The other day your Tia (whom I will tell you about one day) asked me if they had told me they loved me that day. My response was ‘You didn’t have to, because you showed me.’ Your Tia had spent half that day working with me as a team to get the housework done and then, later that evening, had stroked my bad leg to make it feel better. That’s love and no card, no creepy teddy bear and no cheapo TV chocolate covered strawberries will ever, in any way, compare. That said, a bottle of fucking good wine comes close.

Much love from your Badass Auntie

Dear CK,

I’ve just written to your brother. If you don’t want to read his letter, here’s a rundown. If someone buys you a 4′ teddy bear for Valentine’s Day or as a gift for any other occasion, don’t worry. You’re a fucking baby. It’s appropriate. Once you’re over about …eh…16-20, then  just run. Run as fast as you can.

I also mentioned housework at the end of the letter and so, I’m going to expand on that subject with you. Right now, in this day and age, in your society and culture, unbelievably, women still do way more housework than men. If you’ve ever been into the toilet of a house where a group of mainly heterosexual men live, you will see clear evidence of this.  Then again, this is what they have to contend with in that environment.

OK. I realise that I’m being a bit unfair here although I did, at one point, share a house with 5 men. There was carpet in the toilet. It was perpetually wet and sticky and the the toilet always stunk of piss. I’ll leave it at that.

There were definitely housework issues in that household. Here are a few I remember most succinctly. First was the cats. We had 3 cats, which were there when I moved in (of course guess who ended up having to keep them when we all moved out). I had dogs. The cats were smart and they were liars. Living with between 7&10 people at any time meant that their manipulation skills were highly tuned. They could effectively convince 7 people throughout the day that they were absolutely starving and that none of the mean bastards living in the house had bothered to feed them. But the cats weren’t the problem really.

The problem was the cat food fork. For some reason, people did not like to clean the cat food fork before putting it back into the can, which went back into the cupboard. If you’ve never seen a dried cat food lollipop, keep it that way. There’s not many things that are guaranteed to make you gag, but this is definitely one of them. I used to have absolute shit fits about these things. One of the men who lived in the house was far worse than the others. On two occasions I had to deal with this in my less than passive aggressive manner. I’d like to call it, simply, aggressive aggressive.

First, when it had been his turn to do the washing up after a communal meal and he failed to do so for the umpteenth time, I put all of the washing up in his bed, when he wasn’t home, and covered it up with his covers. Then, when that didn’t convince him that I truly was willing to go to quite extreme lengths to deal with his slovenly behaviour, I tipped a bowl of moldy left over food over his head while he was sleeping.  My memory is hazy and I’m not convinced that either of these tactics were ultimately effective, but fucking hell, they allowed me to let off some steam.  Given that the memory still has mileage on it 30 years later and that I’m still friends with this guy on Facebook, means that it was all worthwhile. Never miss an opportunity to create amusing memories at the expense of someone being an arse.

Now, you may think from reading this that I’ve always been very tidy and houseproud. You couldn’t be more wrong. I sort of blame it on your French Mimi. Now there’s a houseproud woman. You could eat off her floors and you’d have less chance of encountering a bacteria than you would on my plates. When I was a child, I was expected to help with housework on Sundays.  There were many things I did not enjoy, but housework on Sundays definitely made the top 3. The housework was one thing, but it was the music that was torture. Sunday was the day for your French Mimi to play ‘her’ music and that meant Mozart.

Of course, in hindsight, I’m very grateful that she exposed me to amazing music as a child, as I should be, but back then, listening to classical music was soul destroying for me and thus, I learned to despise housework. My professional background is in animal behaviour, so I do wonder if I would have appreciated classical music a bit more if it had been associated with something I enjoyed and, likewise, if I would have enjoyed housework any more if it had been associated with music that I liked.

It took me years to become houseproud. I was such a pig when I left home, I cringe at the thought. I mean really, really disgusting. As a teenager, I was homeless and often squatted in abandoned flats with other homeless teenagers. This is a recipe for very poor hygiene. We used to get some of our squats so filthy that we simply moved out and found a new one, rather than clean.  I say this with no pride and much shame as we were the sort of squatters that gave the sort of squatter that I later became, a bad name. While this is no excuse for being an utter dirty bastard, I believe that the insecurity and lack of commitment to these very temporary shelters had a lot to do with my inability to clean them.

As time moved on and I was able to find squats that had a bit more longevity – months rather than days or weeks and as I started associating with people who were not just little street urchins, I believe I started to learn about taking pride in my space. When your only companions are angry teenagers like you and most of your time is spent trying to find money, food, drugs and alcohol and sneaking into nightclubs, why the fuck would you even think of housework. I mean, you didn’t even really have a house. You had a disgusting council flat with no windows and a door that didn’t lock.

Squatting in England has a very interesting history, especially while I was there. Many of the most important political and civil rights movements were organised in squats and I was lucky enough to find that community. These were adults. OK. Maybe they were in their 20’s or, if they were really old, in their 30’s, but they were educated, cared deeply about social issues and animals and they taught me a value system, that somehow I’d never developed previously.  It was, admittedly, somewhat skew whiffy and terribly idealistic, but hope was exactly what I needed at the time.

And then suddenly, I turned into a bit of a nightmare of a houseproud dictator. I created cleaning rotas and had terribly high standards. When I say ‘high standards’, I do mean ‘high standards’ in the UK rather than the USA. In the UK everything is dark and the rooms are small. There’s lots of carpet and curtains and so, well, you can’t really see the dust. Now that I live somewhere that has sunshine, lots of curtainless windows and tiled floors, I’ve had to amp up my tidiness a notch and your poor Tia, who is relatively tidy by UK standards – and by ‘relatively’ I’m being rather generous – has to put up with my ongoing housework neurosis.

Household management

Because…I still hate housework even when I can listen to music I like. But now I am obliged to do it because I also cannot stand a dirty home. So every house cleaning day is a huge drama with much moaning and gnashing of teeth. Fortunately, your Tia does their fair share. In fact, I’d have to say that your Tia sometimes does more than their fair share and that, my little niece, is my Badass Auntie wisdom for you today. When someone truly loves you, they will go that extra mile to prove it. If they don’t do more than their fair share in your relationship sometimes, without being asked, tell them to bugger off and find yourself someone who loves you properly.

Oh, and if anyone ever asks you who your Valentine is, tell them that Valentine’s Day, like so many other holidays, actually originated from a pagan celebration where women were spanked with whips to increase their fertility – and if that doesn’t shut them up remind them that St. Valentine was beheaded. Isn’t it in rather poor taste to give each other cheap chocolate strawberries, teddy bears and underwear to celebrate something like that?

Much love from your Badass Auntie

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