Extra Virgin February 09 - Antilove
Extra virgin editorial

There are a few things that divide the world right down the middle. Here’s one: There are people who refill ice trays and there are people who don’t. It’s that simple. Another one is Valentines Day.

On the one side there is the crusading activist who keeps hammering on about how Valentines Day has descended into a commercialised crock, hyped by the very companies who then charge through the nose for things like heart shaped pin cushions and bears that go “I wuv you”.

On the other is the person who uses it as an opportunity to do or purchase something nicer than usual for someone they love. These are the people who book the tables for two, who take that evening stroll on the beach, who buy the bear that goes “I wuv you”.

If you’ve ever walked past Cardies on the 13th of February around closing time you will invariably have found a spattering of nervous men clutching either a furry bear, or something with a picture of a furry bear on it, looking very pleased with themselves, thinking “Bears are cute…she likes bears.

Maybe she’ll let me…no, forget it. Wow, R49.95, that’s steep…I’m splashing out, maybe she’ll give me a…” and so forth. These guys are not so much treating their loved ones as they are assuring themselves of their own treat. This is not love, but leverage.

I’m not sure what’s worse: Getting a bear or being asked for one. If I was given one I would probably smile and say it was just like the one I had when I was young and friendless, and how did you guess I liked Rupert more than Paddington? If I was asked to buy one I’d probably agree, drive to the shop, pass it, turn north, keep driving until I saw the first Baobab, unpack, and never return.

The worst hit of all are single people who don’t want to be single people. We’ve all had a go on this ride. Valentines Day for these people is a floodlight on their singlehood; a torch in the face of their loneliness. It is a church bell, sounded once in the dead of night, which wakes them in their single bed. Fine, it’s not that bad. But it’s close.

If you are unhappily single the best solution is not, as is often suggested, to go to a Mexican restaurant with a lot of other single people, wear big hats and drink margaritas. This story ends with you walking home alone, rubbing circles in the frosted windows of restaurants to stare at the happy couples eating tiramisu and laughing.

So here’s Extra Virgin’s survival guide for the single: Stay home, stay sober, stay away from Mexican restaurants. You can do it. We know you can.

Matthew Freemantle

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