A musing on St. Valentine's Day
This is a day in the year that is suffered either in silence or months in advance and, if the night pays off, days after. People who have a conscious cause for Valentine's, usually in the form of someone special, often see themselves planning and preparing for the execution weeks or months ahead (depending on the extent of the person's affection and, in this commercial day and age, budget). This is the kind of people, specifically men, who resolve to condense in one day what they should have been expected to perform the whole year through but couldn't find it in their genes to do: getting her flowers, opening door to restaurant and car, staring across the table with an undivided attention. It's become a day when the guys would say, "Here's what you've been pestering me to do all year... lucky I only have to do it once!" The fact that we need to declare a romantic day to commemorate a history of none of these is ironic and a telling indication of our (specifically the ladies') lowered expectations.
It might seem unfair to the blokes to dispense such a criticism, as if the sole obligation of the day and, in fact, of the whole relationship, lies with us. But since when hasn't that been so down through history from as early as, or maybe even before, the Middle Ages? The warring brutes back then couldn't pick up a fork in the court and the educated scribes would rather spoon their eyeballs than face the battlefields. But it was a special class of men - the literal knights - who were expected to do both with equal courage and grace. Contrary to what we believe, the term "knight in shining armour" is not used loosely nowadays, nor should it be referred to as just a metaphor. The reason why most men today can only put on real acts of chivalry one day in a year (though not a complete act at that, since it often only display the "meek in halls" quality but seldom the "fierce in battles" trait) is because they've mistaken it as a silly idea that only the ladies fancy. We think it's fake because it's unnatural. But as Lewis puts it, "The man who combines both characters - the knight - is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium." And as Lewis knows best, any true art needs to be attained and strived for.