12 February 2012

Funny Valentine 可笑的情人

Valentine’s Day is, for many, the most dreaded holiday on the calendar. Those who are already spoken for go along with it and pretend to enjoy it. For 24 hours, they act as though their love were as sweet as Godiva chocolates and their lives as rosy as an Agnes B flower bouquet. Singles, on the other hand, are relegated to spending the night alone at home with a tub of Häagen-Dazs in front of the television or meeting up with other singles to commiserate the way the years have slipped through their fingers. No one wants to be a wall flower or shrinking violet.

The obligatory heart-shaped chocolate box


Valentine’s Day is a quintessential Hallmark holiday. It was conceived, created and blown out of proportion by florists and chocolate makers. Originally dedicated to the Valentine of Rome, a martyred priest in the Middle Ages, the holiday was later removed from the Christian calendar because there wasn’t much to celebrate...

______________________

Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.


26 comments:

  1. Jason,

    So happy to read another piece by you so soon after your Heathrow row, and actually I was wondering whether you are going to write anything on this biggest rip-off and most deceiving (in terms of merchandising) day of the year this morning.

    Well, flowers and chocolates and whatnots aside, for some reason and since goodness knows when, I have started to order roses for every single person (guys and gals alike) at my office on Valentine's Day (yup, they arrived this morning with a hefty bill, though the florist knows me well and gave me a little bit of discount. I should have referred her to you too to lessen the damage on your wallet). I think it started one year when everyone was stressed to bits at work and I thought a small treat would help cheer them up. And I usually get them some "Valentiny" snacks like a heart-shaped cake or something for afternoon tea too (and for those who were too busy for lunch and were starving for the whole afternoon, those were life-savers. Had they died that would only mean additional files for me to tackle : p ). Thank goodness nothing was put to waste this year.

    Anyway, further comments (scathing ones as usual, no doubt you can tell I didn't won the largest bouquet race at the office) to come later when I've collected my thoughts. The bottom-line is, if someone is my Valentine he will be my Valentine every single moment of the year, not just for one day, and there are 364 other days in the year when I can cheer him up and make him happy!! In any event, you have a happy Valentine's Day (or whatever is left of it : p )


    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jason,

    I think it is only fair that there is a "White Day" on 14th March for guys. It's about time to get the girls to be stressed.

    Guess what is like in China for those men with mistresses. I beg they would trade a day in the police's custody in a prison cell than entertaining all his ladies. That's why the idea of Valenswine's Day (13th Feb to celebrate with mistresses) is somehow taking off.

    I think soon it will account for one of the biggest selling date for luxuary items.

    Mental note for everyone: Avoid going to any restaurant on 13th and 14th Feb!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. A rose for every man and woman?! That's very generous indeed. :-)

    Look forward to your full comments.

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank goodness there are only around 20 folks in my office : p

      Delete
  4. Phil, your comment is ever more cynical than my essay!

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But I totally agree with Phil in that regard. Had I been one of those men I'd rather spend a quiet day in Stanley prison reading your books (if they allow it).

      Delete
  5. My favorite writer becomes very cynical today, probably because he had to spend too much on too many lovers. a karma. LOL.

    Patrick

    ReplyDelete
  6. You flattered me, Patrick. But no. :-)

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Jason,

    Your essays are always very interesting for the mind and very informative. I had no idea chocolate sales on Valentine's day in Japan accounted for half of the company's annual sale! I can tell you do a lot of thorough research and as a reader, I greatly appreciate your hard work. Ironically, I did the opposite as what you mentioned in your article. Tonight, instead of a fancy overpriced meal, I decided to have my dinner at McDonald's. This was the first time I had a Big Mac in over 6 months and it was terrific. Its slogan "I'm Loving It!" was in my head through out the meal. Sometimes simplest/cheapest things in life are ironically the things one enjoys the most. Have a lovely Valentine's day Jason and hope you spend it with the one you love.

    Love,
    AB

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, AB. McDonald's on V-Day, how original! I will definitely try it next year!!

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well written and informative, thank you, Jason.

    Monica

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Monica. Long time no see and happy Valentine's Day!

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Jason, it was truly fun to read :)

    Müjde

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks, Müjde! Happy Valentine's Day and stay warm! :-)

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  13. Happy that you've been posting a lot of articles these few days, including the two articles you posted on your new blog last night.Keep writing but you need to take enough rest. Your health is more important ar!

    I love this article. It is so funny to read, yet very true. If lovers truly love their other half, every day is Valentine's Day. They dont need to spend much to "show" their love. Here's another article to share with you.

    http://hk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/blogs/relationship-love-tower/我們的情人節-2-14的意義-120630812.html

    Lily

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very true! I particularly like you mentioned "gift giving is only sweet when it is unexpected".

    This day has been made extremely official and commercial, and I dare say that the media is to be blamed.

    It is absolutely annoying to see reporters interviewing people on the streets, questioning "How are you going to celebrate...?", "What are you going to buy...", "Where will you be dining...?" on the news and other programs.

    If I am picked by any of them, I would say, "Mind your own business, this is very personal! And I am preparing some surprises, which means not expecting to disclose on your program!"

    By the way, Mother's Day is another fatally commercial event, too!

    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks, Lily. I liked his/her writing style. I particularly enjoyed it when he/she wrote, "他就只在情人節那天是她的情人,其他日子,倒像roommate多少少。" Quite true.

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks, Yvonne. I always wanted to write a piece on Mother's Day and Father's Day!!

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jason,

    Haha, maybe I should have sent one to your office too had I know which floor it is on : p I ordered champagne colour for the folks, let me know which is your favourite colour.

    As for Phil's comment, that is a perfectly sound one. I do know people who were two-timers before (maybe they still are, dunno) and they had an awkward time during Valentine's Day having to decide who to spend the time and dinner with without letting the other girl knows and without having to get into trouble. (One told me that on being asked by his mother, he told her that he is not spending dinner time etc with either one and would be a good boy and stayed at home with his mom that night : > ) No doubt prices of roses sky-rocketed on that day and to buy bouquets for two is going to bankrupt the guy. And I know one of the girls of another guy eventually got wind of double bouquets being despatched and sent a (to say the least) not very courteous note to the other girl telling her off!!! Imagine you are the other girl on the receiving end !

    As I said earlier, the day has become so commercialized, not unlike Christmas, and actually quite invasive as well. What is meant for your valentine is meant for him or her 365 or 366 days a year and not just that day, right ? As for Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day, I always roar to learn from the restaurants that we can use the discount coupons or VIP cards on Fathers' Day and not Mothers' Day, not to mention the rigged-up pries. Gender equality is finally changing tides and taking its toll, huh ?

    Anyway, these are just my impromptu comments on reading others' comments (so many within a day all of a sudden). My further comments / thoughts to come later, promise it won't be a thesis

    Christine : >

    ReplyDelete
  18. Jason,

    Thanks for the great article. I have been reading your articles for some time and I think this is the first time I'm posting.

    Anyway, I can't help but agree with your comments. I suppose in Hong Kong everything with a price will skyrocket whenever there is an opportunity. (Well, just look at the Commemorative Notes issued by the BOC - I suppose you're going to write another cynical one on that? :P)

    Fortunately I was never caught in the trap of expensive bouquets and dinners on Valentine's Day, for the (dating) anniversary with my wife is on the 18th and since day 1 we have both agreed not to waste money on unreasonable flowers and food on the 14th. In the 3 days in between I could have order the same bouquet and booked the same restaurant for half the price. Oh, did I mention I have a suspicion that set menus on Valentine's Day (or other special event dates for that matter) is not going to be any better (or perhaps worse) due to mass production?

    Last night after work we got ourselves 2 pieces of very good steak and a bottle of red, with a total price tag of $13xx, and thoroughly enjoyed it at home. On the way home I noticed that some florists were selling a bouquet with a price tag not far off from what I have just paid. Over dinner, I commented (repeatedly too) that I would rather consume the $13xx to our content, rather than wasting that on flowers which will wither in a week (which I know would only cost half as much on the other 364 days of the year).

    Now that Valentine's Day is over, perhaps I should start my ordering of roses and booking of a good restaurant for my upcoming anniversary.

    Looking forward to another great article from you in the near future which I am sure I'm going to enjoy!

    Johnny

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your opening comment is probably more certain than the statement that “[T]he only certain things in life are death and taxes”. And I laughed at your cynicism sweetening your second and third lines. Still, my cynicism aside, the description of the activities for the singles on that day is quite true and their experience can be quite intimidating, and certainly ego-shattering.

    I think Valentine’s Day is probably the most commercialized, or capitalized on, day of the year (come on, it’s not really a holiday, right? We have to work and think of the emotional toil of the singles : p ) Certainly emulating Christmas and Easter and Chinese New Year (how come so many of the Christian festivals have degenerated to such a state losing all the message and morale behind it ?) I never knew that Chaucer was the instigator of these all, I would probably have surmised it to be a French or Italian writer. Maybe you can write something or shoot a picture that can re-write the history of the future and undo the harm to mankind for the eons to come, Jason.

    From your cultural research, it seems that I should be working in Japan and Korea and not in Hong Kong, right? I can top the champagne-coloured roses with chocolates (whether they are laced or not is another matter. Good idea if I could get everyone drugged and I skiff off for an early evening off!!) Your economic figures are alarming, I wonder how they are faring in Japan still after this elapse of time from the tsunami and earthquake. Certainly they can’t be doing that on this year’s Valentine’s Day? And don’t tell me that is where the money lent or to be lent to Greece is pouring into…

    [To be cont'd]

    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  20. The big-bouquet competition! I used to see quite a bit of that in the larger firms I worked in before but somehow that wasn’t such an awkward practice in my present firm. As far as I could see apart from my supervising principal not many girls have gotten bouquet this year, let alone competing for the biggest one. At least guy or gal alike they all got a rose flown in from the States or Holland or wherever that was that the florist was charging me. Man, don’t tell me you don’t know of this service called “Inter-Flora” all these years when you were overseas and having to send flowers to your lover(s), so being “on a business trip” is no excuse!!! Especially if you are ordering some special species of roses like garden roses the order have to be placed way ahead of time and you can’t say you are on business trip from 1 January to 13 February, right?

    Dining out that night is a natural disaster, so to speak. I think the price is not only five times more, it is more than five times more! And I can’t vouch to the fact that they necessarily taste better though some French restaurants do cook up a once in a year dish. That’s why if I am eating out that night I steer clear of the restaurants serving Western (and even Japanese) food. The best thing to warm your stomach before one heads home after a hard day’s work (and the self-induced torment of losing the big-bouquet competition) is probably a hot meal at a simple canteen somewhere.

    It is certainly a contrived day of celebration, and that gift giving is only sweet when it is unexpected (so very true, that’s why I like springing surprises on people). I think your line sums it all up, “ all those flowers and chocolates are wasted in exchange for a fleeting moment of self-worth.” If one is to offer another a sense of self-worth, it is about respecting and caring for the other person (better half or not) 365 (or 366) days a year, right? There is no point in putting that person on a pedestal on that single day only to hammer it down the very next by our words and deeds. Companionship is certainly especially valuable during the holidays, but it is also so on any other day. In any relationship at all times, it is about give and take, and to the one you love, giving doesn’t really seem the least like giving or sacrificing, right? A content smile from the receiver is already the brightest bouquet to the giver : >

    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks, Johnny, for sharing your own Valentine's Day "horror stories." Do keep those comments coming! :-)

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  22. Christine, funny you should mention Mother's Day. I was debating whether I should write an article about or relating to it.

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've been visiting your site for some time now. This is the first time I would leave a comment. I love this blog post! So true.

    ReplyDelete
  24. A well-written piece - thought provoking...

    bolshoi

    ReplyDelete