All You Need is Love But All You Really Want is Candy

And other answers to unsolicited questions.

Image: Tyler Burrus

“It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I’m single. Should I just call in sick to work?” — Valentine-less Vinnie

Just try to remember that all these over-the-top expressions of love you will see all around you if you work in any kind of office are overcompensating for the fact that the relationship has kind of settled into a boring rut. The beginnings of relationships are usually the most fun. I term this stage “the sugar rush.” After that, it’s always kind of downhill. I term that “the break-up.” The break-up may last a week, a year, or the rest of your life. But it’s coming sooner or later. Possibly through death.

There’s nothing wrong with being single. That’s a great way to live. Eat what you want, watch whatever channel you want. I used to watch re-runs of Mary Tyler Moore and not get the concept that there was something wrong with Mary and Rhoda. Their lives seemed pretty cool to me. Mary worked at a TV station! That’s pretty awesome. I like TV. I never thought of them as unmarried. I thought of them as just living.

Valentine’s Day is just a fake holiday meant to sell cards, candy and flowers. It has ballooned into a February date night which you cannot ever win. Can you really buy your way through a great relationship? If you could, wouldn’t Donald and Melania Trump be the happiest couple in the world? Even if you get flowers delivered and a great card and a love sonnet written to you while you are eating lobster at a fancy restaurant, you will still wake up the next morning wondering if you’re with the right person. That’s just human nature. Western Literature is basically all about adultery. If people were happy in relationships there would be no poems, no Netflix, no Radiohead songs. Humans are not built for happiness. We are built for constant disappointment.

So there is no way to do Valentine’s Day correctly. Some unnameable thing will always be wrong in your relationship. You’ll be sitting at Valentine’s Day dinner, surrounded by other Valentine’s Day diners. Someone else at another table will do something public and cute. Everyone will take notice. Some will clap. You will look across the table at the other person. Give them a little curl of your lips. “Is everything alright?” you’ll ask, poking at a potato. “Yes, everything is wonderful!” they’ll say. But it’s not. There’s something weird about your nose they never noticed before. For no particular reason, things are starting to unravel. Even now, on this happiest and most romantic of days, it’s all coming apart like a Chekhov play.

Single people are generally meant to feel inferior on Valentine’s Day. But this is just by the tyranny of people in relationships. They’re jealous that you can sleep with whomever you wish! Or watch whatever channel you want. Or basically are in charge of your own life and do not have to constantly figure out what’s going on in the mind of another. But single people are not inferior. You still get to eat candy. And there’s so much candy. You could also get laid at practically any bar by like walking in having a few drinks and just waiting around. Someone will sleep with you eventually, if you want that.

So don’t call out of work on Valentine’s Day. Call out of work on the day after Valentine’s Day. This way you can avoid having to talk to your co-workers about how wonderful their Valentine’s Day was when it was probably just O.K. You can avoid talking to them about the weird thing they noticed about their significant others. You can just stay home and eat delicious candy. And the people you work with will think you had the most wonderful Valentine’s Day of all time. And they will be correct.

If not having a significant other on Valentine’s Day bums you out, text me at (949) 546-9368. I will send you a personalized Valentine’s Day love haiku. It will probably be about candy. Because love is stupid. Monogamy is death. And lobster is delicious.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.