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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
The Straits Times
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I love you more than he loves her
by Jeremy Au

For the first time in five years, Valentine's Day this year fell on a weekend. Bummer.

Weekend Valentines are always a big problem for guys, because it forces us to crack our heads over a tricky philosophical question: When do you send the flowers?

Some of you may not be able to see how this could be such a difficult problem.

Just give the flowers on Valentine's Day, right? I mean you are meeting the person for an overpriced dinner on that day itself. Why not just bring along the overpriced flowers?

Surely, if you were going to someone's birthday dinner, you'd bring the gift instead of giving it the day before or the day after?

This may have been true for Feb 14 decades ago but recent Valentine's Days have become far less straightforward. Back then, the only complaint was that the day had become too commercial.

These days, there are V-day politics to worry about.

You see, some time back - I don't know exactly when - Valentine's Day stopped being a day to celebrate love between two people. Now, it's a competition.

The message guys try to communicate to girls on V-day is not: 'Hey honey, I love you.'

Rather, it is: 'Hey honey, I love you more than the other fellow over there loves his girlfriend/wife/mistress.'

Of course, they don't say it like that. What they say is: 'Dearest Darling Princess Sugar Baby,

'Happy Valentine's Day. To me, you are like the charger to my Samsung Omnia mobile phone. We were made for each other. Other chargers I have tried, but none was compatible with me.

'Nokia, even chargers for other Samsung phones, just didn't fit. They didn't have that thin flat metal bit with the four holes. Only you do. Without you, I feel powerless.

'Luv, your snookums.'

They write out this stuff, the cornier the better, and have it printed in the papers in a 4cm by 4cm box accompanied by maybe a few hundred other similar messages. ('Baby, you are the cashcard to my In-car Unit. Together we can go places.')

This means that unless the author of the message goes and circles his message with a red pen in advance, his DPSB (Darling Princess Sugar Baby) may not necessarily notice it.

Boy: 'DPSB, I really love you, you know?'

DPSB (being coy): 'Really? Prove it.'

Boy: 'Go and look in the papers today. It's on page four of the special Valentine's section, near the bottom right hand corner, I think about the third column from the right.'

DPSB (searching): 'Where?'

Boy: 'It's there, look carefully.'


Or at least that's how I imagine it goes. Of course, being able to read the loving message is only part of the fun. There is also joy to be had knowing your ad - the biggest, most colourful one on the page - is there for all the world to see.

(The world: 'WHERE?')

But before I get any letters from angry readers, let me say in all sincerity to the minority who have purely non-competitive reasons for writing those messages: I'm not talking about you.

V-day is not just a love message competition, of course. There are also simultaneous contests to see who can buy the best dinner, get the biggest bouquet or come up with the craziest, grandest romantic gesture. For example, this year's winner is the polytechnic student who set up a candlelight dinner for his girlfriend at the beach.

Such is the nature of modern Valentine's Day and everybody knows it. Guys try to one-up the next guy. Girls hope their guy will one-up the next guy so they can one-up the next girl.

Which brings us back to the question of when to give flowers when Valentine's Day falls on a weekend.

The problem with giving it to her on the day itself is that she will not be at work.

And if you have bought a gigantic bouquet of roses, a large number of possible friends she can one-up will be blissfully ignorant of your gesture.

Perhaps she could lug the thing into the office on Monday or you could somehow arrange to meet up with friends earlier on Valentine's Day before you go for dinner. But this would be too obvious and not in the spirit of the competition.

One of the quirks of this contest is that although everybody knows they are competing, they must pretend that they are not, that they don't care what anyone else thinks apart from their loved one.

So what to do? One good option would be to send it to her workplace on Friday, one day early. The ulterior motives are only mildly obvious and everybody still gets to be impressed.

But then what do you do on the day itself? Buy another one or show up emptyhanded and let everybody else in the restaurant trump you?

It's really a challenging question. I mulled over the pros and the cons for a long time. In fact, I got so caught up thinking about it that I did not have time to send any bouquets.

So I wrote this column instead. Sorry DPSB. Your snookums.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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