“Bah, Lovebug!” How To Scrooge Your Way Through Valentine’s Day

Most of us would like to believe that you can’t put a price tag on love—unless you’re walking the streets of Amsterdam’s Red Light District…but that’s a topic for a different article. The conventional wisdom about love and money is unwise in the extreme: Worse than solicitors of vice, American corporations have stolen the meaning and method of love’s own holiday, Valentine’s Day itself. These days, thanks to these corporate hijackers, this holiday is a commemoration whose metric is pink cards and peach Cupids, red hearts and rose-colored heaps. Alas, Valentine’s Day has been bought and sold—stock, lock, and ventricle.

Now that the vampiric recession has sucked the sanguine value out of, well, everything, perhaps we, the loving people, are afforded the opportunity to buy back Valentine’s Day. Because we can’t buy anything else anyway, it’s worth a try.

Toward that end, Lavender has assembled a crack panel of amore experts, gathered from the four corners of our voluminous home office. We pooled our intelligences, and, after the bandages had been dispensed properly, came up with some ideas on how to keep you connected to the love of your life: your money.

Valentine’s Day’s carnal incarnation incarnated in Victorian England, when lovers of status and stratus would send each other personally written, wuvvy-duvvy letters, expressing their feelings for each other openly (while every button was fastened tightly, every boot was buckled tightly, and every corset was secured tightly, no doubt).

The modern answer to that hoary tradition, according to the ulterior-motive-free United States Greeting Card Association, is that more than a billion prefab factory-made missives are exchanged between saps to observe Valentine’s Day—and “observe” is the technically correct term, according to our crack team of experts, because no one really “celebrates” on February 14.

Back in the 19th Century, the raison d’être of Valentine’s Day was to tell That Special Someone: “You Matter.” Yerking this sentiment into the 21st Century might be the place to start in your economical observation of the Big Vee-Dee.

Try writing a personal love letter. Most people get self-conscious when it comes to writing mooshy things down, but it’s not performing brain surgery on a rocket you built yourself—that would be comparatively easy. Try to remember what it was that drew you to your Significant Other before the toothpaste speckles on the mirror and the peanut butter chunks in the jelly jar, then write them down. Just remember: It’s only a love letter, with an audience of one. If it gets a little Kerouacked-out, the content will more than make up for the possible lack (or overabundance) of style. So, free-associate away.

Our expert panel is somewhat divided regarding the next point. Some of us think that turning letter-leaving into a two-way scavenger hunt would improve the adventure factor exponentially, but the rest of us, upon hearing the idea, went into deep shock. Suffice it to say, be sure your boo is heavily into kawaii before even proposing this particular quid pro quo.

Experts on other panels speak of the virtue of surprise, but here’s the tricky thing about surprising your significant other on Valentine’s Day: It’s on the same friggin’ day every friggin’ year—it’s February friggin’ 14, dig? Nonetheless, the glass-half-full crowd will insist that merely makes the surprise more challenging. Rather than focusing on dinner, drinks, and all that late night hoodiggery, consider electrifying your boo with a romantic breakfast in bed. If you can suffer morning breath and eyeball chicky-poo, the reward well might be spectacular.

Another means to the laudable end of surprise is not so much the What as the How. That’s to say, dinner is an inveterate part of most Valentine’s Day celebra–…er, observations, but an inspired tweak just might be a holiday-themed pic-a-nic. No, not outside—after all, you’re in love, not insane. Rather, you might consider perpetrating an indoor outing. Just present sustenance in a basket on top of blanket right on the living room floor.

A variation of this wicker-themed scheme is to double up on the repast prep—it’s a journey, not a destination, yeah?—but if your Better Half’s idea of “cuisine” is microwaved burritos, lime soda, and cream-filled sponge cake, it might be in everyone’s interest if you were to take point. Whatever you do, don’t outsmart yourself here. You’re executing a stroke of genius by dumbing down dinner in the name of “ambience,” “romance,” or whatever.

Don’t genius yourself in the foot by complicating things with froufrou soufflé and filet mignon. Garnish the meal with Turtle Dove’s favorite love-friendly music purring in the background. Make sure that by this time in the evening, you’ve shot your pager and electrocuted your blackberry. This isn’t so much a romantic touch as it is a general public service.

See, you don’t have to go out to tell That Special Someone he or she matters. With a touch of planning, a soupçon of imagination, and a slathering of devotion, you can stay in, and turn your cocoon into a love nest. Bad for the receding economy? Maybe. But definitely good for your checkbook. And, if you play your Valentine cards right, you may find yourself the recipient of a highly customized stimulus package.

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