'February 14 can be a nightmare for some of us'
Stop moping and get your act together this Valentine's Day says Paloma Sharma
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
It's that time of the year again.
Flowers are blooming, birds are singing and Hallmark is raking in enough profits to match the earnings of Dhoom 3.
While love is in the air -- and also in parks, cafes and the corner seat of the last row of the seediest cinema hall in town -- there are things lurking in the shadows.
These things are better known as the Forever Alones.
Now you see, these Forever Alones look a lot like you and me on the surface, but there are several ways you can identify one of them.
Here are some classic signs that they exhibit:
- A Forever Alone will typically be found using the phrase, "Single and ready to mingle" often tad too zealously.
- A Forever Alone will typically be found sulking around, mumbling, "I'm happy being alone" while smelling ever so slightly of alcohol.
- A Forever Alone will have a facial seizure every 11.8 minutes wherein their expression will temporarily change to this:
- A Forever Alone will have begun collecting an assortment of cuddly, furry creatures -- living or otherwise -- to curl up next to on lonely nights (or every night, same diff).When you tell them about your fantastic -- or merely existent -- love life, a Forever Alone will go into a mini-cardiac arrest.
Recognize any of the above? That's alright, there's no shame in admitting that the signs remind of someone you know (hint: you say hi to them everyday in the mirror).
I know exactly what you're going through. I mean, not that I would personally know it. It's just that I've been told, by a friend.
(Insert awkward laughter here)
February 14 can be a nightmare for some of us. We can no longer shop online without hearts popping up in every advertisement.
We cannot go through our Facebook feeds without messages, pictures and jokes about Valentine's day popping up.
We can't even read the front page of news papers without being told to gift an iPhone to our significant other.
Sure, Valentine's Day can be the worst day of the year for you -- except the wedding anniversary you don't have and the birthday nobody bothered to celebrate -- but it doesn't have to be that way.
In the event that you find yourself alone this Valentine's Day here are a couple of handy tips to prevent facial seizures, heart break and a whole lot of weight gain from those tubs of vanilla ice cream.
Have A Girls/Guys Night Out
So you don't have a ring on your finger this Valentine's? Never fear! While diamonds may last forever, girlfriends/homies last only slightly less than that.
Having a night out on the town with a group of same-sex buddies is one of the best ways to stop feeling alone and unappreciated. If nothing else, it sure beats petting your neighbour's cat, Lulu, pretending that she's your own.
I know you do it.
It is almost statistically impossible for all your female/male friends to be committed at the same time, unless you're middle-aged.
Perhaps you have a set of friends you haven't hung out with in a while.
This could be a perfect opportunity for you lot to catch up.
Although the world seems to be made for two on Valentine's Day, there are several restaurants, cinema halls and bowling alleys that would happily accommodate more than that number; and if you feel uncomfortable/jealous/nauseous looking at all the couples around you, stay home and have a slumber party or watch the big match that's on.
However, try not to indulge in talking (read: crying) about your exes or your current crush to your friends. That beats the whole purpose of the party.
There's no harm in inviting practically every single person you know -- the more, the merrier; and don't worry about cleaning up dirty dishes afterwards.
Lulu will lick them clean.
What else did you think she hung around with you for?
We all have that one friend who's kind of special.
They're dependable, funny and the two of you can talk for hours together.
Not that you have a full-blown crush on them or have already begun to plan the wedding, the kids, their names and what starter of paneer will be served at the party when they graduate with a double degree in neurology and aeronautical engineer from Harvard, but you've all certainly considered the possibility of the two of you being something more.
If you're lucky enough, they still don't have a date for V-Day and if you're luckier still, they'll sigh about it and mention it in passing (you might need a box of tissues for the sighing).
Here's your lucky break!
Go on a trial date with your friend.
It might turn out to be a good experiment.
What's the worst that could happen?
Even if you end up being disenchanted with them, once seriously considering them as a romantic partner, it will only strengthen your friendship.
On the other hand, they might start seeing you in the same light and the two of you might actually hit it off.
Buddy dating is the perfect plan for people with close friends of the opposite sex (unless you're gay).
Your friend already knows you, your likes, dislikes and everything else in between, and vice versa.
You're bound to be more comfortable with them than anyone else.
Nothing might even change between the two of you, which is perfect.
At least now that you've gone down that road, you can stop wondering.
Ask your crush out
Before you react violently over this suggestion and hurl a shoe at me, let us reason:
Yep, that's pretty much the end of reasoning.
So you like someone, eh?
Great! It's the perfect time to ask them out.
With Valentine's coming closer, you're not the only one who is being swayed by the heart-melting advertisements that coldblooded corporations are running second after second.
Your crush could be feeling the same way, for all you know.
Not wanting to ruin your camaraderie/acquaintance/I-watch-you-every-night-through-my-binoculars-ship with them by asking them out and hence making it awkward would be the worst excuse at this moment unless you wish for me to reason with you again.
Trust me, it cannot get anymore awkward than this.
Sitting at the other end of the class/conference room and sighing at them longingly will not magically inject them with a love potion that's got your name on it -- it might earn you a whiff of chilli pepper spray, though.
Asking your crush out isn't that difficult. All you have to do is be brushed, combed and bathed; and when you go up to them to do the deed, try not to say, "My hi name is Lapoma" -- just a handy tip from erm, my friend, of course.
There's always the risk of rejection, yes, but if you don't take the chance, you're never really going to find out.
Living with a 'what if' is worse than living with 'Gawd! Why?! WHY?!' -- It will be like an injection, one little prick and its over.
However, on the brighter side of things, they might actually say yes.
Yes, non-Christmas miracles are known to occur from time to time.
However, do remember that when you finally confess to your crush, keep it simple.
Cheesy pick up lines are a complete no-no. Don't bring them flowers because you don't know if they'd be comfortable with that.
If they're willing to give it a try, don't rush into things.
You need to be on the same page before you get to bigger decisions.
Even if they don't feel the same way about you, it's alright.
There's no harm in being just friends with them.
Of course, being friend-zoned feels like being repeatedly stabbed in the butt but its better than Lulu clawing your face every time you try to pet her.
Seriously, reason with yourself.
Life is uncertain and so is love but the thing about a crush is that the only sure way of taking it to the next level is if it's related to candy.
Go on a blind date
Here's what I don't mean when I suggest that you go on a blind date:
- Go out with someone you met on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut (what is wrong with you?) MySpace, Google+, RandomDatingSite.com etc.
- Go out with someone who's been leaving you secret admirer notes.
- Play Gandhari.
If you're one of those people who have a 'type' and if you often find yourself repeating the same destructive patterns, one relationship after another, then maybe its time you let a trusted friend set you up.
Sometimes, other people might know what's good for you better than you do (and no, Ma, 'other people' does not include you).
Blind dates can be amazing, especially if you're an extrovert.
Not only is the process of getting to know someone completely new very exciting but you also have the assurance that you can blame your friend in case your date turns out to be a dud.
Introverts, do not fret, there's always hope for you on a mute date if the blind one doesn't work out.
However, there are some obvious risks associated with a blind date.
Even if you're going out with someone your friend trusts, even if you're not female, make sure that the date takes place in broad day light, somewhere where people can see and hear you scream.
A blind date can be great for you if you haven't found yourself particularly smitten by anyone in your own social circles.
Look at it as a way of broadening your horizons.
Although blind dates aren't quite the fairytales that movies will often portray them as, they can turn out to be great!
The element of surprise is always thrilling and you never know who you're going to run into.
Even if you and your date decide not to give it another go, at least you'll have put yourself out there -- which is the hardest part for most people -- and will be a little less unafraid of going out again some time soon.
Spend time with a parent (or if you're feeling particularly brave, then both!)
Well... they did give you birth after all.
(My next argument is respect for elders and sanskaar. Do you really want to get into this?)
Just because you're not drinking champagne in Paris, doesn't mean you can't help someone else celebrate their love.
Surprise your folks this Valentine's Day by doing more than cleaning your room.
You could make reservations for them at a fancy restaurant or if you're low on pocket money then just light some candles at the dinner table and cook up a romantic meal for two.
Play a few classics from their days on your iPod and maybe rent a nice RomCom for them for after dinner.
Don't forget to scoot for the night.
Remember: Parents are just teenagers with balding heads and wrinkled skin, they need their space.
In case you have a single parent, do some fun activities together like playing board games or going on a trek!
DO NOT attempt to set up a single parent with someone who you think might be good for them.
It can be very embarrassing for your parent.
If you think that they need to get out there, you could suggest that they start dating again but make sure they're ready before you try anything.
However, if you've finally made it out of home and don't wish to meddle in your parent/parents' affairs then simply send them some flowers.
Valentine's Day is all about celebrating love and very few bonds of love (and angst) could be as strong as those between parent and child.
Spend some time with yourself
Is no one willing to spend time with you on Valentine's Day? Spend some time with yourself and find out why!
Self-reflection really helps -- I can tell you from personal experience because I've never indulged in any.
Learning to love yourself is possibly the first step on your journey to your happily-ever-after-(fighting-for-the-remote-why-didn't-I-listen-to-my-mother). If you can't love you, who can you love?
You're going to be stuck with yourself for quite a while now, so it wouldn't be such a bad idea for the two of you to get to know each other better. As absurd as it sounds, take yourself on a date.
Go out, do something you enjoy.
Or better yet, try out something new.
Have an adventure.
Very few things can triumph over a sense of accomplishment when it comes to boosting your self-esteem; and as people will tell you, confidence is the most attractive thing in a person.
Spending time with your self can turn out to be a rewarding experience. Not only does it count as an extreme sport, you also only have to pay for one.
The most important thing that you can learn about Valentine's Day comes from the greatest film of all time -- Rocky.
After an altercation with his best friend, Paulie, Rocky is seen walking with his date and Paulie's sister, Adrian, on Thanksgiving when she expresses regret over him not being able to get any turkey. The following dialogue takes place between them:
Rocky: Listen, I don't want no turkey anyway, ya know.
Adrian: But it was Thanksgiving.
Rocky: It was what?
Adrian: It was Thanksgiving.
Rocky: Yeah, to you. But to me, it's Thursday, right?
To the rest of the world, it may be the joyous day of love. But if you see it this way -- it's just a Friday.
It's the last day of the week.
A whole new batch of films will release.
The best stand up acts will be showing and your favourite pizza place will have a discount running.
What more could one possibly ask for?
(Except for a raise, of course)
Being single on the February 14 is not a crime, yet, and won't be unless the cast of Splitsvilla takes over Parliament.
Until that time comes, pop a chill-pill and get on with your life.
That stack of files on your desk isn't going clear itself.
You'll still have to get the groceries and buy a new bottle of ointment for that nasty rash that's suddenly appeared.
The world won't stop just because its Valentine's Day and neither should you.
Going on with your life is the most rational thing to do.
Should you feel uncharacteristically angry, you can always join a party of angry young men who are hell-bent on saving our culture by breaking public property and public bones.
Nevertheless, if you choose to live and let love, you might find that getting through the day isn't that difficult after all.
These 24 hours will make you feel terribly alone as will the phone calls from your overzealous mother and aunt, asking if you've managed to find someone.
However, all hope is not lost.
There are 7 billion people on this planet and so, statistically, it is pretty much impossible for you to end up alone.
Even if you do, you will always have Lulu.