I've mentioned St Valentine's Day quite a bit on this blog - just do a search using the word 'Valentine' if you don't believe me! - so I can't be accused of ignorance where the Day of Lovers is concerned. And yet this year I failed to see it coming up. That was why I suggested yesterday, in a text to my nephew M---, that I phone him tonight to arrange when I'm next seeing the baby. He responded with a text saying that tonight was a bit difficult, but a call anytime tomorrow or the next day would be fine. I didn't twig until just now why he didn't want to be disturbed. But of course! The romantic young devil probably had a Candlelit Dinner For Two all set up, and didn't want to break off to hear an old aunt gibbering down the line.
The said old aunt had nobody to love, nobody to care for, and she Hadn't Realised.
Well, I hope and trust that love-struck couples everywhere are enjoying a lovely evening tonight. They'll have to be Hardy Types though, if eating out, considering the howling wind and the driving rain. I'm not sure where Cupid lives, but if it's Tewkesbury or Worcester or some place close to a big river, he must have been fretting all day about how many sandbags he'd managed to get hold of, and whether his stock of little arrows will stay dry.
All right. Let's now face the unsaid question squarely. Am I not a bit wistful that I'm not myself being treated to a candlelit dinner? And not being told that I'm the centre of someone else's universe?
Well, I'm not saying it wouldn't be pleasant. And I'm sure that soft words, and good food, and wine, and fine eyes, could all enchant me. But I don't want to be enchanted. Not even slightly swept off my feet. I've done all this before. I want to be free of it now. Falling in love would mean a disruption in my life, the end of my independence. I won't even risk a one-off romantic evening: it might set up a certain obligation to meet again, with consequences that I might well find difficult to handle. Putting it another way, anybody who gets the chance to have an evening's intimate conversation with me will learn my weaknesses. They will discover, for instance, that I find it very hard to be rude. Or to express anger. So they might push, knowing that articulating a blunt, definite 'no' is not going to be easy for me. I'm not letting anyone have that opportunity.
Fortunately there are trump cards up my sleeve. I can play the age card, for instance. That's the one that goes with the statement, 'You know, it's very sweet of you, but I'm really old enough to be your mother'. That ought to put off anyone under forty. But supposing they say, 'Ah, but I'm older than you suppose, and besides your wisdom and experience both appeal to me.' Then the independence card comes into play: 'I've had the single life thrust upon me, and that was hard I admit, but actually I love my independence and mean to keep it.' That'll foil the half-hearted for sure. But if determined they might counter with, 'Oh, we need not live together; I like plenty of personal space too. But how lovely it might be to have someone special to call on, whenever you need a partner.' To which I play the defective personality card, saying, 'I have to tell you that despite several significant relationships, including two especially deep and long-lasting ones, I have never learned the art of sharing my life, nor what compromise and commitment really are; and I'm convinced that I don't know the meaning of True Love.' That should stymie almost everyone. But if they then say, 'But you can learn anything with the right teacher,' it's time to play two final cards. First, the lesbian card. 'Men are very interesting to talk to, but actually I'm attracted only to women.' And if that doesn't work, the trans card. 'Look. I'm trans.' But the last only as an exit line, with Fiona fired up and ready for an instant getaway.
It all seems like running away, and being afraid of my emotions, doesn't it? Absolutely right. Heaven knows what emotional nooks and crannies would come to light if I abandoned my usual control, and let go. I've little doubt that oestragen has shaken up my brain, and has sabotaged the garnered common-sense of five previous decades. I'd be vulnerable, and easy prey. Remember the saying: There's no fool like an old fool. I can't help feeling that accepting a dinner date would be fatal, a step onto a slippery slope. I'd be like a fly falling into a pitcher plant.
So I can contemplate all those people enjoying their St Valentine Day evening (and its aftermath) without a sigh. In fact it feels like a Good Move to be at home, all alone, and engaged in nothing more than typing this post. You can say to me, 'You can't hide from love forever,' if you want to. So far as love is concerned, I'm not playing. In fact, given the choice between love and a sausage roll, guess which I'd go for! Sorry, Cupid.