Hot date? Cancel it NOW...
Valentine’s Day, as we all know, begun as a quasi-bloody mating ritual in ancient Rome. According to Arnie Seipel (NPR, 13 February, 2011), it was an annual three-day ritual (13-15 February) when men hit on women by, well, hitting them. Men slaughtered goats and women lined up to be struck by the skins. This, they thought, would make them fertile. A lottery was then held where men drew the names of women from a jar and they hooked up for the duration of the festival. They were drunk, they were naked, and apparently it was a hell of a lot of fun. Oh those wacky Romans.
Between then and now, according to historians, a lot of other shit happened, until an American greeting card company picked up on the tradition in the early 20th century and Valentine’s Day was born. Today U.S. sales for the holiday reach up to $18 billion. This is more than three times what was spent on the 2012 elections. Sort of puts things into perspective. Sexual politics outruns international affairs by far.
So too, here in Egypt, where Februarys take on a life of their own. People go crazy for this crap and woe to any would be suitor/stalker who ignores his lady on this all important local love fest.
One of the traditions, naturally, is for you to take your woman out to dinner. My advice? Don’t do it. It is the worst possible day to have a meal in a restaurant. Buy a teddy bear, but don’t waste your money on going out for a meal; you will get far better service and food the other 363 days of the year. (Mother’s Day is equally as bad.)
It was Anthony (your-body’s-not-a-temple-it’s-a-playground) Bourdain that first pointed this out, and he’s right. Think about it. For a while now you’ve been hearing about this cool new lounge/restaurant, Collagen and Steroids. You read about it on Cairo Scene; you see the pics on Cairo Zoom; you know someone who knows someone who went there; you heard there was a massive catfight at some bitch’s birthday party last Friday: at this point you decide it’s worth checking out.
You go on Ladies Night. There’s a cool DJ. No catfight, but that’s okay, the food is pretty good, you get to know some of the waiters, you tip the bouncer heavily, and you feel like you’re in. Over the next couple of months you take several girls there, you’re having a good time, it’s your new hang out.
Then comes February and by then there is someone you kind of like. You dread Valentine’s Day. Last year was an utter disaster and you don’t want to go through that again, but Collagen and Steroids is advertising a super special Valentine’s Day deluxe romantic dining and dancing special with special Valentine’s Day welcome gift and a special guest DJ. By nature you’re too lazy to think of something original anyway, so you figure, what the hell?
Don’t do it. I’m telling you. Follow my advice and thank me later after your friends Tweet about how horrible it was; or don’t listen to me and pretend later that you didn’t read this.
It’s V Day, people. On this night restaurants are serving more meals than they usually do in a week. Plus they’ve got all these first-timers in the dining room who are trying to impress their dates but who have no idea how to work their way around a menu and a wine list. The maître d’ is fucked; the waitstaff is fucked; the kitchen, especially, is FUCKED.
Management has come up with a new Valentine’s Day menu that is going to make them a month’s worth of profits and the chef is in the weeds. Meantime, you and your date will be nursing your free glass of Omar Khayam and listening to covers of Michael Bublé covers. When the food comes, it is not what you usually expect from this place, and despite the fact that you’ve been developing a relationship for months, no matter how in you are with the bartender, the bouncer, the waiter and the chef, on V Day they do not have time to know you.
Don’t. Do. It.
Get flowers. Buy a card (plagiarize a poem from the Internet). Make her dinner at home. Buy her chocolates. Better yet, just get a bottle of wine. You know the old saying: Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
Happy V Day.