And therefore you should spend money on maudlin cards, boxes of gut-busting candy, and dead flowers.
In gay neighborhoods it was ok, but in the straight world, same-sex couples who try to participate get stared at in restaurants, laughed at at the flower shop, jeered at the candy store. Or at least they feel hideously out of place amid the cooing boys and girls.
And God forbid you're single!
Here are the highlights of Valentine's Day seasons past, some ok, some bad, some horrendously bad.
Not counting childhood, when everybody in the class got a valentine from everybody else, regardless of gender.
2. T, the Thug from Catch On. Valentine's Day, 1986. There aren't a lot of black men in West Hollywood: if you want to meet them, you have to go to Jewel's Catch-One. Alan and I go, and get cruised by a thug wannabe named T.
3. My Celebrity Boyfriend. Valentine's Day, 1987. The Celebrity and I have only been dating for about a month, and he says he wants to go "all out" for Valentine's Day. I wonder what a famous ex-teen idol considers "all out." A thousand doves swooping down from a helicopter? A life-sized box of candy? Sharing Scott Baio? Turns out to be him on a heart-shaped blanket.
4. A Boy for Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day, 1990. I'm dating Lane, and still thinking of that "sharing Scott Baio" thing. I don't actually pick up Scott Baio, but I get a nice substitute with Raul's friend Dominic, a cute Mexican twink. While Lane and I are having dinner, Raul lets Dominic in the house, where he puts on a Cupid outfit and hides in the bedroom.
But there's a nice side effect to gay dating: if the guy you both want rejects you, you can always spend the night with each other.
6. The Boy Who Cried Fabulous. Valentine's Day, 2005. What could be worse than to be dating the annoyingly cheerful, annoyingly upbeat Florian on hearts-and-flowers day? Nothing. A 5-pound heart-shaped box of candy, a dozen roses, a card two feet square with a horrible pun, and a teddy bear with a heart-shaped bib reading "I Wuv You." He doesn't even love me, he wuvs me.
7. The Great Trick-Off of 2007. I'm back in West Hollywood for a job interview, and Lane suggests that we hit the bars. On Cupid Day? It will be all depressed single guys.
"Precisely," Lane says. "We can spend the night tricking, like we did before AIDS -- pick someone up, bring him home, do him, kick him out, back to the bar for the next guy."
"But we were Cute Young Things back then. I'm 46!"
"So what? I'm 51!"
8. The Asian-American Family Valentine Dinner. Valentine's Day, 2009. I'm dating Chad, who is second-generation Korean-American. He invites me to dinner with his family, which turns out to be like a Korean Thanksgiving: tons of food, relatives you only see once a year, and innumerable questions about the new guy Chad is dating.
10. I Become a Creepy Old Guy. Valentine's Day, 2012. #9 is probably the reason I hate Valentine's Day now. I insist that we don't celebrate. At all. We go to a bathhouse instead, the River Club in Albany, where I become a Creepy Old Guy.
11, The Youngest Guy I've Ever Dated. Valentine's Day, 2015. A 22 year old theater major. Fortunately, we start dating too close to the Day to celebrate it.
12, My Ex-Student Naked in the Locker Room. Valentine's Day, 2016. A 19-year old political science major who wants to become a lawyer. Our first date is the night before. I wake up, go down on him, give him a bagel, and kick him out.
I get to spend The Day alone in my apartment, doing course prep, downloading porn from the internet, and watching The Walking Dead.
Best Valentine's Day ever!