GIRL ABOUT TOWN: Why pretend to be hitched on Valentine’s?

Tuesday February 12 2019

Love is in the air.

Love is in the air. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

SALMA OYIER
By SALMA OYIER
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Valentines is here — yet again. And, as usual, so is the hullabaloo of people shopping for red dresses; planning surprise dinners (though they are really not a surprise when you think about it…); some people throwing hints to their partners about what they want or expect; people getting their bouquet of flowers for the year; and chocolate sales will probably be going up.

Come Thursday, some lovers will dance in each other’s arms; hotels and entertainment joints will lure couples with their tantalising offers; some gift shops and grocery stores already have a lover’s theme; couples will plan getaways and special gifts...as you know, love is in the air.

Of course, there are people who will spend the day alone; some sad, some okay with it. There are people who don’t care much for the occasion or spending money on it; while others like to splurge on Valentine’s Day and perhaps other occasions.

BE MY VALENTINE'S

But there is a group of people, mostly women, who are either afraid of being alone or of feeling left out, or perhaps another reason that I can’t think of. Some people reacquaint themselves with exes or go on blind dates...just for Valentine’s Day. Some of them dress up and pretend they have hot dates after work or school but go home to have dinner at home alone; while there are others who send themselves flowers and chocolates to the office, just to look like they have someone out there. But at the end of the day, they are merely trying to look good for other people. This has always shocked me. Isn’t this too much pressure?

Talking of pressure, I came across a Twitter post where a man was offering services — hire him for Valentine’s Day to show up in your office looking dapper, with flowers that you bought yourself, and anything else you want him to carry along (which you have bought or paid for)…

Red roses and a bottle of champagne for Valentine's Day.

Red roses and a bottle of champagne for Valentine's Day. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

It reminded me of a strange experience two years ago, when a friend of mine said a friend of his asked him to show up to her office with roses, a Valentine’s Day card, a teddy bear, and a box of chocolates, all of which she was paying for. Reason – she didn’t want to be the loner yet again. Apparently, women in that office get presents and she was the only one in her department who had not gotten any in a few years.

My friend thought it was a joke and laughed it off. Until she told him: “I can pay you…” And she was willing to cough up Sh2,000 plus taxi fare, because he said he would be caught dead carrying around a bouquet of flowers and a gift bag with a teddy bear sticking out.

My friend was broke, had been between jobs, and the thought of having money in his pocket was music to his ears. He accepted the offer, not believing it would pan out, though really wishing it would because he needed the money.

The weekend before Valentine’s Day, we were walking to an event because we really didn’t have fare, when the lady called my friend to remind him of the deal, and gave him details of where to pick the flowers from. She said she would M-Pesa him the cab fare and the payment later.

When he hang up, he told me the story and asked whether he had done the right thing or he was digging a deep hole into which he might not climb out. I burst out laughing and told him to lie to someone else. I didn’t believe him. I told him it was a good story and he should probably write it in his blog. But, he wasn’t laughing. He just looked at me wearily.

I realised my friend wasn’t joking. He was dead serious!

PRESSURE

I was shocked, to say the least, and asked him how badly he wanted the money, how much of his dignity and pride would suffer from it, and what he was willing to risk -- the friendship vs his pride. On the other hand, he could be strengthening a friendship, and saving someone’s reputation and standing in the office...Plus, we were both so broke anyway, a little money would be good… I still laugh when I remember giving him this advice.

He did go for the date, and yes, she paid him. And she called later to thank him for making her happy. They are good friends to date.

Back to the Twitter guy, a short while after he had posted his services for hire, a lady responded and said she too was offering similar services for a man -- anyone who wants to go on a date with a curvy woman (I am using curvy loosely because what she said may not look so good in print) and wants her to show up in his office, etc.

Of course, I dismissed these issues. But later on, after much thought, I asked myself: why are people offering such services? There must be some sort of demand for it. So I spoke to a few people I know. Some were aware of this practice, some would do it, some would be caught dead doing it, my colleague just laughed when I told her about it.

I’m all for gifting oneself, after all, we all need to love ourselves first. But do it every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. And I'm also all for gifting loved ones.

As for the need to be with someone or show off that you have someone special, it just shows how societal pressure is doing a number on people.

As for me, I plan on being in the office, getting home early, and treat myself kindly, just as I do every other day. No way I’m letting all this marketing gimmick and societal pressure make me spend a fortune just to save face for a day.

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