A friend of mine is counting down to Valentine’s Day. She is the only one my age whom I know is paying attention to this day. To many of my married friends, Valentine’s Day is just another day of commercialism. To my many single friends (and I have many), the day will also be another ordinary day. So to see this friend looking forward to this day brings a sort of envy in me – there is romance in her life and she is floating towards that day with certain expectations.
The other day while on a Chinese New Year visit to my house, two friends and I were chatting about how we met our husbands (incidentally, the topic was introduced when they saw my ‘handsome – their word, not mine’ son and asked if he has a girlfriend and the conversation proceeded from there). J lamented that she has never experienced any Valentines’ celebration. While studying in polytechnic, she would look enviously at girls receiving roses. ‘I am not bad looking, right? So I cannot understand while no one is interested in me at Poly,’ she asked us. I nodded in agreement. She is attractive even now, so it’s hard to imagine that she has no suitors while in school. I was introduced to Valentine’s day at the late age of 17 at RJC when I saw fellow schoolmates holding flowers. I was fed on M&B and the romantic atmosphere at RJC that February filled me with awe. Incredible, or not, there was also not a single rose during my four years at NUS (perhaps only at the end of year four when I was courted by Mike). I am going to mimic my friend and said, ‘I am not so bad looking, right?…’ But like the match-making show from China, 非诚勿扰, popular girls with flowers are those quiet, demure type with flowing long straight hair that Chinese boys in their twenties love.
Speaking of 非诚勿扰, I was surprised that the participants who have never had a relationship, described in Chinese as a piece of white paper, is a rarity in the show. Most of the men have at least two to five relationships (with some above ten) and they are only in their twenties. My friends and I described ourselves as ‘good girls’ – we married the only boyfriend we had. “Perhaps it’s our generation,’ they surmised, ‘it’s different nowadays.’ But looking back, my siblings painted a very different picture of romance from mine. My sister had at least three romances and my brother? I lost count. It’s a wonder I manage to get married at all. Perhaps that’s why I immediately married the first boy who showed interest.
Just in case Mike, my husband, is reading this and feeling guilty while he tucks in on BBQ beef in Seoul on Valentine’s Day with whoever he is with, don’t bother. I love staying home on a Friday night – this coming Valentine’s night in the Western and Chinese calendar, nagging at your sons and studying for my Morality course.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dearest Readers.