Your regular columnist, Liz Marsh, is in Senegal right now. And no, she didn’t slink off to Africa to avoid writing a Valentine’s Day column, although I wouldn’t blame her if she had.

Like me, she’s single, and Valentine’s Day can ruin a good chunk of January and February with systemic bullying of the singlefolk.

Like the norovirus, VD is everywhere right now. You can’t even pay for your damn gas without eyeballing those silky red thongs twisted into faux roses. You know the ones — the ones that remind you there’s no point in replacing those threadbare underpants because nobody cares about your undercarriage. The strawberries and sponge cake at the grocery store seem to whisper, “Nobody loves you — not in that way.” And even if you’re not normally prone to loneliness and self-flagellation, may I recommend staying the hell out of Target. You can’t avoid the messaging by swerving away from the floral department and candy aisle because some sadist put heart-shaped chocolate tins next to the boxy, shapeless sweaters, cards next to the cat-friendly ice melt and flowers next to the frozen dinners. I don’t apologize for shouting, “I’m going through a divorce, you soulless monsters!” even if it did startle a few folks and make a kid cry.

It’s easy to hate Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to rail against the cultural pressure to couple up, buy a bunch of red/chocolate/petroleum-free stuff and later use a leftover Red Lobster crab leg to pick the gas station thong out of your crack before making the sex … or whatever it is Nobody I Know does on Valentine’s Day.

You already know the opposite of love isn’t hate — it’s apathy. Leaving bad times in the dust and never looking back because you’re too busy being awesome is the best revenge. And my friend, not giving one single fuck about Valentine’s Day is true freedom.

I really, really wanted to sit here and tell you that’s possible, because I believe it is.

I’m in the middle of a pretty horrific divorce. Statistically, I stand a better chance of landing myself a case of heart disease than a husband over the next decade, and yet I’m not sitting here stuffing my face with full-price chocolates, giving my stretch marks dirty looks in the mirror, or asking the El Paso Zoo to name a cockroach after my ex and feed it to a meerkat, live, at 2:15 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. (You missed the deadline, but maybe your ex has a popular name?)

Sadly, the more time I spent thinking about Valentine’s Day, researching this column and then writing it, the worse my mood got.

I want to treat this upcoming Thursday in the exact same way my kid will — ignoring the art projects unless I can lick the glue stick, rubbing macaroni and cheese into both my hair and the dog’s, singing songs out of key, eating any snow I can find even if it’s on the car and being happy to be alive in the world, even if nobody loves me that way. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Senegal.

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