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What does your Valentine’s Day sound like?

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays rife with confusion and controversy. Some of us like to call it “Another Hallmark Holiday” (said with a sigh), or Singles Awareness Day (accompanied by rolling eyes), and for others it is the day to take out all your cheese (fromage) reserves and lay it all down for your partner. Others shrug “meh” and I definitely fit into this category year after year, whether or not I have a date once the 14th of February rolls around.

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Have you seen this?

The video is a few days old and is an instalment of the Ask a Grown Man series from Rookie Magazine. You know, the online teen girl magazine founded by Tavi Gevinson, the fashion blogger extraordinaire, who is also editor-in-chief? Rookie Magazine, like Tavi, is both smart and wise, and populated with illustrations, videos, and other submissions from staff and readers, as well as the adorable Ask a Grown Man advice series that features various celebrities answering reader submitted questions regarding their love lives. Jimmy Fallon, Judd Apatow, and Jon Hamm have all participated.

So the video above features Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Atoms for Peace (Nigel also produces the work of Thom’s main band, Radiohead). Here, you can watch Thom and Nigel give some sound and practical advice for readers ages fourteen to nineteen on questions such as how to identify whether you like a boy, anxieties about body image, and being too shy to speak to your crush. They share personal wisdom in their answers and the result is great and sound advice for viewers of any age. Even us grown ups.

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The “I Love Lisa” episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons

How is everyone’s Valentine’s Day? Or I guess I should also ask how Single’s Awareness Day is going for everyone else. Remember, overdosing on chocolate is an equal opportunity for all of us.

Personally, I eschew Valentine’s Day. I mean, I have trouble “getting” it. I know there was a Saint Valentine in there and then somehow some winged cupids manhandling bows and arrows got mixed in there too. But along with such icons as leprechauns and witches, I am not a fan of Hallmark Holidays. After passing through primary school and collecting cut-out Valentines from my classmates — did anyone else experience one their first socially insecure moments like I did back then? — I stopped paying attention to this date. Even as a person happily coupled in a relationship, I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day.

I apologize if this sounds like vitriol I am spewing, as I recognize that I may sound like the Valentine Grinch. I think that one of the reasons why I felt ambivalent about Valentine’s Day was that I always worked on this date. While I was doing my undergraduate studies, I waited tables part-time and of course Valentine’s Day is a huge day in the restaurant business. The restaurant layout would need to be revised so that all tables can seat two, and then romantic props like flower petals, pink ribbons and mandatory candles would be arranged in the space. I was always a very polite and competent server so there was never too much of a difference in the way I dealt with customers, though it was an odd feeling being entrapped in a room surrounded by lovey dovey couples.

PDA, as long as it is not explicit (!), is not something that I frown upon at all. That is, until I moved to Montréal. I know they say that Paris is for lovers, but Montréal? Well, let us say it is also for touchy feely types.

In one of my first memories of when I initially moved to the city, I was sitting at a diner with a friend for a lazy weekend breakfast in the francophone dominated neighbourhood of the Plateau. There was a couple sitting in a booth across from us, with their hands intertwined on the table between each other, their bedroom eyes locked together. Each of them would take turns and stand up and reach across the table to lay very passionate kisses. Eventually, they moved to sit on the same side of the booth and continued a full-on makeout session while my friend I am uncomfortably tried to eat our toast and eggs.

It was during the summer that I moved to Montréal, and as I love exploring a new area by walking all over the city, I of course made regular visits to the mountain, Mont Royal, and the encompassing park. Montréal is a hilly island, and Montréalers like to sit on grassy hills to picnic, play games, or just relax. But, as I said, the city is for touchy feely types and when you look at the people sitting on the grassy hills on a beautiful day in summer, I would say about a quarter of those people in the park are sucking face. I swear, I am not kidding; try visiting la belle province, especially during the warmer months.

Montréalers just love to engage in PDA all around the city. On the mountain, by the canal, on a sidewalk bench spotlighted by a street lamp. My first visit to La Petite Italie (Little Italy) involved my friends and I dropping in to a popular pizzeria late at night while a sixty-something couple were mindlessly engaged in a hot and heavy embrace outside the restaurant. This never happens in Toronto.

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[Image Credit: Still from Motherlover by The Lonely Island – Video link NSFW]

Last summer I was inside a Winner’s department store with my boyfriend, grabbing a few essentials missing during our trip to Toronto. Boyfriend decided that, due to the sweltering Ontario heat, he would buy himself a few short-sleeved shirts. We were in the men’s clothing section when he turned to me and said, “Pick me three shirts.”

I was startled by his request, which was really more like a demand. I do not like making decisions for other people unless I am in a work setting and need to flex my bossy skills. I am Lucy, I like cooperation, I believe that people live their lives in the ways best fit for them, and I would never tell anyone what kind of shirt to wear .

That is not to say that I do not like fashion nor appreciate good design. In fact, I am a fashion and design snob — to myself. I have a fine arts degree, I have British Vogue bookmarked on all my devices and I eagerly await each season’s runway shows. I even had a tendency as a toddler to refuse wearing tops with collars, buttons or polka dots. My parents had to explain to other people that I was “allergic” to these embellishments, and to this very day I still squirm in collared button-downs and squint my eyes at polka dot patterns.

However, I do not mind at all if other people, even my significant other, wears collars, buttons or polka dots. (Well, maybe not the polka dots.) In fact, I do not like making any of his decisions. We definitely discuss joint decisions and bring equal perspectives to any matter. But when it comes decisions that do not affect me or are relatively insignificant to my well-being, I relinquish any responsibility that my boyfriend may try to bring my way. This is truly an example of my life philosophy of “Live and let be.”

However, that summer day, my boyfriend insisted that I pick out his shirts. I sifted through the racks nervously and kept muttering, “Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t know.” Boyfriend grew impatient. “Just pick what you would like to see on me. Pick what you like. I trust you.” I reluctantly came out with a casual navy blue top, a light blue collared button down with a strip of yellow interior lining, and a utilitarian black button down. He took the items to the change room and then had me give him my opinion, which mainly came down to the fit of the tops. We ended up buying two of the shirts.

I was telling a married friend of mine about that particular day last week when she stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Lucy, I buy all of my husband’s clothes. ALL OF THEM.” It is perfectly fine for my friend to buy her husband’s clothes, but I still feel weird about the thought of doing the same for my boyfriend. However, I know that my friend is not an anomaly; I have another friend who nonchalantly buys complete work outfits for her boyfriend from Banana Republic as if she was grabbing a carton of eggs from the grocery store. I would watch her match the merino wool sweaters to charcoal trousers and wonder if, when she came back home with her shopping items, her boyfriend would clap his hands excitedly and exclaim, “You’re the best mom ever!”

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This past spring, Hilary did a quick visit to Montréal and, amongst other things, we caught up on our favourite nail polish colours of the moment. I was back to applying Essie’s Eternal Optimist, an extroverted pinkish nude, for the transitional season and Hilary was enamoured with the shade as much as I. So before her trip back across the ocean, she went out to buy a bottle to wear on European soil. Then in the summer, our mutual friend Anita trekked over to meet up with Hilary but not before Hilary asked for her to bring another bottle of Eternal Optimist from Canada. So by the fall when Anita dropped by my place for Thanksgiving, I complimented her nail colour which was the same Essie shade, introduced to her by Hilary introduced by me.

This hue is like the pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants that fit all friends perfectly, despite the girls’ varying body types. I am almost sure this colour was concocted with the reference to a United Nations meeting as it looks great on all three of us, one whom is fair and Caucasian, another who is South East Asian, and another whom is East Asian. It is like a great foundation but for your nails, making them look like you were born with their neat and lively state. I make my manicure last longer by sandwiching two to three thin coats of colour with a base coat and top coat. This particular shade can be purchased at both beauty outlets and drugstores here in Canada for approximately $9.99 CDN.