Up until about fifth grade, I didn't give a hoot about Valentine's Day. Back then, boys had the cooties, chocolate gave me a tummy ache and the best jewelry was still made out of candy.
Through out elementary school, the fourteenth of February meant just two things: First, that I would get to waste a large portion of the day gluing sparkles and lopsided hearts onto a shoe box and second, that as per the official holiday party rules, I would be receiving a cheap paper valentine from every single member of my class.
The festivities were blissfully heterogeneous. No one was singled out. We all ended our day overflowing with benign tokens of cardboard affection - pleasant puppies whispering: "I ruuuv you," cuddly cats telling us we were "Puuuurrrrfect," etc.
Criminal vowel usage aside, all was well with the world.
Then I turned 10. Then there was Mike. Mike was the coolest boy in Mrs. Long's fifth-grade class. He had his own skateboard, one of those wallets with an attached chain, and platinum hair so cemented in gel it could have survived a nuclear attack. Mike was awesome and I wanted him to be my Valentine.
But come the big day, the miraculously marvelous Mike gave his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle card to someone else, and I was left pathetically broken-hearted with a permanent distain for the phrase "Cowabunga Dude."
It was then that I made a very serious decision. Not only would I openly denounce all crime-fighting cartoon reptiles, but I vowed to never again participate in this sham of a celebration. Cupid and all his arrow-slinging, passion-pushing lackeys were a pox upon humanity and as far as I was concerned, they could go jump off a cloud.
Two decades later, I still maintain my distain for Valentine's Day, or VD, as I like to call it. This forced affection is an affliction, disseminated by advertisers and perpetuated by middle-school girls who have watched one too many Hugh Grant movies.
In contrast to other, more reputable plagues like Black or Bubonic, it is those not afflicted with VD who suffer the most.
For the fortunate few who have boyfriends, girlfriends or undecided significant others to lavish them with ostentatious mail-order displays, million-year-old lumps of coal or stuffed Kodiak bears, Valentines Day is a lovely occasion.
For the rest, however, VD is a vicious Victorian virus that ignores the seasonally single and turns us into pathetic, passionless pariahs.
It forces us to stay away from restaurants, theaters or any other quasi-romantic location that might be implementing Noah's Arc rules and only admitting patrons in pairs of two.
We avoid parks and scenic walkways on the off chance that we might run into a caressing couple, snap, and then bludgeon them to death with a box of Godiva chocolates - which, of course, we had to buy ourselves.
As if the loneliness and exile weren't enough, not succumbing to the VD bug can become a lingering liability. It leaves us vulnerable to contract other seasonally transmitted dissatisfactions, or STDs.
Before we know it we could end up warehoused in some sad singles structure, permanently set apart from the rest of celebratory society, exiled for the rest of our existence in a specially sanctioned, glee-free Green Zone.
Emotional epidemiologists warn that there is currently no cure for this insipid infection. There is no passion panacea or adoration antibiotic. The VD-free must therefore make a choice. We can either continue to endure the second week of every February in cuddle-free quarantine, or we can become infected ourselves.
Contracting Valentine's Day probably won't kill me, but once I catch the bug, there is no going back.
Is becoming love lemming really preferable to being a love leper? Is remaining cloistered and clean really worse than falling ill for the wrong fellow? Am I willing to fall victim to something so insidious, simply for the sake of sweets and security?
I know I should probably just get on with it, get over fifth grade and the turtle tragedy, roll up my sleeve and let cupid administer his shot.
In the end, however, the needle still scares me. The virus is fine; I just don't wanna get stuck.