A call to hearts

Being single on Valentine's Day doesn't have to be a downer.

By Susie Bright
Published February 5, 1999 3:48PM (EST)

You're single, and Valentine's Day approaches. You've resolved to ignore
it. After all, you have no need for matching champagne flutes and an
intimate reservation on a hot-air balloon. Your plans call for no serenades
from Elvis impersonators or "Introduction to Bondage" kits picked up on
sale next to blow-away teddies at Frederick's of Hollywood. That sucking
sound that you swear you can hear hissing next to the teddy-bear displays
is only the giant Hallmark machine, vacuuming more and more dollars out of
every sentimental sucker. Thank Venus you aren't part of it.

And yet ... you're alone, and that sucks too! Perhaps you were jettisoned
during the post-New Year's dumpathon that seems to finish off so many
couples. Maybe you were the "cancel" item on someone's resolution list. Or
maybe it's been quite a while since you remember exchanging lovers'
valentines with anyone special.

Shall I tell you to cheer up? No, I'll tell you to be subversive. But
subverting Valentine's sentiments can be tricky. You won't get far with a
pout and a pledge to ignore the parade -- it's a holiday almost as
insidious as Christmas. Besides, why should single lovers ignore a tribute
to love? They are as passion-filled and lusty, probably more so, than many
of those ring-wearers lined up to buy chocolates.

My first attempt -- in my 20s -- at celebrating Valentine's Day by myself
had the right spirit, but left me with a tummy ache. I told my friends, "I'm
buying my own Walt Whitman Sampler!" Only one of them bothered to correct
me: "Is that full of tasty leaves of grass?"

No, but it was filled with nougat cream, cocoa and emulsifiers. My big
plans to watch pornography all night and experiment with my new dildo
(bought for the occasion) were cut short by digestive distress.

Still, I had the right idea. If Valentine's Day is a bacchanalia of love,
why not indulge my curiosity, give my body up to sensuality, do something I
would be loath to negotiate after committing to a primary relationship? In
other words, why not plan to attend an orgy on the 14th? I can assure you
that this year, in every major city, there are play parties being planned
and advertised (check your local alternative weekly newspaper) for that
weekend. People of every persuasion are looking for an alternative to
candy-hearted catatonia.

Valentine's Day is the perfect day to have a communal experiment or a solo
erotic fest -- and it's also the perfect day to spend with a group of
friends. Indeed, it's an ideal day to pay your respects to the power of
platonic love in general. Some of my best Valentine's holidays were spent
writing letters and cutting out hearts for my dearest comrades.

Valentine's is a superb writing day by definition. One year I was terribly
brokenhearted and decided to turn Feb. 14 into a sort of open-heart
creative surgery. I painted my bedroom walls blood red and wrote poetry on
the tacky surfaces with a black pen. I took a pink bath and drank cranberry
juice loaded with vodka.

There are some things to be avoided on Valentine's Day, and foremost
among them is going to dances or barrooms by yourself, hoping that
"something will happen." Go to a sex party, and something will
definitely happen. The scene at the bar, on the other hand, is just going
to taunt you with memories of rejection and lost chances.

Another tip: Be wary of the slew of how-to-be-a-fox-in-bed books that
arrive in bookstores this time of year. In a different season, it might be
fun -- or funny -- to act out the diagrams for how to perform the "Circling
the World" maneuver in Lou Paget's "How to Be a Great Lover:
Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend Time-Tested
Techniques That Will Blow His Mind," a new love book I
reviewed recently. I was suitably impressed that this book for women didn't
shy away from recommending a full range of sexual techniques, including the
correct approach to your lover's bottom.

"Watch this!" I called out from across the room to my lover, Jon, my tongue
executing an athletic circle in the air as I did my best imitation of Kiss' Gene Simmons giving a rimming demonstration.

"Give me a break," Jon said, coming over to look at the book's pages. "It
looks like a Boy Scout manual."

This particular book should be an eye-opener for women who'd like to
perform all sorts of sophisticated moves but until now could never imagine
how to put a condom on with their mouths. I would have eaten this up in my
teens, when I was scouring "The Happy Hooker" for similar information --
but Xaviera Hollander didn't provide line drawings.

But here's the drawback to how-to books: The women's books are all about
catching a man and enthralling him with your vixenish ways; the men's
versions, frankly, are all about how to have a bigger dick. (I don't have
the statistics to prove it, but I'll always believe that the bestselling
male "sex book" of all time is the infamous "How to Enlarge Your Penis" --
still in print and available in adult bookstores after 40-plus years.)

Yet every experienced lover knows, deep down inside his or her lusty brain,
that the best lovers are not necessarily the ones with the best techniques,
toys or body parts. The ones you remember are the lovers who pushed all
your inhibitions and self-consciousness out of the bed. They revealed how
powerfully they were turned on, and felt like a blossom opening in your
hands -- or an ocean wave that took you down effortlessly.

Cupid loves you, baby, especially when to thine own self you are true. Solo
lovers, I dare you to spend this Valentine's Day in a little bit of heaven
of your own making. The next person you have the chance to share it with
will be thanking you from the bottom of his or her heart -- and you'll be
able to say with all confidence, that this time, you wrote the Book
of Love.

Susie Bright

Susie Bright is the author of the new book "Full Exposure" and many other books, and the editor of the "Best American Erotica" series. For more columns by Bright, visit her website.

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