February is already a short month, but it seems even shorter given that it’s crammed with promotional holidays. In the bar business, the Big Three of February represent nice opportunities to pad sales –– if a bar doesn’t score with the Super Bowl, it has Mardi Gras as an excuse to throw beads, crawfish, and hurricane specials at people. Two days after that, your local watering hole gets to prey upon dudes’ fears of angry girlfriends and/or the bitterness of perpetual singles to boost the ol’ bottom line. As this goes to press, the internet will be flush with embarrassing pictures of Fat Tuesday boobery (all dem beads look great, by the way), but Valentine’s Day is on Thursday. If you missed out on pre-Lent hijinks, there’s still plenty of trouble to get into.
You might wonder exactly what kind of trouble can happen on Valentine’s Day, a seemingly innocuous holiday co-opted by Hallmark to sell paper products and inflate the value of roses. Well, did you know the celebration is predicated on an execution, the ultimate consequence for getting into trouble? Long before the chalky taste of candy hearts ever stuck in somebody’s craw, St. Valentine, a 3rd-century Christian, upset Emperor Claudius II by performing illegal weddings for soldiers. According to legend, he gave some Roman soldiers and their beloveds hearts cut out of parchment as tokens of their illicit betrothals, since he couldn’t given them anything official. He also tried to convert otherwise happy pagans to his then-new-and-ostensibly-crazy-sounding faith. For those two transgressions, he was rewarded with a trip to the chopping block.
Nowadays, nobody gets decapitated for lackluster Valentine’s Day performances, but I contend that if you’re male, you might wish for that option, depending on how important dinner and flowers are to your sweetheart. I don’t feel like I’m being sexist here. I’ve never heard of a man getting huffy because his significant other didn’t hemorrhage a bunch of money taking him out to dinner and littering the house with rose petals, but I’ve known a few who’ve had their souls crushed because of failing to meet their partners’ expectations. One time, when I worked in an office, one of my female co-workers came to work on Feb. 14 to find her desk turned into a riot of balloons, paper hearts, flowers, pink feather boas, and chocolate. Her reaction: “This’ll do,” as if she were some goddess surveying the sacrifices piled on her altar in hopes that she’d make it rain.
I said something smart, and she retorted with the assertion that since “the world caters to men every other day of the year, women should get one 24-hour period set aside to make them feel special.”
“If you say so,” I replied, remembering that her desk had turned into a similarly festive landfill when her birthday had rolled around.
It’s not that I’m against making your mate feel special, but it’s the cultural and corporate coercion surrounding Valentine’s Day that makes me see red over having to buy pink hearts. And I’m not the only one. If you go around town, you’ll find more than a few places holding anti-Valentine’s Day parties. At Redneck Heaven, up on 820 near Beach Street (3840 N.E. Loop 820, 817-222-9800), you get a discount on your tab if you bring and shred a picture of your ex. Downtown at Frankie’s Sports Bar (425 W. 3rd St., 817-870-9090), anyone wearing black gets happy-hour prices. I might scowl about the pressure surrounding V-Day, but at least I’m not capitalizing on the jilted and the jaded. Still, if you need to commiserate with other romantically toxic singles, those are both great places to drink. If its ad is to be believed, Redneck Heaven’s lovely servers will be wearing black lingerie, so head there if cheap drinks and fried food paired with garter belts floats your boat.
Of course, if you failed to meet the minimal heart-shaped standards, you can always buy a bottle of Two Buck Chuck to drink in the doghouse. Just try to screw up before you pay for that prix fixe. –– Steve Steward
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