Thursday, February 21, 2008
Oh Yeah, Saint Valentine's Day . . .
For those of you who have never experienced a Valentine's Day in the Far East, it is the custom here to dedicate the day to enhancing shareholder value for the continent's sundry chocolate conglomerates (Lotte and Meiji come to mind). Contemporary culture dictates that women and girls buy valentine chocolates for men and boys. In many office environments this arrangement takes on an obligatory nature (the famous "giri-choco"). At the elementary and junior high school level girls give chocolates to whichever guys (yes, that's plural "guys" for each girl) they feel like giving them to in the confident knowledge that each of those boys will be obliged to return the favour in kind on White Day (March 14) in the form of cookies or white chocolate. Juvie chocolate giving usually kicks off around grade four. When I was in grade four, I received no chocolates. In grade five I received one. In grade six I again received one . . . from a different girl . . . a day late. I can only assume that this was "pity-choco." My best friend averaged about fourteen chocolates per Valentine's Day during those same two years. On the day before White Day when I was grade six, I ran into "pity-choco" girl in the local mom and pop shop just as I was preparing to buy her a White Day gift in return. She said: "just give me the money."