When I was 15, I was sent a dozen red roses for Valentine's Day while I was at school. They were delivered to me in front of the whole class, provoking a micro-ripple of hysteria; at an all girls' school, this harbinger of love was a veritable gossip grenade. Rumours spread across the school like shrapnel.
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The card that came with the flowers bore little indication about who they were from. It simply read: "Lots of love from your admirer from afar". How far? The car park far? Or Venezuela far? The care instructions told me which popular chain of florists the sender had used, so I decided to swing my investigative skills into action. In a few frenzied phone calls made with a gaggle of back-seat callers, I managed to track down the branch they were sent from. Alas, the sender had paid in cash and so there were no credit card details that could help me identify them. My main concern was that they were from my mum, which to this day I haven't ruled out, despite all of my good cop, bad cop efforts..
In any case, I hardly knew any boys. I mean, I knew them from parties and snogging and stuff, but that didn't mean that I could really hold a conversation with one that didn't involve telling them that everything they stood for was shit while simultaneously trying to flirt with them with my overly-kholed eyes.
The only person I could possibly think of who might have sent them was a dribbly family friend with a speech impediment. Whoever it was, they were sure to reveal themselves in due course. Days, weeks, months passed and I received no hint. It was infuriating. There were no social networking sites that would allow my friends to post excruciating web pages trying to identify my potential suitor. Nada. Niet. Rien.
Just when I'd forgotten about it, Valentine's Day came around again like an itchy scab. Lo and behold I received a second bouquet, this time just six red roses. The message was equally bland and I was doubly infuriated. Without wanting to sound ungrateful, what was the point of wasting all that money if there wasn't going to be some kind of dénouement?
This is why I call for the de-anonymisation of Valentine's Day cards and gifts. It wouldn't have to be an immediate proclamation - that would be too cringe-inducing for all parties involved. Instead, I propose developing some kind of ink or surface that is invisible to start with, but reveals itself after a certain time period, which the sender can select. This would be much easier in a digital environment, but when was the last time you were eager to find out who send you an e-card? You can just imagine the packaging now: "this Valentine's message will identify its sender in one week / three months / six months." Any longer than that and it's probably not worth bothering - particularly during the fickle teenage years.
For those who are more bashful, perhaps there could be a "one of these people sent you the card" feature, which would offer up a lineup of potential admirers.
Having said all that, I haven't received an anonymous Valentine's Day card since those heady teenage years; perhaps my bitter cynicism scared them all away?
By: Olivia Solon