People like to hate on Valentine's Day, and I get why. The store-bought, conventional version of romance associated with the holiday makes me feel like I do when I try to eat an entire box of See's Candies by myself. Roses, chocolate, filet mignon — they just aren't the things I find romantic.
Still, I am unabashedly pro-Valentine's Day. I, too, hate the candy-coated consumerism it comes wrapped in, but if you strip it down to its core, setting aside one day to be romantic and sweet to someone — be it a partner, friend, fuck buddy, or stranger — seems like something our sad little sex-negative culture could use a healthy dose of.
So here is a short list of suggestions for Valentine's Day activities that don't suck. Some sweet, some sappy, and some filthy — take your pick. Of course, if what tickles your pickle is the traditional sexless charade of chocolate, Champagne, and filet offered around the city on Feb. 14, I'm not here to judge.
But even if all you end up doing is ordering some pizza and jerking off to your favorite porn scene, take some time to get a little romantic this Valentine's Day, even if it's just with yourself.
Leave your heart in San Francisco: There's something about North Beach that makes me feel like I'm falling in love. Maybe it's the picturesque skyline, or the European-style al fresco dining, but it feels like a romantic getaway even if it's just a Muni ride away. Steal someone's apartment on Airbnb over the Valentine's Day weekend and live the San Francisco dream for a couple of days. Jog on the Marina Green, be the first in line for brunch at Mama's, grab a copy of Howl from City Lights, and read on the grass in Washington Square. Hike to the top of Telegraph Hill and keep your eyes peeled for the wild parrots as you watch the sun set over the bay. If you don't feel more in love with your sweetie by Sunday afternoon, you can at least head to The Stinking Rose and eat your feelings in garlic-drenched pasta.
Stoner-mance: Meet your valentine on Market Street and find your way to SPARC, San Francisco's premier cannabis dispensary (make sure you have your ID and your doctor's recommendation for medical weed). Giving flowers is traditional on Valentine's Day, so why not partake in some pretty green and purple flowers in a Volcano vaporizer you can rent at the front desk? Sip some herbal tea and get stoned and overly affectionate. Once you're unironically saying “I love you, man,” to each other, Uber (don't walk down Market after you've gotten super baked — it can be really intense) to Dolores Park to eat burritos and lie in the sunshine. If you really want to get cheesy, smoke a bowl and shotgun the smoke to each other for a nostalgic flashback to your days of teenage rebellion. You'll be rounding third base atop Twin Peaks by sunset.
Slutty slumber party: For two, three, four, or more. Order delivery, watch a movie and play truth or dare, spin the bottle, never have I ever, etc. Add a drinking-game element if you are so inclined, and keep it sex-positive — no slut-shaming on this bus! If you end up slipping into a weird role-play scenario, embrace it — that's kind of the point.
Sexy adventure: Instead of a store-bought card filled with generic declarations of love, give your partner something handmade that says how much you love doing dirty, depraved, debauched things in the bedroom with him or her. Remind them how much you love coming on their face, or spanking their ass. Then, invite your partner to go on a sexual adventure with you. Decide on something that you both want to try or explore — a new sex toy, a kink education class, or maybe even a sex party, and give it a whirl. Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to finally take the plunge.
True romance is about having a partner in crime, a person to share life's incredible adventures with. But forget the chocolate and the bullshit, and just do something that celebrates what you love about love, sex, and romance.