Americans are expected to spend an average of $213 per person on Valentine’s Day, and I expect at least half that ludicrous sum will be specifically allocated to heart-shaped bullshit. Beyond heart-shaped chocolates, cookies, and all manner of sweets, there are Valentine’s pendants, earrings, ties, watches, iPhone cases, dog bowls, straws, pens, socks, and—horrifyingly—steaks. That’s right: heart-shaped hunks of meat exist. For $75, Lobel’s of New York will gladly mail you a 20-ounce boneless “Sweetheart” strip steak.
I love steak—like, am in love with steak—but I’m not remotely on board with this. For one thing, cows have hearts. Doesn’t it strike you as kind of perverse to fashion a part of an animal that isn’t actually its heart into a heart? And why distract your dining partner from one of the most gorgeous food experiences known to man with a lame gimmick? In general, at this time of year, hearts seem to find purchase on every square inch of exposed surface area like a wildly infectious skin disease. It’s gone much too far. I’m asking you all to stop, as a personal favor to me, a nice person who would like to be your friend.
Giving a heart-shaped—or heart-emblazoned, or heart-printed, or whatever—gift says almost nothing about you, minus the fact that you are not super-great at picking out gifts. It says even less about the recipient. As style icon Pam Beesly-Halpert once said, women never buy heart-shaped jewelry for themselves. You might as well find your significant other a T-shirt that reads “I Was Dating Someone on Valentine’s Day and All I Got Was This Lousy Heart-Shaped Object (And Also, I Guess, a T-Shirt).”
You know the one thing on this Earth that has not been clumsily molded into the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day? Hearts. Actual hearts are not heart-shaped. The thumping, pumping human heart is a lumpy, asymmetrical mass of atria and ventricles. It is filled with hot, sticky blood—thank god, because that’s how bodies work—and has absolutely zero physiological relevance to love and affection. Why not get your lady a necklace in the shape of her limbic system instead?
If you care about somebody and want to get them a present for Valentine’s Day, that is a lovely thing to do. But don’t settle for the lazy placeholder that is a heart. Fill it with the actual content of your love—choose something they’ll like, something they’ll use, or something that’s meaningful to them.
Legitimate exceptions: 1. You’re planning a Valentine’s party for children, 2. You’re in the market for a kitschy in-joke with your cardiologist spouse, 3. You’re a customer service rep at Lobel’s and you want to send me a delicious steak, whatever its shape, for free.