What We Dreaded About Valentine's Day In The '90s

by Lily Feinn

Valentine’s Day is on its way, and while the sight of red roses and chocolate hearts may fill some with glee, the romantic holiday can also produce feelings of undue pressure and anxiety. Indeed, even as kids, there were plenty of things we dreaded about Valentine's Day in the '90s that made the holiday a bit of a headache. Don’t get me wrong — I am by no means anti-Valentine’s Day. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having one day entirely devoted to the celebration of love and romance (though naming it after a priest who was brutally martyred in Ancient Rome is a little odd). I enjoy giving and receiving gifts, especially of the candy variety, and if there is champagne around, I will drink it. I was even secretary of the archery club in college — so I’m basically Cupid, sans diaper.

It does seem a little strange in retrospect how into Valentine's Day we were as kids and teens. After all, it is essentially it’s a holiday built around eros and desire. Puberty and it's raging hormones makes the whole thing even more awkward, and with all those new feelings to contend with, I’m surprised we made it through the day in one piece. Of course, as bad as things would get there was always that cheesy Valentine from your mom to look forward to, and the packet of pastel Conversation Hearts.

So, as Valentine’s day fast approaches, let’s take a look back at the things we dreaded about the holiday in the '90s, and thank the heavens that we’re all adults now.


The Possibility Of A First Kiss

Back in middle school, the idea of receiving your first kiss was both incredibly exciting and terrifying. We worried that all the practicing we did on pillows and posters of JTT wasn’t enough. Valentine’s Day romance put a lot of ideas in our heads, and we half expected, half hoped that by the end of the day we’d be puckering up. Being raised on plenty of fairy tale movies, I had some pretty bonkers expectations of what my first kiss would be like (fireworks, singing animals, perhaps a ball gown...), but real life doesn’t often work out that way. Thankfully no one tried to go in for a smooch on Valentine’s Day, though there was some pretty intense hand holding on the playground one year.


The Fact That You Will Probably Have To Watch Other People Kissing

While kissing was clearly so gross back in the ‘90s, there were always a few couples at school that took the liberty of making their affections known come Feb. 14. At some point, you were bound to come across people kissing by the lockers or during recess, and there was nothing you could do about it. I dreaded it because I was still covering my eyes in embarrassment when Pacey and Joey kissed, or when Rose took off her dress in front of Jack; I certainly didn’t want to witness any PDA in real life!


Having To Give Both Your Crush And Your Sworn Enemy A Valentine's Day Card

The rule that you must give a card to every person in your class lead to some pretty awkward consequences. You would fret over finding the perfect catch-all card that didn't come off too flirty because you didn't want your crush to suspect that you liked them; but, you also didn't want to give the school bully any ammunition for teasing you. You couldn't hazard giving princess themed cards because that would be too suggestive of romance, so you were left to choose from something more innocuous like Ninja Turtles or Ren and Stimpy.


That The Valentines You Chose Would Be Uncool

If only we realized back then that it wasn't what was on the Valentine that mattered, but whether or not it came with candy.


Being The Only One In The Class Wearing Red

I loved to dress up for holidays and consequently always wore a costume to school on Halloween, but Valentine's Day was a little harder to gauge. I would want to wear pink or red to school, but I dreaded the thought of showing up and being the only one who put in any effort. You could never tell if you'd be dubbed the class baby for being to excited about a "dumb love holiday that is just made up by the greeting card companies."


All That Icky Love-Themed Marketing

In the dead of winter, a rash of pink and red would fill stores, reminding us that Valentine's Day was on its way. If seeing all the heart-shaped symbols, teddy bears, Cupids, and candy didn't fill your heart with dread, than all that nauseating lovey-dovey stuff would.


Getting Asked Out By Someone You Didn't Like

There was always a chance when Valentine's Day rolled around that someone would find the courage enough to call you on your home landline and ask you out. You dreaded that phone call, because clearly this classmate was not the person that your last game of M.A.S.H. predicted you'd wind up with. You had to let them down gently, which was always awkward, so you could continue to wait so one day you could move to Paris with Joshua Jackson and have 100 kids.


But Also Kinda Wanting Someone To Give You Candy And Flowers

No matter how much you wanted to avoid the pageantry of the holiday and the over-the-top gestures, there was always a small part that wanted to be surprised with candy and flowers (OK, maybe just the candy) from an secret admirer. The fact that it might or might not happen left you in a constant state of panic in the days leading up to the 14th.


If You Were In A Couple, Everyone Wanting To Know Your Plans

It's hard to believe, but even in middle school, there was pressure to do something special on Valentine's Day if you were going out with someone. There would be suggestive winks and nudges from friends, but usually the couples would end up going on a very chaste group date to the mall. Nothing says romance like the foodcourt next to Wet Seal!


That You Might Slow Dance Wrong

Before the Valentine's Day dance, I inevitably would have nightmares that if I stepped on my partner's toe during a romantic slow song, no one would ever dance with me again. I was way more comfortable with dances where I already knew the moves like the Macarena or the Cotton-Eye Joe. Had I known that in just a few short years the "grind line" would appear, I wouldn't have spent so much time griping about dancing to Aerosmith's "Don't Want To Miss A Thing."


That It Would Be Over Too Soon

'Cause let's face it, sometimes, Valentine's Day was a whole lot of fun!