I hate Valentine’s Day because it’s the anniversary of the death of my parakeet Belinda, and not because I’m a lonely single guy who collects parakeets

It’s no secret that February 14th is my least favorite day of the year. I can’t stand the Valentine’s cards and candy, the happy couples I see on the streets, or the overwhelming pressure to spend the day with someone special. That’s because I tragically lost my favorite bird, Belinda, on this day four years ago, and definitely not because I’m a single, 34-year-old man who shares his studio apartment with 16 parakeets.

I know it may sound like my resentment of the day of love stems from my crippling loneliness, my lack of human contact, or the fact that there are over a dozen bright yellow birds constantly flapping around the 200-square-foot room where I live. It’s true that the cacophony of shrill calls echoing through my apartment at all hours of the day and night makes it tough to have people over, and that I’m typically too busy with my hourly feeding and grooming routines to leave the house. But I want to make it clear that my jealousy of those who are happily in love on February 14th is by no means related to the fact that the only one I’ll be sleeping with tonight is the lucky parakeet whose turn it is to share my bed. I hate Valentine’s Day because each one marks the passing of another year since I found Belinda rigid on the floor of my kitchen, and is therefore consumed by the emotionally taxing process of mourning her loss.

Of course I understand that there are details of my life that might lead people to believe I’m just a really sad guy going off about how lonely romantic holidays make him feel. I’m aware that others may find it off-putting that there is shit spattered down the shoulders of every shirt I own, or that my diet consists primarily of foods that my birds have regurgitated to me. But don’t get me wrong: My aversion to this mid-February love fest has everything to do with commemorating Belinda, and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the only women in my life are my taxidermist and the cashier at Petco.

So if you think I’m just a total loser who would enjoy Valentine’s Day a lot more if I didn’t spend each one sorting my feather collection and reciting Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” over a parakeet shrine, think again. I’ll be miserable this Wednesday out of respect for Belinda, and by February 15th, the reality of my lonely, bird-filled existence won’t bother me at all.

– AR ’18