The Laughing Toastmaster: Evaluating Saint Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day! Millions of couples are celebrating their love for one another and millions of Hallmark sales reps are celebrating their commissions. I’ve heard flower shops rake in their biggest yearly profit, only surpassed by Mother’s Day and Pet Day (April 11th).

The whole thing is a grossly commercialized marketing ploy, aimed at poor souls who think that buying and receiving gifts is a kind of “love insurance”. It’s a disgraceful manipulation of insecure imbeciles.

Like me.

C’mon folks, what’s wrong with a little self-delusion? What’s wrong with thinking that love is like an Oyster card that can be “topped up” on Valentine’s Day? A little credit so you don’t go “contactless”? Is it so bad to ask “The Boyfriend” (yes, he exists) for the card, flowers and chocolates? Of course, the chocolates will grow old and mouldy, as I’m too terrified of getting fatter and The Boyfriend leaving me. Insecure? You bet! I need Valentine’s Day!

I’m not alone. Studies show that in the run-up to Valentine’s our mating rituals go into a fast-forward-frenzy as dating profiles are desperately updated:


Sense of humour turned to a sense of urgency


Speed Dating breaks the sound barrier by skipping stupid introductions and going for the efficient, “Will you love me? Yes, or no?” Talk about hard gigs. Singletons suffer from bleeding fingertips due to so much swiping and servers crash as thousands log into “Lastminute-Date-Com”.

Many don’t agree with having just one day. They want to say “I love you” all year and give gifts whenever their heart feels like it. Truth be told if The Boyfriend said, “I love you” constantly and sent flowers at random I’d be suspicious. My uncle Alberto gave my aunt Carmen (not their real names) diamond earrings on a non-specific day saying, “I don’t need a date to celebrate our love”. Ten years later we find out he has another family in Seville and ‘her’ diamond earrings are bigger.

Just stick to Valentine’s Day thank you very much.

Others think that St. Valentine’s is too sugary sweet and that real love is tough, enduring and hard work. They have a point. Take The Boyfriend and I. We spent lockdown together and after a couple of weeks “couples time” felt like we were doing time. Or my first marriage, which was like the pandemic. I kept thinking, “It’s gonna get better, it’s gonna get better”… it never did.

This is why I suggest a “St. Daniel’s Day”, the patron saint of courage, fortitude and hard work. Card messages would reveal the more imperfect side of love & relationships:

From bedroom eyes to, “I’ve got conjunctivitis, can you help me with the drops?” Be my Valentine.

Even if the biggest cries of YES! YES! YES! are while we play scrabble, I love you.

For watching me go through food poisoning and hugging a toilet all day … then still loving me, I’m yours forever.

Sonia Aste

And why stop there? Why not have a lovey-dovey day for us, Toastmasters? After all, isn’t our organization where ‘LOVERS are made’? Sorry, I meant LEADERS … although many would argue that our skills bring confidence to “all areas of our lives”.

Plus, having been brought up a Catholic, I happen to know that our saints are like flowers, there’s one for every occasion!

Bring on “St. John Chrysostom Day”, the patron saint of public speakers! Legend says it took him twelve years before he got the nerve to give a speech. This was back in 347ce when there were no Toastmasters to guide him and speed up the process.

St. John Chrysostom’s Day would provide an outlet to express our love in a more Toastmasterly way. Hallmark cards would be filled with messages like:

Thanks to Toastmasters, I had the courage to speak up! I love you.

7 minutes? That’s just for speeches. My love is forever.

If we had a timekeeper for our love, it would always be red hot!

Well, it’s time to LOVE you and leave you, but not before confessing the Toastmasterly message I’ll be sending to “The Boyfriend”:

You’re my CCC: commend, commend, commend. Be my Valentine.

——— Sonia Aste is a Toastmaster who needs Valentine’s Day. She is a member of the Riverside Communicators Club.
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