By Breena Kerr
Send your personal Valentine's day horror story (300 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org  by Wednesday, Feb 11. We'll print our favorite on the SEX SF blog, and its writer will win two tickets for a five-course meal and a show at Teatro Zinzanni .
Though it's tempting to write off Valentine's Day as a Hallmark holiday invented by Corporate America, the truth is that its origins extend back much further than American capitalism. In fact, it's thought the celebration we know today started with the Christian appropriation of Lupercalia, the mid-February pagan festival ancient Romans celebrated to honor the coming of spring.
Back then, ancient priests (Luperci) sacrificed a goat and a dog for fertility and purification. The goat's hide would then be sliced into strips and carried into the streets by boys who paraded around, dipping the lengths into bowls of sacrificial blood. Making their way across town, the young men slapped women and crop fields with the bloody strips, marking them with the promise of fertility for the coming year and getting their girls horny in the process.
Thus the Valentine's Day connection between sex and carnage was born. In our modern times, however, the carnage is often less literal and more emotional: impossible expectations, botched dates, ridiculous gifts, and horrible sex. In honor of this day of Great Disappointments, we invite you to send in your Valentine's Day horror story.
I'll get us started with mine, courtesy of V-Day 2008:
The guy I've been seeing invites me to a Valentine's Day dinner at the restaurant where I work with his mother, who's visiting for the weekend and who I'm meeting for the first time. He gets up to go to the men's room, and when he returns, he hands me a sock. One of the fuzzy blue socks my mother gave me for Christmas. The pair I only wear during the coldest months of the year and, occasionally, in bed with boyfriends who are too cheap to heat their loft apartments. (Studies show women orgasm more easily when their feet are warm. The trick, of course, is being smart enough not to let premature emersion of the grandma socks prevent you from getting into sexy situations in the first place.) In other words: the one I'd left between his sheets a week before.
"I think you left this at my house," he says, as if this kind of restitution of non-mentionables should precede every holiday gathering.
I snatch the sock and stuff it in my pocket, horrified. Judging by the way his mother looks at me, though, this rare glimpse into the trappings of my intimate relationship with her son seems the perfect way to get acquainted fast. Before we even start dinner, she tells me about her other son, who's in prison. After we eat, my date proposes that we should split the check three ways.
I look around the room, which is rife with rosy, heart-shaped balloons that look ready to burst and fill the air with the sound of popping Valentine's Day illusions. The cartoon rose thorns look sharper, and Cupid's cherub belly reminds me of the five pounds I will gain after this impending breakup.