You’ve already read my first anti-Valentine’s Day rant, but here’s where I tell you why the entire “holiday” just leaves me cold. Everyone who’s selling something is trying to get us to buy their wares to symbolize our feelings for a loved one. Jewelry makes sense, the diamond industry being what it is. After all, De Beers has convinced us that a lifetime of love, companionship, smelling your flatulence and doing your laundry is worth 3-months’ salary. Chocolate is a gift I can always support, plus there’s a chemical in cocoa which induces the euphoric, falling-in-love feeling that you may want from a romantic interlude. If you’re kinda dumb and not creative, Hallmark and American Greetings has you all the pre-fab sentiment you’ll need to convince your girlfriend that you’re at least good at choosing sappy cards. And the marketer in me will even support rosy-hued electronics and durable goods as tokens of emotion. But legal services?
“Treat Yourself This Valentine’s Day”
This week I got an outbound, direct-to-consumer electronic communication (what you civilians call “SPAM”) from LegalZoom. I’ve done some research with them on setting up my LLC, so I get and e-mail about once a week about their services. The latest message was different, though. It had a Valentine’s Day theme. And pictures of conversation hearts. And a call to action that I show my love this month with a last will and testament. Boy is that the antithesis of romance. I guess I should be glad that LegalZoom didn’t offer to work on a pre-nup.
Yeah, I know I haven’t been keen on building up Valentine’s Day as the last bastion of storybook love but stay with me for a minute. No matter how much I kvetch about it, the fantasy of romance is quite beautiful. You know what I’m talking about: the perfect atmosphere, the perfect music; he talks openly about his feelings for you and how smart and pretty you are; she has nothing on under her dress, then she does that thing in bed she’s promised to do for months…heaven! The presentation of probate papers or signing 8×14″ documents figures nowhere in that illusion. Romance is about dreaming and emotions and getting swept away, and legal services are about reality and thinking and careful planning. Very rarely do I get sprung on a guy then engage in extensive fantasies about going with him to the notary public. Similarly, some guy whipping out his corporate seal doesn’t get me hot or give me the warm fuzzies, no matter how much of a geek I am.
Give Me a Gift I Wouldn’t Get for Myself
LegalZoom took all the fun out of romance – or feigning romance – by peddling some pedestrian, everyday stuff in the middle of the February and pretending that its cute and cuddly. If I form my LLC now, does the official filing come on pink, rose-scented paper with a free heart-shaped box of chocolates? Because that’s what I expect when you pitch it to me in a Valentine’s Day wrapper. Besides, a gift is something that someone gives to or does for you. If you give someone a trademark application as a V-Day gift you’re basically giving them a bunch of work to do. Even if the process is online and fairly straightforward, your beloved is clearly going to think of you – and perhaps not so kindly – as they’re reading fine print, checking their e-mail for confirmations, and generally worrying that they’ve done something wrong. How sweet of you!
I did think of a legal activity that does connote love and romance: filing for divorce. It might not mean lovey-dovies for everyone, but I’m sure that some affected parties would consider it cause for champagne, flowers, and celebration.