If You Were a Chemical, You’d Be Dope-a-Mine Because You’re Always On My Mind

PDA is actually good for us—and not just for the ones getting some.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dread it. Run from it. February 14 still arrives. You know that if Valentine’s Day had just fallen a day earlier on February 13, the superstitious American public would have had no trouble sweeping it under the rug and deleting the date from the calendar, pockmarking a month already riddled with holes of confusion—from Groundhog Day to that mysterious 29th day that some people are actually born on.

But no. A flat two weeks into the month, you stumble out your door into the brisk February air, which is either five or 55 degrees. This depends on whichever is closest to the phone battery percentage you left the house with. You are immediately engulfed in an atmosphere redolent with Cupid’s seductive flatulence, byproducts of his secret indigestion at the thought of all his unlucky disciples who keep him up at night.

Faster than you can move down the subway platform once the express train pulls up—not to mention, you also find that the car in front of you is suspiciously empty—loving parents and couples have sprouted on every street corner and sidewalk. The worst part is that like marijuana and bubble tea, love and affection are substances we unabashedly offer, lap up, and feast on in public. You might even question why we need a day to encourage loving the one you’re with and crying about the ones you aren’t, since that’s literally every single day in most of our lives. But let’s look a little further into the root cause of why Valentine’s Day is the ultimate “Monday” of the year.

Every year, the unquestionably worst thing about Valentine’s Day isn’t the low prices of the big Hershey’s chocolate bars nor the before-and-after pictures of disturbing stuffed animals with “I Luv U” stitched onto their bleeding, dying hearts. No, the most life draining, stomach roiling, sense obliviating phenomenon that Valentine’s Day brings in—as the tide delivers beached whales to our forlorn shores (can I get an amen, please?)—is public display of affection (PDAs).

This phenomenon is pandemic in our global population year in and year out. But with each Valentine’s Day comes a resurgence in sightings of PDA—all throughout our cities and all across our nation. On these days, it becomes easier to catch feelings than to catch “that bug that’s been going around.”

Now, let’s sit back and really think about what PDA is. It’s a sensory nuisance that occurs when you’re settled in your movie theater recliner and trying to enjoy the latest action blockbuster, but the unscripted and unprotected action happening in the seat next to you is more intense than what’s happening on-screen. It’s a physical nuisance that occurs when a loving couple is barring the only entrance into the bathroom—and well, being in the bathroom would be more sanitary than being out there with them. But is PDA really that bad?

Let’s meditate on it for a second. PDA, like many of humanity’s flaws and virtues nowadays, can be measured on a spectrum. PDA ranges from flirting in a run-of-the-mill, conversational way to holding hands to sumptuously snogging on a park bench to having sex on the beach (I’m not talking about the cocktail). In some cases, it might even go as far as eye contact.

While many of us might hope to never witness such a brazen and indecent act of PDA as eye contact, I implore you to desist from upending your innards automatically. We’ve got to put our feelings aside and reflect on what it really represents. PDA is any instance when a couple—or anyone, in fact—expresses their love and affection for each other in public. Now, we can’t technically judge them for what they do behind closed doors and in the backseats of their very viewable cars. But PDA is what we’ve been preaching to each other for decades— what we’ve been grooming into our children for centuries. Forgive me for the awkward mental image that concept conjures up.

Saying goodbye to your parents when they drop you off at school. Holding the subway door open for that granny who’s doing her best as she hustles down the stairs to the platform with five bags on her arm and screeches at the train to hold itself open for her. Giving your seat up to that very same granny on the train, blushing furiously as she rains praise down on you. Society exhorts us to be kind, respectful, and accepting of each other no matter who we are. And whether we grow up performing charity or wearing AirPods, we all endeavor to fulfill that vision.

The only thing concrete about love is that it’s a chemical reaction in the brain that’s harder to get rid of than a drug addiction. It also lasts longer than the modern-day Netflix binge. And the only thing real about that is that those chemicals—dopamine, serotonin, and a few other pleasurable substances—make us happy. In fact, a study done by the Private Exploration of What People Earnestly Want, or P.E.W.P.E.W, shows that 69.69 percent of respondents display a skyrocketing increase of these chemicals in response to any interpersonal display of affection. And when I say any, I MEAN any (I’m sorry to say that the person who exclaims “NUT!” at almost anything someone else does is not just describing his or her favorite legume).

So, if Americans just need a little more love in their hearts to be happier—as if our body chemistry permitted us a choice—then on Valentine’s Days going forward, maybe we shouldn’t be so disgusted when the school power couple starts “powering up” in the staircase. Maybe it’s not so horrifying that your friend ditched your MWOL (Make War ON Love) party AND the FAP (Forlorn After Party) session afterward to take his girlfriend out. You might smile a little at your two classmates who unwittingly received valentines from each other and are about to embark on something new and exciting.

At its roots, PDA reminds many of us of things we don’t have—romantically, yes, but sometimes in other arenas of our life as well. But if gift giving is the meat and potatoes of Christmas, then PDA is the fruits and vegetables of Valentine’s Day. It is natural, nasty, and mystifying, but necessary and good for us. This is because we all need more love in our lives, right? So going forward, don’t be a Valentine’s Day Scrooge—be an Oprah, and give away as much as you can to everyone in sight.