Valentine's Day makes me bitter.

It's an annual war waged by the greeting card industry on the masses. As little kids, we're initiated into the rites by exchanging cutesy-poo cards in class and gobbling red foil wrapped candies (give a kid some candy and they'll go along with anything). By the time our hormones kick in the Hallmarketeers are waiting for us, grinning as they fling open the doors to the card shop, the florist, the (gasp!) jeweler – and of course, the local chocolatier.

V-Day is one giant conspiracy designed to make us trot like lemmings to the mall, wallets drawn and ready. Forget about true passion – if you don't drop a bundle on a dozen roses for your sweetie, you must not really love 'em.

And if you don't receive anything then you're a loser. Think of Charlie Brown staring mournfully into his empty mailbox, praying for one solitary pink envelope to validate his existence.

My high school sold flowers for V-Day, and everyone who received a pink carnation from their steady waved it like a banner all day. The rest of us hummed Janis Ian quietly and tried to act like we didn't care.

It's no easier once you get older. Coupling is encouraged – heavily encouraged – and woe to the solo fliers, who must be lonely in their state of singlehood. By the time you're an adult, you're bombarded with V-Day propaganda from mid-January on. Roses, rings, and candlelight dinners permeate the media. I heard a radio ad last week for "a boxed gift of chocolates and sexy lingerie – the ultimate way to show her you care." Talk about sending mixed messages....

So last V-Day I went to a "bitter" party. A group of women got together to drink red wine and good tequila and vent about the dark side of love. We shared our war stories, cursed our ex's and failed crushes, and had a wonderful time. We were strong, dammit, veterans of minor skirmishes and major battles. We counted our casualties, picked up the pieces, and moved on. We needed Valentine's Day like a fish needs a bicycle.

Of course, I didn't dare admit that the proud warrior within me was secretly thinking about the rose I'd left on a certain someone's desk earlier that day....

What makes you bitter about Valentine's Day?