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  • Writer's pictureHart Hallos

Why I Don't Share my Pronouns on Valentine's Day

Our Funny Valentine.

By Hart Hallos

Grooaan. It’s that time of year again. Pink and red flyers swarm the bulletin boards of Uris, Kent, and probably other places too. They advertise Valentine’s Day events, in gaudy bubble fonts, for every student interest imaginable: improv comedy, squash, lesbianism. My typical response would be an eyeroll and a generous chortle, but this year, something inside me whispered “Go!” Call it my naturally adventurous spirit or call it my inheritance from great-great-great-great grand uncle Columbus, but I decided to listen. Scanning the corkboard, an especially egregious flyer caught my eye. “Make the Perfect Gift for Your Valentine!” Scoff. Lemme guess, cookies? Zines? Probably not a single ice sculpture of a swan in sight. Even so, it might be worth it to figure out what the imbeciles who attend this school think constitutes the “perfect” Valentine’s Day present. I penciled down details in the ol’ moleskin and headed back to my discussion section.

I should have known how this would go. But, with a naivete that some have called tireless optimism for the human spirit, I arrived, weapons down, at the sixth floor Broadway Hall lounge. Some chump in a tightly-fitting NSOP 2018 T-shirt beamed at me. “Hi!! Are you here for the Valentine’s Day gifting event?!”

That would be a yes, I cooed in response. I gazed around the meager room as we waited for the masses to arrive: stacks of construction paper, old magazines, bottles of glue. Hm. Would we be making fake bills? Wrapping diamonds? Finding vintage Playboy op-eds to base our personalities around? Finally, the event began: “Welcome everyone! So we’re just going to go around, and if everyone wouldn’t mind giving their name and pronouns, then we can …”

Illustration by Oonagh Mockler

I felt as though I had just been punched in the stomach. The rest of the organizer’s words were reduced to unintelligible murmurs as the room blurred around me. Pronouns?? We were going to give our PRONOUNS? That’s what this whole event was for, that’s what people came here to make, that was the “Perfect Gift for Your Valentine???” Are you fucking kidding me? I stumbled out of my chair, concerned cries sounding far off in the distance, and took the elevator down to the fifth floor lounge. On the door: a poster titled “Give Your Valentine What They REALLY Want This Year ;))” But inside, just another “He/him,” followed by a cabal of sickos grinning and nodding. And randomly a bunch of condoms on the table. Sweating, I took the elevator to the fourth floor, where I was greeted by “Is Valentine’s Day Giving?: A Panel Discussion.” Okay, I didn’t really understand that one, but same thing: “She/they,” “he/him,” “they/them,” a near endless procession. My whole body shuddered as I faced the only conclusion possible: Everyone wants me to give them pronouns for Valentine’s Day. Even worse, all anyone wants to give me for Valentine’s Day is … is stupid, washed-up, good-for-nothing pronouns.

What’s wrong with the good old-fashioned Valentine’s Day gifts? When did a timeless box of chocolates become “chauvinistic and weird?” An innocent teddy bear, “patronizing?” Jewelry, “part of the patriarchy?” There was simply nothing I could do or say to persuade these crazed leftists away from giving pronouns on Valentine’s Day. Any minute now, they’d create some new pro-pronoun-propaganda magazine and shove it under the door of every single student living on campus. That would be so annoying!!! And so, tail tucked between my legs, I descended back to the Broadway lobby and stepped out into this cold, conformist world.

As I embarked on the journey back to my W 113th street Enclave, I paused to take in the beauty of Low Library at sunset. I just know that if Alma Mater were alive, she wouldn’t ask me for my pronouns. She would care about what’s on the inside, which she would then use to sort me and my peers into three distinct castes based on the type of precious metal she found most suited to our souls. But until reason and logic prevail once again on this campus, I guess I’ll just take a photo of Alma silhouetted against the multicolored sky to post on my Instagram story. And yeah, I’m gonna add Columbia University as the location. Ooh—and there’s a new post from the IDF!! Got to make sure to repost that. Self-satisfied sigh.

Maybe this place isn’t so bad after all. I just wish I could find a community of like-minded thinkers: people who are down to don togas and sit spread-eagle together, a position which, due to the revealing nature of togas, would expose their testicles to the open air and, in combination with the lack of air conditioning in the room, create the faint but distinct scent of balls that wafts gently throughout the room—just as the Greeks intended. Then we could finally have some real conversations across the aisle. Maybe, just maybe, like-minded thinkers in that group could even get together and form a publication which claims to be open to all backgrounds and viewpoints??? But I’m probably getting ahead of myself. For now, I’ll just send a personal dating ad to the Columbia alumni magazine (yes, I’m still an undergrad, but I know the Editor-in-Chief). Here goes nothing…

Dear Father,

Hope this email finds you well. Here is a personal ad to include in the February 2023 issue of the Columbia Alumni magazine. Also, what are we having for dinner? I’ve been craving Thai recently.

Best wishes,

Benedict Baron von Dutch van Leeuwen von Transylvania Carnegie, III


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