Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A LOVELY DAY FOR ANTI-ROMANTICS


February 8, 2012

Love, as the song goes, is like a violin. But for some it’s being played by Bigfoot with two left feet. Why on earth does everybody get in such a schmaltzy, sentimental mood this time of year? Well, not everyone. There’s this separate breed of people who shrug off the hysterical love-o-rama that’s February the 14th.
Many folks abhor the naked commercialism of a holiday that hasn’t been a holy day since the Pope demoted Saint Valentine nearly half a century ago to plain ordinary Mr. Valentine.
And then there are the loveless.
Divorced, separated, dumped, ignored, feeling pretty wretched because there has to be something wrong with you if your sweetheart ditched you, right? Or no-one was ever interested. And you never could find out exactly how and why you’re falling short but ultimately it means you won’t ever be able to find a partner again in your entire empty life so that’s why you loathe this special day in the year and that’s why you’re here celebrating.
Yes indeed, celebrating. With other people, no less. Glorying in your delicious misery with more individuals in the same depressing state. These guys, too, are sick of all that gooey lovey-dovey stuff therefore why not revel in collective despondency this coming Tuesday, because while it may be for lovers it’s also your day. Anti-Valentine’s.
The mascot for this unromantic occasion is Cupid, dead, face down with an arrow in his back. A fitting end, some might think, for the boss-eyed little brat whose badly-aimed darts never hit you, or if they did they soon bounced off again. Naked toddlers shouldn’t be playing with weapons anyway. Where’s his mother? Still, that’s her problem: someone already called Child Services.
So here you are at an Anti-Valentine's get-together, listening to the somber Kremlin-style music and thinking you could just as easily be attending a wake for Darth Vader. Gazing into the eyes of another partygoer is frowned upon whereas even a peck on the cheek is absolutely taboo. And using that awful four-letter word beginning with L will cost you five bucks in the Cuss Box.
All the food is dismal, from black spaghetti that looks like a nest of snakes to heartychokes topped with self-pity sauce, and finishing with bitter chocolate ventricle cake. The dishes contain such anti-social ingredients as onions, hot peppers and lots and lots of garlic. There’s plenty of coffee and stinky cheese – the double-foot-odor variety - so that for anyone coming too close a quick puff of breath feels like a punch in the kisser.
Valentine’s Day is not necessarily for spouses. How many husbands send their wives one of those assembly-line cards with the emotion expressed in pathetic, clichéd doggerel? You already took her into custody, kept her on a short leash in the kitchen, so why waste good beer money on some bauble and the card with the hokey stanzas? She already knows you love her: words not needed.
Words were paramount, however, for Charles, Duke of Orleans, who composed the world’s first-ever Valentine’s card back in 1416; it’s kept in the British Library and it says nothing even remotely like:
“Forsoothe, fayre ladie, maiden sweete
“Why don’cha let me kisse thy feet.”
It’s in medieval French, written to his wife, allegedly. She was back home in the land of black berets and white flags. He was in the Tower of London, having been captured at the Battle of Agincourt where an English army trounced a French one five times its size. Again.
It’s the fayre damsels of today who buy the lioness’s share annually of the one billion factory-made Valentine’s cards, those with the syrupy sentiments dreamed up by some minimum-wage hack. They also buy most of the crummy chocolates that may or may not be harmful to one’s health, depending on the ratio of chemicals the makers have included. Most eye-opening is a report that some15 percent of women buy red Valentine’s roses... and send them to themselves. It’s important that others notice the delivery.
But really, there’s nothing wrong with being lover-less. Marriage itself has declined dramatically in popularity anyway with only 48 percent of regular working Americans wed against 84 percent 50 years ago.
You’re standing alone at the party brimming with low expectations, but so is everyone else. If you do find yourself talking to another “merrymaker” it’ll be to hear why he or she never found love, or was cast aside.
A stab in the back, a knife in the heart. Like the immortal Fats Waller, did your lover sneer: “I hate you ’cause your feet’s too big!”?
But tonight – so what! You find yourself quoting Friedrich Engels who philosophized: “All that monogamy achieves is a conjugal partnership of leaden boredom known as domestic bliss.” Well said, that man.
Here you are in your crumpled shirt and scuffed shoes. Aftershave? Just a quick pfssht of WD-40 over your stubble. You didn’t even bother to comb your hair and then it happens. Across a garlic-ed room and looking similarly disheveled - the person of your dreams. You’re suddenly, magically... in love.
Quickquickquick. Rush off to Romance Central at Walmart and grab one of those clay ‘Love Ya’ mugs and a card, the last one left, with the cartoon character and that poetically ardent inscription: “Woo hoo hoo, I love you.”
Never mind the sulfur breath, my dear, have another glass of red wine. You want to get married? Um... sure. But first let’s just get marinated.

ENDIT

© 2012 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.