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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day sneaks into town

Couple at the Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin
     Tomorrow is Valentine's Day —I hope I'm not the one to tell you. Or maybe it doesn't matter. There seems to be a pronounced lack of commercial Valentine's Day hoopla this year. I was walking across the Loop Wednesday, hoping to take a static and enigmatic photo of some stark red heart-shaped commercial come-on to post here, and found basically nothing. No Valentine's Day specials. No chocolate promotions. Nothing red in the windows of Walgreen's. Nothing from the Potbelly. No "Happy Straight Person's Valentine's Day" in the window of the Chick-fil-A. No red sprinkled heart-shaped donuts at Dunkin's.
    Weird. I'm at a loss to explain it, but can toss out a few theories: A) the economy is still sagging, promotions cost money, the wad was shot at Christmas, so businesses decided it was best to limp on until spring; B) the Winter Olympics sucked all the hoopla out of the room; C) Gay marriage, having ruined the institution of wedlock, is now corrupting romance itself; D) it's Obama's fault. 
      I certainly didn't write anything for the newspaper about Valentine's Day this year. Been there, done that. At this stage of the game, Edie and I don't want to ignore the holiday—that would be sad—but don't beat ourselves up commissioning jewelry and engraving love sonnets on grains of rice either. We know. This is where tradition comes in so handy. Tradition takes the place of surprise—you're doing something, but nothing that's going to roil the placid waters of matrimonial harmony, or break the bank. So we will be lunching, quietly, at Prairie Grass in Northbrook, where we always go, where I hope they will have Door County Sour Cherry Pie, as they have on Valentine's Days past. 
    For those who want a little additional perspective on the heart-shaped holiday, a piece of Valentine's Day candy from The Vault.  Five years ago, I waved the flag in surrender:

     Sure, Valentine's Day is commercial, but then so is getting married. You obtain a license, as if you were opening a bar. Objects of value are exchanged. Oaths are taken. You may even sign a contract. Mine was in Aramaic.
     Those guys who airily announce they won't let themselves be bullied by the Hallmark Corp. into putting on a display of affection on command doth protest too much, methinks.   The implication is that they'll do something special later, on their own terms; the reality is, they never do. I can see them sprawled on the couch all day Sunday, watching basketball, while their honeys glare at them, disappointed.
     Even birds know that love demands you fluff your feathers and show off. At least occasionally. Otherwise, love becomes little more than a shared routine, a practical domestic joining of forces. True, love can't be on display, can't be splendid, all the time. The truth is, love changes year by year, day by day, sometimes second by second. Love is multifaceted, extraordinary, strange and wonderful, fleeting and forever. It stops you in your tracks and makes you run up the stairs. It is the boy tugging on the girl's pigtails and the aged widow who lives for years with the mummified corpse of her husband.
     The mystery of those mummified mate stories falls away when you place them into the continuum of marriage -- enough decades go by, and you don't harp on your partner's peculiarities.
     If you're lucky enough to have a partner. There's a whole lot of lonely in the world. Before decomposition sets in, if you love them, show them. If not on Valentine's Day, when?


  1. I agree, there hasn't been much hoopla about it this year, and I haven't read one mention of it on the Internet. They do have heart-shaped Valentine donuts at Dunkin's, but they sell out of them really fast every day. I finally got to try one yesterday at Ogilvie Station downtown -- cookie dough cream-filled with chocolate on top -- not bad.

  2. Heart-shaped pizza at Giordano's too. You forgot to blame gay marriage: now that the gays can get married, St. Valentine's Day is ruint! And in Chicago, it's all about the Massacre anyway.

    1. Damn Bill! You're a nimbler wit than I! I'm adding that. Beauty of the ductile and malleable computer world. Thanks.

  3. No need for extravagance; On Valentine's Day, my wife is far more appreciative of a box of takeout spaghetti and meatballs and a good, long shoulder rub.

  4. Another silly, commercial holiday.


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