The Things We Do For Love

Sunday is Valentine’s Day, so let me direct your attention to a song called “The Things We Do for Love.”  It was written in the 1970s, and it’s woefully inadequate.  In fact, it’s crap!  The truth is, if you’re doing it right, when you’re in love, you do extraordinary things that all seem perfectly ordinary — and all that ordinary stuff adds up to make lovers feel special.  Let me give you a few examples.

Walking in the rain with a single rose under your coat — when you kinda/almost/nearly forgot the anniversary — because you know she prefers romantic and on time to expensive and a day late.

Suddenly developing an interest in football — just in time for the championship game.

Holding her hair during the sudden tequila volcano that erupted halfway through her brother’s wedding reception — and vaguely wondering what the penalty is for getting caught in the women’s toilet at the Hyatt Regency.

Watching that same stupid movie every year — even though it’s not a Christmas movie and … “Oh for God’s sake!  How many times do you need to shoot him?  Die already!”

Watching that same dumbass movie every Christmas — even though nobody in their right mind would ever mistake Hugh Grant for sexy.

Leaving the last brownie — just because.

Knowing how to shut up and listen when someone’s had a bad day at work.

Hiding chocolate in the tampons box when “we” are on a diet.

Not stealing the chocolate she hid in the tampons box when “we” are on a diet.

Laughing in all the right places of the same story he told at the last dinner party.

Telling the same story over and over again because she thinks it’s funny.

Spending an entire Saturday afternoon going to every store on the planet to find those disgusting frozen burritos that taste like wallpaper paste – just because he likes them.

Dragging the heaviest suitcase in history across two international borders, through three airports, over miles of cobblestones and up four flights of stairs because “I’m not going all the way to Europe looking like a tramp!”

Taking tons of extra stuff (he’s definitely going to want) to Europe — because his suitcase is the size of Rihanna’s evening bag.

Ignoring bodily noises.

Spending a whole weekend watching crap TV, even though the final episode of Season One and the first episode of Season Two are just sitting there, waiting for someone to watch them — but somebody isn’t going to be home until Monday, and you promised not to peek.

Any bikini wax.

Stopping whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re doing it, to hunt for the exact spot under the bra strap where it itches.

Enduring the Just-Got-Into-Bed cold feet on your … “OMG, lady!  You need to see a doctor!  No human being can be that cold and still be alive.”

And finally:

Ruining your dress, dancing in the rain.

Ruining her lipstick, not her mascara.

Valentine’s Day — Fiction


On the first night, they blew out the candles and whispered in the suspicious darkness like spies unravelling their secrets.  The tip-wary waiters kept their distance.  And only a lipstick line on a brandy glass betrayed that they were ever there.  Eventually, there was a cloud-careful moon and a long walk through the hotel-crowded streets smooth with the forgotten footsteps of long ago lovers.

On the second night, they found the river, simmering black with dancing silver ridges — so they hid on the balcony and wondered if anyone would find them.  No one did.  And then, when they had nothing left to say, their shadows leaned forward and undressed them, caressed them and covered them so completely with the night that only their breathing remained.

On the third day, they slept deep into the sun, and folded into the bedsheets and their newspapers, they drank coffee and had breakfast and spilled the orange juice.  They walked past the museums and found a few tales of conflicting folklore from the market merchants who had stories to tell.  Then, as the afternoon slipped into evening, they wandered and wined their way back to the hotel for late night shrimp and avocados.

On the fourth morning, they picked up their telephones from the hotel safe, and when the taxi driver asked them about their luggage, they just shrugged.  At the airport, they phoned the kids to come get them because — after 20 years of Valentine’s Day weekends — Mr. and Mrs. Cooper were not foolish enough to pay for airport parking.

Valentine’s Day: There’s Plenty of Time to Panic

ValentineI don’t care how many Popes resign and, you can forget about your nuclear North Koreans, too; if you’re having a panic attack this morning, it’s because tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day.  It doesn’t matter which side of the hearts and flowers you’re on; Valentine is a big deal.  Once the exclusive province of teenagers and hopeless romantics, these days, he’s strictly uptown and bringin’ the bling.  A simple “Roses are red; violets are blue” Hallmark moment just doesn’t cut it anymore, and most people are looking to De Beers or Alain Ducasse to demonstrate their depth of emotion.  Sounds serious?  It is.  Recent studies have shown that Valentine’s Day is now right up there with St. Paddy’s and Hallowe’en on our festive calendar, with an anxiety rating that rivals Christmas.  Do I have your attention?

It wasn’t always that way, though, St. Valentine himself is practically historically anonymous.  We have no idea who he was, what he was and only the vaguest notion of when and where he was.  In fact, chances are good he was at least three different people cobbled together by a fledgling church in need of some local celebrity.  The story goes that while waiting for martyrdom he “miraculously” cured his jailer’s daughter`s blindness and wrote her a card (which she could then see) signed “Your Valentine.”  It’s the stuff of legend but hardly provable.  Today, Valentine is not on the A-list of Catholic saints, and his questionable relics are in a number of churches, scattered all over Europe.  Actually, if it wasn’t for February 14th, most people wouldn’t pay much attention to the guy.

Our St. Valentine, the secular one that lovesick young people bankrupt themselves over, was born in the imagination of Geoffrey Chaucer.  You remember Geoff, he`s the poet whose long and windy Canterbury Tales has been terrorizing undergrads for the last eight hundred years.  Anyway, before Chaucer ever thought about Canterbury, he wrote something called The Parlement of Foules, which, at 700 lines, is a bit windy itself.  In it, he sets the scene in a throwaway couplet referring to Seynt Volantynys Day (St. Valentine`s Day) as the day when birds gather to chose their mates.  The idea caught on in medieval England (it’s where we get the birds and the bees metaphor from, as well.)  The Christian martyr Valentine became hopelessly confused with the more robust and ribald Roman god Cupid, and by the time Billy Shakespeare was wearing the King’s doublet, Valentine’s Day was universally celebrated as the day when spring fever met courtly love.valentine3

For the next four centuries, Valentine’s Day lounged around as a once-a-year occasion to declare one’s love — usually in the form of a flowery verse or paper card.  By our time, in the late the 20th century, it had been reduced to a harmless Victorian hangover.  We gave out valentines promiscuously, more as greeting than anything else, but nobody minded.  The day was reserved for school children and newly-minted couples who were busy ODing on simpy.  Life was good.

Then, sometime in the late 1970s, when no one was looking, all hell broke loose.  February 14th became the hottest date night of the year, and suddenly Valentine’s Day was the eater of souls.  No credit card was safe.  Dinner and a movie just wasn’t good enough anymore.  Elegant dining was de rigueur with the appropriate price tag.  Paper valentines had better have some jewelry attached, and even weekend trips and car keys were not out of the question.  Lovers and wannabes were expected to fork out some serious cash as a measure their affection, and for thirty years, we’ve been upping that ante.

So, today, as you sit there wondering if tomorrow’s champagne and caviar, moonlight, hot air balloon ride is going to melt your lover’s heart, you need to understand one more thing.  Statistically, more people commit adultery on February 15th than any other day of the year.  If that doesn’t raise your anxiety level, I don’t know what will.