Monday, February 13, 2012

What Is This Thing Called "Love"

This time, I start it:

“If UPS rings the doorbell at midnight, it’s for me.”

“What?” my husband says, although he’s eyeing me suspiciously.

“Yeah, I’ve ordered the whole Twilight box set so we can watch it for Valentine’s Day, and it comes out at midnight tonight,” I inform him knowing just how anti-sparkly vampire he is.

“Cool, I just ordered you the genuine pink cubic zirconia ring that spins and plays music,” he counters.  “Nothing says, Happy Valentine’s Day better that Salt n’ Peppa.”

“Fantastic!” I say, trying to keep a straight face.  “I’ll wear it when we watch the bed-breaking scene.”

My husband’s face goes blank.  “Bed breaking scene?”

“Yeah, when Bella and Edward finally ‘get together,’ it’s so intense, he breaks the bed,”
I explain.

“Vampires must buy cheap beds,” my husband says.  “At $4,000, I’m not breaking our bed.”

“Does this mean I have to return the glitter make-up I bought for you?”

O.k., so maybe we’re a bit jaded after being married for almost 15 years.  But there’s also something insidious about holidays created by the greeting card industry (Mother and Father’s Day were also card created holidays).  While Valentine’s Day is a Saint’s Feast Day(St. Valentine, of course), we as a nation don’t celebrate any other Saint to the same level.  Like Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of our immigrant ancestral roots and St. Nicholas isn’t celebrated so much as portrayed as a facilitator for Christmas.  Perhaps they need better agents.

Greeting cards have done a bang up job promoting Valentine’s Day, enough so that some people actually feel anxious and depressed when the holiday passes them by, that it breaks our heart to see Charlie Brown waiting for that Valentine from the Little Red-Haired Girl, and that there’s a whole film about the trials and tribulations of the day.  The card industry, and by extension the floral, candy and jewelry industry have so ingrained into our social psyche the importance of recognizing love and affection on Valentine’s Day that grade school students are told to give EVERYONE a Valentine lest any child feel unloved. Children are gullible and fragile, adults should be less so.

It’s interesting too, that the Valentine’s ads are targeted towards men giving women gifts.  Don’t men want to feel the Valentine’s love as well?  Don’t they like chocolate and jewelry?  Lingerie is a bit touchier, although I don’t think men call it “lingerie.” 

I once gave my husband a pair of silk boxers with hearts on them for Valentine’s Day.  I think it kind of spooked him, seeing the flimsy material flutter as he released it from the box.

“Try them on,” I suggested with a bit of a leer.

He did, but he didn’t look happy about it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It feels weird,” he said.

“What do you mean, weird?”

He frowned.  “They’re all slippery and slide-y,” he said.

“Yeah, that’s kind of sexy, isn’t it?” I said.  “Kind of like these?” I said.

By the look of horror on his face, it was probably a mistake that I pulled out a pair of silk tap panties I had from my lingerie drawer.  That was the last time I saw those boxers.

Of course, there is the subliminal message for men in the Valentine’s Day ads, “Give your wife/girlfriend our x, and she’ll be very happy.”  But, I guess without the nudge and wink, some men still weren’t getting the message.  A recent floral delivery ad pretty much spelled it out, showing a sultry woman getting suggestively dressed, and then stating, “Gentlemen, it’s simple.  Give and you shall ‘receive’.”  It doesn’t get any less subtle than that on regular t.v.  It would be interesting to see if Valentine’s Day sales increased after the ad aired, a cluster of men saying, “Ohhhhhh!  I get it!”

It’s not that I’m totally against the idea of Valentine’s Day.  The way our lives are these days, it’s easy to get wrapped up in deadlines, financial woes, and the daily drudge.  So, it is nice to get a little nudge to remind us to touch base with our loved ones, to take some time out to recognize our partners, family, and friends who love us with all of our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Appreciation doesn't mean chocolate,
although chocolate is always appreciated.
“No gifts, o.k.?” my husband and I say almost simultaneously.

We both have giftphobia.

We’ll exchange cards.   We won’t go out since restaurants tend to be over crowded for the occasion, with service below par and food suffering as well.  I’ll make my husband’s favorite dinner and pick up dessert.  Wine will be involved, perhaps even cocktails. We’ll snuggle on the couch with the pups, watching some silly romantic comedy on t.v.  At some point, laughing at the ridiculousness of the film, we’ll catch each other’s eye, thankful that we’re loved and not just for the day.

In honor of Benny Hill, “What is this thing called, love?”

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