The day of courtly love is almost upon us. Attention everyone, Thursday next is Valentine’s Day. It’s the day one shows a loved one their place in one’s heart by giving a token of their affection.
It doesn’t have to be much—a box of candy, a piece of jewelry, or a nice dinner out.
Whatever demonstrates your feeling is more than appropriate. For a curmudgeon like me just to go shopping is maddening all by itself. There is a bewildering amount of in-store sales, half-off on diamonds (which I know absolutely nothing about), cards that exclaim “Be Mine”; and, syrupy stuff that proclaims, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Here’s what I really thought . . . “Oh, Lord, HELP”
Cards are really important. They come in all shapes and sizes—from big ones that talk, play music or say things that are really hard to hear. You almost have to put the card up to your ear and listen carefully. Me, I have to ask for silence in the room to hear the message.
The message contained in a Valentine’s card is important and there are a lot of choices. Being a curmudgeon, I like to rely on the poetic classics a la Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I used lines from “How Do I Love Thee?” a few times with great success. Another line I favored was: “I love thee with a passion put to use,” which now, I’m sorry to admit, is a distant memory.
William Shakespeare’s Love Sonnet 18 has some interesting and meaningful lines. “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate” will work if followed by a box of chocolates or a nice-sized diamond.
One year, I swallowed my pride and waded into a Victoria Secret’s store. Bad idea, bad. The shapely young saleswoman, younger than my daughter, took one look at me, and I knew I was toast. She immediately overwhelmed me with exotic items meant for an earlier era of my life with prices that made yesteryear’s inflation rate seem miniscule. When I asked for a certain perfume my wife wanted, my new-found bodacious clerk led me to a counter full of little bottles with a look of, “Yeah, you old fart, it’s right next to the crates of Viagra.” Needless to say, when I left there with my measly purchase, I swore never to return.
Going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, what a joke. I like to take my significant other out for dinner at least once a week. Getting a table is usually not much of a problem in our little town, but on Valentine’s Night, it’s a huge problem. You’d think the restaurants would set up more tables for two, but they don’t. Every year, I spend the week before the big night looking for a table for two. You’d think by now I would have learned . . . but no, I just keep repeating the same old mistake—waiting too long.
This year I think I might settle for giving a dozen roses and having a quiet dinner at home. I’ll regale her on her Valentine’s card with the words of one Jessie B. Rittenhouse, “My debt to you, Beloved, is one I cannot pay in any coin of any realm on any reckoning day.”
Wow, even we curmudgeons can shine when it counts.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you--keep it simple and be safe.
(Larry Momo writes columns for the Washington Times Community Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)