Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


Reflections on an Artificial Holiday

Today is Valentine's Day, and you know what that means.

Absolutely nothing.

Yeah, I'm a little bitter. See, I just broke up with my girlfriend of 6 months and I'm a little bummed out about it. I'd feel even worse, but I guess when you get technical, she wasn't really my girlfriend; we were just "going out." And when I say "going out," I mean "going out" like my daughter used to "go out" with boys in 6th grade. We never actually went out anywhere; we just had an understanding that we were an "item."

OK, maybe "item" is too strong a word, but we were planning on going out sometime in the near future. We had plans to go out a time or twelve, but something always seemed to come up at the last minute to postpone our date. She had to work late; her car broke down; her son's pet iguana was sick and needed to be watched, you know, important things. I mean, you just can't ask a woman to leave her son at home with a sick lizard, right? Besides, I figured she was simply being coy, in keeping with the long standing Southern tradition that says the gentleman must pursue, while the lady must not allow herself to be caught too easily lest her virtue be questioned.

Although the truth be told, I'm all for questionable virtue.

So I was prepared for a little give and take, a little phone tag here and there, but that restraining order she filed last week really made me think that she wasn't serious about our relationship.

So I broke up with her.

So now it's Valentine's Day and I'm once again available. Any takers?

OK, to tell the truth, the story above is completely and totally untrue. I've never had a restraining order taken out on me that I know of, nor did I just break up with anyone since I haven't had a real relationship since the separation and divorce (and probably for a year or so before that). I just figured out that a made up holiday like Valentine's Day deserved a made up story.

The idea that we need a special day to celebrate love has always struck me as cynical and odd, but maybe that's just me; I've never enjoyed Valentine's Day. When I was in love, I didn't need a day to remind me how wonderful it was. And when I was single, I really didn't need a day to remind me how wonderful it was. And when I tell you that the latter has far outweighed the former, you may begin to understand why I'm not exactly enamored with the day.

Probably the worst was exchanging Valentine's cards in grade school. I was the weird kid in school (Some things never change, do they?) so I was used to being ignored on Feb 14th. Oh, I'd get a sackful of cards, but that was because the nuns had a policy that if you were going to give a Valentine to one kid, you had to give one to everyone. My sack would fill with the cards you could buy at K-Mart; 300 for $1.98. They didn't even have envelopes, just two lines on the back saying To: and From: The way to tell if somebody really liked you was to see if they filled out the To: line. If you got a card with the To: line filled out, that meant that the little girl liked you, or that she had a very organized mother.

I got cards where the To: line had been erased, scribbled over, whited out, or, in one rather memorable occasion, cut out completely.

With that kind of beginning, you'll understand if I don't wax rhapsodical about the wonders of February 14th. When you look at it realistically, it's a cold day in the middle of winter with absolutely nothing to recommend it, other than the fact that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition will be coming out shortly, and the Daytona 500 is less than a week away.

Let's take a stroll through history and see how this festival of love got it's start, shall we?

There are several possible contenders for the role of Saint Valentine, all of which have two things in common: their name, and the fact that they died badly. Catholic tradition knows of 3 Valentines in the Roman days, all of whom were beheaded.

Talk about losing your head for love...

To add insult to injury, the Catholic Church no longer lists Saint Valentine's Day as an official church holiday.

There was also the Roman custom of Lupercalia which was celebrated in mid February. In that ceremony, the young women of the village would be forced to put their names into a lottery, and the men would draw out the name of the girl who would be his sexual partner for the next year.

Think about that the next time you're opening a Valentine from an admirer.

And finally, people in the Middle Ages believed that birds picked their mates for the year in the middle of February, so they figured thay might as well do so as well.

Bird brains, beheadings, and sexual slavery; I can see why this holiday is celebrated so widely!

Come on, folks, do we really need a day to remind us to celebrate something as important as love? I hear all the time about how "Life is precious and we nust cherish and protect it" and that's a load of garbage. Life is cheap and ubiquitous; it's everywhere. Ma Nature set off on of the largest explosion known to man (including nuclear bombs) on Mount St. Helens. The slopes of St. Helens were buried in hundreds of feet of searing ash and mud, killing everything in it's path. The devastation and destruction of life was total.

There were flowers growing on those slopes in less than a year.

Life isn't precious by itself; love makes it that way.

If you want a day to celebrate love, next Tuesday or a week from Friday works just as well as today. Even better in fact, because it will come from the heart, and not the calendar. I look at Valentine's Day like my father looked at New Year's Eve: it's for amateurs.

That's what I think anyway, but I'm single, so what do I know.

The pun is intended by the way. The fact that the pun is in a dead language simply confirms my earlier observation that some things never change. Sigh. If you didn't notice the pun, don't feel bad. That just means you're not a geek.
Posted by Rich
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