Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day 2011

So it’s Valentine’s Day and according to NPR it’s not pretty. In fact, the origin is down right dark and gruesome to say the least.

According to Arnie Seipel of NPR, the origin of this day dates back to those crazy Romans who, from February 13-15 (You still have one more day gentlemen) celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. These dudes sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of these animals they had just slain. “The ‘Roman Romantics’ were both drunk and naked," says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
Whoa now!
And if that isn’t enough amorous frolic for the boys, the fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be “coupled” up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was “right.” Wink. Wink.
Whoa again!
Then thanks to Shakespeare and Chaucer, the day of remembrance grew sweeter with romantic prose of love and sonnets of matrimony and paper cards were created and exchanged.
OK, so I left out the entire Catholic part, which is just as grim and dark as the Romans’ part, except there was less whipping of women. Perhaps there was whipping of young … oh, never mind.
Anyways, then in 1913 a little company called Hallmark got wise and started mass-producing cards. Today’s sales for Hallmark are expected to be more than 18 billion bucks. That’s billions folks.
Of course, prior to reading the NPR article by Seipel, I head to our “thank God we have one” Safeway tonight to see if they have daffodils in February cuz my Valentine loves daffodils, not long stem crimson roses, and of course, I want to be part of Hallmark’s financial success… I arrive to a jam-packed floral area and it is men and me for aisles and aisles. In fact, the guys and I are shoulder to shoulder and our mass fills the floral department and extends into produce. I am extremely aware that I’m the only woman in this romantic mob and all of a sudden I see unit 28 to my right eyeing the roses that have a box of Whitman chocolates attached to the glass vase. Across the card and Mylar balloon kiosk, I see Senor Mendoza from 32 holding a white teddy bear with a red bow made in China and across the orchid platform I see this biker dude, I'm going to call him "Jesse Ventura with a bandana on his forehead" that doesn’t live in “the park” but is a frequent fixture at one of the two Valero’s in town. He’s obviously disgruntled by the prices, even though he can use your Safeway Club Card, and is scratching his head as to what he can afford for his lady.
Then there’s me. I scan the $19.99 roses that look like they’ve seen better days, and the heart-shaped boxes of stale but within expiration date chocolates, whose ingredient list has so many fucking “ingredient words” that I haven’t a clue what they mean but I damn well know they’re artificial, and I look at the glass swans filled with red jelly beans and I think to myself, “I can’t breathe right now” and I head for the baking aisle.
I make a conscious choice, and I am well aware that it’s not a Weight Watcher’s choice, but my Valentine absolutely loves lemon bars and we haven’t had them in the house since 2005, when we declared carbs sinful. I purchase all the stuff and head home to preheat the oven. Life is good. Especially when you keep it simple baby.


  1. I had Robert cut the daffodils that were blooming in the strawberry patch and bring them in. I know that they will get battered by the upcoming rains. BTW I can id w/ Wen...when I was 7 I wanted to change my name guessed it...Daffodil;)

  2. Happy Valentine's glad I was born during this century! Marsha

  3. Thank you Miz Fern-Bates, for yet another inspiring, poignant piece. Yep, daffodils are the only way to go for Valentines Day; how else you gonna get local? Those roses aren't growing anywhere near here right now, greenhouses and artificial light notwithstanding....
    I was doing Valentines Day for myself mostly this year, 'cause my girl and I are having a rocky patch ( she did show up later with an olive tree; yes, an actual tree!!) and daffodils are my fav, so after dark on sunday night I raided a patch of daffodils on the side of the road here in Sebastopol. My dog thought I was crazy, pulling to the side of the road and jumping out to cut flowers before another car came. Yes, cutting, because it was pre-meditated and I had brought scissors with me before we left home for Whole Paycheck (aka whole foods).
    I am glad to have some historical background to V-day; I have no doubt the fertility rituals of pagans got all over-lapped by dudes with more armor and different reasons to whip women. And we all know the Catholics were more interested in burning than whipping women.....
    So it's interesting how we have an instinctual need to celebrate connections of the heart, and how Hallmark has co-opted that instinctual need.... and how we have let them.
    Here is a prayer that each of us finds a gentle way to honor our own hearts, and a sweet way to honor each other! Here's to daffodils and lemon bars!!