There are two things that I often write about in this venue. Holidays and espresso. But the Coffee House is as uncomfortable as ever, and there are no major holidays coming up.
Oh but there is! Anyone who’s been to a Starbucks within the past few weeks may have noticed the Valentine’s Day themed mugs and bears and things that are available for your convenient purchase. Valentine’s Day! It’s like a month away.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that it is perhaps the least meritable of themed days, invented for commercial reasons. Well, it’s been around forever really, since Romans and all that, but there’s certainly been a commercial push behind it. Sure, all major holidays have corporate backings, but Valentine’s Day as we know it was nearly invented by a mystical gathering of CEOs in crisp suits with bright patterned ties holding tight at their double chins. Balding, gray-haired, round-bellied corporate executives are the most romantic of people, and appropriately thought that love itself deserved a day of celebration. Not that peace-on-earth, Full House kind of love either--- it’s a day for purely freaky love, the kind that happens somewhere between dark alleyways and Parisian boulevards. Arguably the two defining characteristics of humanity are true love and true hate--- Hate Day will come soon enough, I guess.
But I am besides myself and besides my points to be made. The best Valentine’s Days, I think, were in grade school, when everyone exchanged candy and cards with everyone else. The cards, coming in those perforated sheets of nine thin cardboard cards, with little envelopes, were always an immense decision. They came in all kinds of cartoon or movie character themes, and you simply had to find the correct cards to capture the true essence of your personality. I can’t remember what I specifically chose, but I think there were Looney Tunes one year, and probably Ninja Turtles before that. We decorated paper bag mailboxes and passed out sweets and notes, and at the end of the day we all had weighty bags of mutual appreciation. Those were thaaa days.
In second grade, a girl gave me an entire box of chocolates. Specifically, they were those chocolate-covered syrupy cherries, which I now forever associate with that grade and time. In truth, I don’t remember if those chocolates came on Valentine’s Day or on a more arbitrary date, but that doesn’t matter. I was astounded--- a free box of chocolates, all to myself! She must have been smitten by my seven year old witticisms and academic prowess. You have no idea how many times I was Super Citizen of the Week.
The long and short of it is that it’s all been down hill from there. You knew I was going to say that!
In many regards we are all after the simple and pure joy that only the worriless, unfettered, underexposed and over-dependent childhood mind gave us, and the freedom which complete dependence allowed us, through chalky heart-shaped candy and pink teddy bears and white chocolate cupids. Oy vey.