CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)



Roses are red

You know that it’s true

That if I had 50 bucks

I’d buy some for you.

Guys, in case you haven’t noticed, and if you haven’t, you’re dead meat already, today is a holiday and it ain’t, as the girl who cuts my hair so succinctly put it, Groundhog Day.

Today is Valentine’s Day, that one day of the year we’re supposed to proclaim our love for our significant other as though putting up with them for the other 364 days of the year wasn’t proof enough.

It’s a day the merchandisers have latched onto to fill the void between Christmas and Easter after an attempt to market chocolate groundhogs went over like doughnuts for Lent.

Valentine’s Day has grown to be associated with roses and boxes of chocolates, although, contrary to what Forrest Gump would have you believe, life (and love) is not like a Whitman Sampler. Life (and love) is more like a bag of those little heart-shaped candies. Sometimes you reach in and pull out one that says, “You’re the Greatest,” but most of the time you get the one that says, “Drop Dead.”

And don’t get me started on roses. Seriously. That’s because my mother used to be in the flower business and I know that, by the end of the day today, most florists will have such short fuses that I wouldn’t want to strike a match on the same continent with them.

Suffice it to say that the only way we’re going to get the price of roses down for Valentine’s Day is to do away with the Rose Bowl parade in January or switch to some flora more in keeping with the season, like dead grass.

I can’t understand why we all are so willing to embrace the notion of giving flowers in the dead of winter and I can’t seem to get anybody interested in swapping snowmen on the Fourth of July.

I’m a little heartened, however, by a new trend in Valentine’s gifts that involves the marketing of skimpy, frilly, barely there women’s underwear. I have on my desk, for the purposes of research only, no less than 10 glossy color pictures of women dressed in enough lace to cover a good sized freckle.

One shows a beautiful blonde in a lace-up teddy that’s only partially laced up, smiling and holding what has to be a very happy cocker spaniel puppy. The suggestion is that, if you buy their product, your wife or girlfriend can look like this, too. Maybe. If she had long floppy ears and a small black nose.

But we really shouldn’t complain about the standard Valentine’s Day gifts. If we celebrated the holiday for what it really is, we’d be exchanging severed heads and wolves. That’s because it started out as a celebration of not one but two saints named Valentine.

One was beheaded in 269 A.D. on a road known as the Flaminian Way in Rome and the other was beheaded later, also on the Flaminian Way. This really tells us nothing about how the occasions came to be associated with love, but it does tell us to avoid the Flaminian Way.

An even more ancient celebration around the 14th of February was called Lupercalia and was essentially the Roman version of Mother’s Day created by the founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a wolf.

So while you’re bellyaching about the cost of a dozen roses, imagine what a severed head would set you back. And good luck finding a wolf.

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal.

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