Sunday, February 15, 2015

Public Displays of Devotion

Romance is everything ~ Gertrude Stein

My parents taught me that Valentine's Day, like wedding anniversaries, was meant to be celebrated between two people.

Sure, in elementary school, we all took valentines for everyone in the class, but Mom was adamant as we got older that it was a holiday to celebrate love between two people, not an all-purpose holiday where you sent your aunt, cousin or, god forbid, parents a mushy card.

That made sense to me, so if I was in a relationship, I searched out the perfect card in which to write something meaningful, along with maybe a token of my affection to present to my significant other. But no one knew what we exchanged or said because no one compared notes about the nature of their Valentine's Day.

Talk about the Stone Age.

Now, thanks to Facebook (and for all I know, Instagram and Twitter), it's a Valentine's Day free-for-all of over-sharing.

A single friend who works retail posts a rant about the male madness at the store where she works, but its central purpose is to remind women that this is a holiday for us. And that men go through the motions for two simple reasons: a) they love us and b) they think they'll be in trouble if they don't.

I see her post as sort of a public service announcement.

Several friends post pictures of their cats, some identifying the cats as their valentines, while others are just a general Valentine's Day wish from their cats.

We all know this is just what cat people do no matter what day of the week it is.

A feminist, wife and mother I know posts a beautiful kissing picture from her wedding and comments about a holiday our country has increasingly monetized by feeding off our collective insecurities and need for materialism.

But she also states her complete adoration and deep love for her husband because, she says, our culture values public displays of devotion and she aspires to be a a good wife.

I'm impressed with how seamlessly she has melded social commentary, satire and her feelings.

A favorite photographer and printmaker offers up a photo of a hot chick in honor of St. Valentine. Worthy of note is that the picture was of one of her backyard chickens.

It's hard to fault holiday humor.

In a gesture sure to earn the scorn of men everywhere, a musician friend recorded a song for his girlfriend and posted it online. He even prefaced it by saying he'd gone all the way to Valentine's Day-land and all he'd gotten her was this silly love song.

Sure, I listened, wouldn't you? They recently got engaged in Paris, so clearly he's a highly romantic kind of guy, something I admire, covet even.

But my parents would be appalled at such public displays of devotion and I'm not far off. The gestures are perfectly lovely, but using the online world as a forum goes against every romantic precept instilled in me by a couple who are still in love and married after more than half a century.

Don't get me wrong. I'll take as much romance as I can get and chances are good I won't get anywhere near as much as I'd like in my lifetime. Back in college, my best buddy Leo dubbed me "hopelessly romantic" and that's still a completely apt moniker.

Call me prehistoric, but I just don't want anyone's romantic intentions toward me shared with the online world.

Happily ever after, yes, please, if possible (and my guess is, it's not). Posting about it, not going to happen.

And yet, when I end up at the GWAR bar to wind down Valentines' Day with restaurant staff blowing off steam after the misery of the past few hours (Graffiato's 600 Valentine's Day covers, a Rogue Gentlemen report from the kitchen, Helen's switched to local Bloody mix for Sunday brunch), where exactly is the romance?

Hopeless, absolutely hopelessly. Romance means something different to everyone.


  1. I'm not always current with my reading of your blog but I do keep up. Thanks for the mention. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hopeless romantic. It gives us something to strive for.

  2. Nothing wrong with a little striving!