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Posts from the ‘love’ Category

Happy Valentine’s Day – a time to remember loved ones serving far away

When I served aboard the U.S.S. Ranger (CVA-61) during the Vietnam War, I often “got selected” to work night shift as editor of the shipboard newspaper. In those days before WiFI and cell phones, there was no instant news other than this mimeographed, four-to-six page newspaper on legal size paper that I handed out to berthing areas, offices, the mess decks, and other compartments just before reveille every morning in 1968

Wikipedia photo

While my headline “Ho Chi Minh is Dead” probably got the most attention, my most popular headline–on a slow news day–was “A Modern Love Story.” Since we weren’t supposed to take those papers off the ship, I have no copies. So, I no longer know where this love story happened or when or even the details. It ran on the Associated Press wire and filled up a fair amount of the front page of “The Daily Shield.”

Basically, two lovers were separated from each other, perhaps by the war, perhaps by transfers to new jobs or colleges, or the random vicissitudes of fate. Like a tear-jerker movie, the young man and young woman spent many days months or years trying to find each other again. They went through hell and high water, never gave up, and finally–by the end up the story–were standing arm and arm, perhaps in the sunrise, filled with hope.

At a time when there was a long line of sailors who thought they had VD outside the sick bay door after every liberty call at a sailor town, that anyone on the ship would read “A Modern Love Story” seemed unlikely. After all, these are the tough sailors who said, as they went into town, “if you not in bed by nine o’clock, you might as well go back to the ship.”

Our cruises (as we called them) lasted about nine months. Being away from wives, fiancées, girlfriends, and parents for that long was more difficult than rough sailor talk about bar girls would lead one to believe. Even so, I was unprepared to walk through the mess decks at breakfast and find an unusual silence. The men weren’t talking, laughing, or complaining about the food. They were reading the story, some sharing the paper with others at the table. They cheered when they got to the end of it as the young lovers were reunited.

Pure schmaltz. The hard-boiled reporters and copyeditors back in the States would have relegated such a story to the features section, not page one. I didn’t run the story because I thought it would bring out the best in everyone, I ran it because I was desperate for enough copy to fill up the paper.

The Ranger was a flagship, and that meant the admiral and his staff we aboard. The following day when I arrived before the crack of dawn at the flag office, the admiral himself was standing there waiting for his papers. This wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was shaking his hand as he said, “If you find any more love stories, print them.” “Aye aye, sir.”

My good luck made me look like a genius, and that was unusual.

If your husband or wife or son or daughter or mother or dad is serving his or her country far away, remember them always, but especially on February 14th.

–Malcolm

 

 

Love is a lot of little things

“I say this is a wild dream—but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you assert yourself the more you want me, need me. Your voice getting hoarser, deeper, your eyes blacker, your blood thicker, your body fuller. A voluptuous servility and tyrannical necessity. More cruel now than before—consciously, wilfully cruel. The insatiable delight of experience.” – From a love letter of Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin

Valentine’s Day has come and gone this year with (fortunately) nobody sending a Facebook message or a Tweet saying, “Happy VD, Malcolm.”

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a smoking hot letter like the one quoted above from Henry to Anaïs. As a shy, retiring writer, I don’t think I could cope with that.

On Valentine’s Day, I was at the local hospital’s surgical center for a laser procedure called YAG that removes a cloudy film from one’s eyes that sometimes occurs after cataract surgery. It’s painless, takes only a few minutes, and then one goes home. The Center requires a driver, so my wife got up at 4:30 a.m. to drive me to my 6:00 a.m. appointment.

While several Facebook friends commented about eye surgery on Valentine’s Day, having your spouse drive you to the hospital while it’s still dark in the morning is more what love is than “A voluptuous servility and tyrannical necessity.”

In a series of e-mails with my publisher, I wished her a happy Valentine’s Day. She said that after 25 years of marriage, she and her husband don’t make a big deal out of February 14th. She said that her husband “re-routed the washer hose out through the dryer vent until we get the septic tank replaced so we can still do laundry. If that doesn’t say love, I don’t know what does.”

My wife and I watched the pairs figure stating via NBC’s Olympics coverage. Then we fed the cats and had a snack. These everyday moments seem more like love to me than Resurrection after resurrection.

Some couples go out to a restaurant for a $100 dinner with a another $100 for champagne. Then there’s dancing or, let’s say, the opera or a play. At my age, I must confess that all of that’s way too much trouble, something out of romance novels that seems overly orchestrated in real life. Can’t we just splurge with a $15.00 bottle of wine and a Stouffer’s TV dinner and exchange silly cards in red envelopes?

You know I love you because I cleaned up the last hair ball one of the cats left of the carpet. Or, because I stopped by CVS for your prescription. Or, because all your clothes went through the washer and dryer and ended up neatly folded in your dresser drawer. Seriously, playing out a steamy scene from a romance novel would probably kill both of us.

Perhaps you have also discovered this truth about Valentine’s Day even though love remains a many splendoured thing.

–Malcolm