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.






When love is not madness, it is not love

Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca got it right over 300 years ago when he wrote of love and madness. On this day, we celebrate that reality with love, kisses and cash.

According to a survey reported in today’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review, “on average, lovebirds are expected to spend $116.21 each on V-Day merchandise.” If you’re 25 to 34, your average expenditure on Valentine’s Day is $189; if you’re over 65, then you’re getting by for about $60.

The temporary chocolate, balloon and flower department at the local Kroger—billed as the largest Kroger store in Georgia—was mobbed. Fortunately, I was just passing through en route to the Krispy Kreme doughnut display.

The facial expressions of those lined up, as though waiting for a St. Valentine’s Day massacre, were hard to read, though–surprisingly–nobody was showing outright fear. Maybe the fearful people show up later in the day. Some people were festive and others were determined, while most were businesslike and dutiful as though picking up sentiments of love was no more difficult that grabbing an eight-pack of toilet paper off the shelf.

In grade school, long before the political correctness mob outlawed the practice, each student in homeroom created a special Valentine’s Day mailbox for himself or herself and taped it to his desk. Mailboxes were typically crafted out of large mailing envelopes adorned with hearts, flowers and other cute pictures cut out of magazines.

Meanwhile, each student prepared a stack of cards to be distributed to his/her classmates via these mailboxes. Some people gave cards to everyone. Some only gave cards to their best friends. Many anonymous cards were hastily tucked into mailboxes by people who wanted to say “be my Valentine” without the recipient knowing who had a crush on them.

The practice has been discontinued because some kids didn’t get squat. Who knows, maybe they were ugly or unlovable or beat up people on the playground or wore clothes that had been handed down since Civil War days.

I don’t know, maybe this is good. An empty mailbox is a very hard lesson so early in life. Yet, it could be instructive as well. Some of those with empty mailboxes in 5th grade had full mailboxes in 6th grade because they changed their attitudes rather than having to face another massacre of the heart.

Love can be cruel as well as mad. Plato called it a grave mental disease. Jerome K. Jerome said it’s like measles; we all have to go through it. Victor Hugo said that being convinced we’re loved is life’s greatest happiness. Love’s reviews are mixed, don’t you think?

Is cupid a poor shot, is falling in love hard on the knees, or are there some kinds of madness that we just can’t do without?

You may also like a bit of dark Valentine’s Day satire: Quiet Crowd Celebrates Penicillin G’day

This report was filed by the infamous, yet lovable, special investigative reporter, Jock Stewart of the Junction City “Star-Gazer.’

Or, on a lighter side, you may like a free copy of the “Love and Chocolate” e-book filled with humor, recipes, stories and (of course) love by the authors of Vanilla Heart Publishing. You can download your copy here: Gift from Malcolm

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