Monday, February 13, 2012

The Slave of St. Valentine

Though at first blush distinct in the male firmament, the Woman Who Has Everything and the Woman Who Wants Nothing become as twin stars, indistinguishable at great distances and particularly come Valentine's Day - a day which, oddly, never seems to be at a great distance from any other day, surprising some of us as it does year after year with its alarmingly sudden proximity. An impossible day, filled with impossible hope and promise.

"Don't mess with me."

Well, strictly speaking, the women in question do not become impossible so much as the predicaments of their respective chevaliers. The One Who Has Everything wants either everything or something - anything - not yet conceived; the latter wants nothing at all, she assures you in good faith. In either case there are no clues given. The god of jest has inevitably conjoined the former with the Fellow of Infinite Resource; the latter he has joined for life with the Fellow of Dismal Imagination. The wrong knights for the right ladies.

My lot falls with the latter. Yet try as I might, I can never quite accept (without an ennervating mix of shame and remorse) those regular protestations of volo nihil, fearing as I do the eventual noli me tangere. Or as Marcus Antoninus is said to have said of Cleopatra, "No gift, no asp." So, as for St. Valentine's Day in the post-chivalrous age, dies jacta es - the die is cast, the deck is stacked, the cards are marked, all the concupiscent providences are provided for, none in our favor. 

Hallmark Cards has won another engagement in the War to Commodify Sentiments. Some of us are hostages. Another Faberge egg is out of the question . . .


. . . since they're already crowding out the display cabinet that houses the extensive Hummel collection I've assembled in the futile hope of fatally gagging the dog . . .

A modern car has specialized and readily satisfied needs, many not entirely understood by the distaff population which is the subject and beneficiary of the day. Which leaves out the Ferrari Testa Rossa 250 I had meant to park as a surprise under the porte cochere on the happy morn. Guess I'll just call it a keeper and not mention it.

I'm finally old enough, however, to have arrived at a solution of sorts for the Man Who Cannot Buy His Way Out, the man for whom society's frail safety net has unravelled and terminally frayed. It occurred to me some years ago that any woman wishes her valentine to share in her hopes and dreams, whether or not that object of her affections can finally and wholeheartedly accept the details of how she wishes her house and grounds to look. She would not likely put it as baldly as "slavery," but one year I did, and it was immediately and unhesitatingly accepted as a true empathic commitment. A valentine, if you wish, with all its concomitant appurtenances and favors.

"For a day," I said, "I'll be your slave."

I don't have the Ferrari any longer but I'm hoping to buy it back. I've saved a few bucks but my back is gone. We still get along fine. I've just got to get another day off so I can work around the yard.

Happy? Hell yes. Happy.

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