Even a married lady like me gets annoyed by Valentine's Day spam. This spam advertised a combination fitness centre and dating service. Personally, I cannot imagine combining a gym workout with dating. I'm the lady what got the male attendant banned from the University of Toronto Athletic Centre weight room during Women-Only Hour. (The whole point of Women-Only Hour was to prevent men from staring at women while we worked out, but the worst offender was actually that attendant.) Incidentally, I had a big old argument with a prof about Women's Only Hour. He thought it was unfair to men, but meanwhile my Dad was horrified a Jesuit was working out in a public gym in the first place. It made him (Dad) feel nostalgic for the 1950s. Meanwhile, my shock when the tremendously handsome, muscular man at the chest press put on his glasses and was thereby revealed to be my prof---!
Let's just say that I am still a big fan of Women Only Hours at gyms.
Anyway, the annoying ad reminded me that it is time I reasserted my solidarity with Singles readers by agreeing that Valentine's Day is annoying when you're Single and very often when you are not Single but male. And hordes of girlfriends and wives are disappointed on Valentine's Day because they think of it as a Big Deal and think their boyfriends and husbands should too.
Well, I love my husband, but I usually go home to Canada in mid-February, so no V-Day for us. We must have had some V-Days together, though, as I recall that his traditional V-Day present is a handful of snowdrops from the woods. In my opinion, this is the cheapest and yet most romantic V-Day gift in the world.
The idea of fitness + dating epitomizes for me the reduction of love to Luv, love being a real, time-built relationship between a man or woman and his or her family, his or her country or people, his or her best friends, his or her patron saints, his or her God. Luv is the heady rush of infatuation that either calms down into marriage or burns out, leaving ashes. I am grateful for the stage of marital love called Luv, for it transformed my life and set B.A. and me in the right direction. However, I hate how it utterly drowns out the rest of romantic love and the other loves. The airwaves and television are obsessed with sex and treat family life as a carnival sideshow or opportunity for adverts.
One of the wonderful things about marriage is that it transforms the person you are crazy about into a member of your family--as far as you are concerned, the most important member of your family. This makes him or her just as loveable and nearly as annoying as other members of your family. I am sure that when B.A. saw me sitting demurely on a sofa in the New Town, politely dabbing at my nose with a tissue, he did not foresee me this morning, running around yelling "Where the H*** are my KEYS?" Any member of my current family could have warned him, but fortunately they were not there.
I had an email today--I haven't answered it yet--and it is from someone who is dreading going on a first date. She doesn't like going on dates, and I am not surprised. Dates are like going to the dentist. You don't enjoy going, but you have a vague sense that something might be wrong if you don't. The difference is that you really should go to the dentist. Your teeth won't fall out if you refuse to go on dates.
My advice will be to think of dates not as a way of meeting future boyfriends but a way of meeting future male friends. I'm not much of a networker on my own behalf (too shy), but I enjoy introducing friends and acquaintances to other friends and acquaintances I think they should know. It's good to have new people over for supper, and to bring this or that person--especially younger ones--into the old gang.
I think friendship is a place where Luv is just that more likely to mature into Love--either marital love or the love of friends. The relationship does not begin with the artificiality of a cafe, or the frank carnality of a bar or (ye saints above!) exercise studio.
O tempores, o mores! How I wish we could return to the days of variety in love--with popular songs about Mother and Home and Land of Hope and Glory and the Old School and the Regiment. Sure, some of it was sentimental and false, but it gave a truer and more generous picture of human emotion than the sludge on the radio of today. I'd like to add to the list Grandma, Grandpa, Teacher, Mentor, Dear Old Auntie and Kind Mr Contini at the Ice Cream Shop.
It was my birthday recently, and look away now if you don't want to read sappy married people stuff. Sappy married people stuff ahead. Okay, so B.A. and I have two standard squabbles. They are A) the state of the kitchen and B) the hours I spend studying Polish. The kitchen alone is worth hours of traditional marital discord. The Polish adds an exciting international note, plus drama when I weep because compared to my parents and brothers and sisters I am really bad at languages. So it was particularly kindly of B.A. to wash all the dishes from my birthday lunch, even though he cooked the birthday lunch, and really very generous when I opened my new it-bag and found a volume of Polish poetry.
Wah. If I should perish early, don't kill each other in your battle to win B.A. for yourselves.
OPERATION VALENTINUS: Okay, you know the drill. If you are Single, pick three to five Single friends to whom to send valentines and chocolate. This way, even if you get nothing, you will have given three to five deserving people a lift. I will soon put out a sign-up feature. Meanwhile, on the theme of love (as opposed to luv), please mention below the most thoughtful gift you have ever received. It can be from a parent, teacher, priest, friend, sibling, cousin, uncle, aunt, grandparent, fiancé, spouse. Anyone you love and who loves you in a REAL, lasting way.