Valentine's Day, Fibucetera 14, 40 A.B.

"You cannot step twice into the same river
for other waters are ever flowing on to you."

- Heraclitus


     That old saying of Heraclitus (Born: sometime long ago; Died: sometime almost as long ago) came to me today because... well, probably because I have way too much time on my hands.  But also because of something I found in my local neighborhood grocery some weeks ago.  
     It wasn't much, really.  Just a display of Valentine's Day cards.  You know - of boxed sets such as kids exchange in school.  We exchanged such cards ourselves, over 30 years ago.  It was surprising to see that such a quaint, low-tech tradition endures.
     Then I looked a bit closer.  Something had caught my eye there, lurking among the Disney products and the cupids and the hearts....


     Yes, there it was: A genuine boxed set of cards for the Day o' Love put out by the World Championship Wrestling people.  
     8 Different Designs!
     32 Fold & Seal Cards In All!
     How could I resist?

     Remarkably, they proved to be just a tad disappointing.  I mean, no matter how closely I examined them after rushing back home and ripping open the box, I didn't find a single one with the touching words "Be My Valentine Or I'll Kick Your Ass!" printed on them, front or back.
     Just an oversight, I'm sure.
     Just wait until next year and see.

     Of course I bought them for their camp value.  Why, even the cashier had to shake her head and laugh as she rang them up.  What - did you actually think for a second that I sent these out??
     Why, I ought to rip your -
     Sometimes I'm just such a victim of my culture.

     Anyway, I now have a box of 32 Valentines to add to my collection of odd artifacts from this strange civilization of yours that I'm still trying to figure out.
     Do you have any idea how big wrestling is now?  How the World Wrestling Federation's "Raw is War" show is the most watched program on cable?  That "SmackDown!" is the #1 show on UPN?  That WWF's videos are often #1, that wrestling figures outsell Pokémon, that autobios by two wrestlers are high on the bestsellers list, that WWF is projecting sales of $340 million this year, that -
     Oh, never mind.  I really don't care.  Why should anyone else?

     I've tried to imagine what might have happened had I tried to give a girl back in the third grade one of these Valentines.  I can't quite pull it off.  The girl keeps stopping me as I try to drop the thing in her box by saying, "Hey!  What are you doing trying to stick me with a card from 2000?!  It's 1967, idiot - let's do it again until we get it right!"
     Turns out that's very distracting.

     Where imagination fails me, however, memory succeeds.
     I remember how the red of the day was always a nice relief from the blinding white snow.
     I remember how hard I tried to decorate my shoebox card receptacle - and how the pretty construction paper I pasted on the outside never quite made up for the smelly old shoes I'd absent-mindedly left inside.
     But most of all I remember how our teachers always required us to bring enough cards for everyone in the class.  Seems it wasn't until sixth grade or so that incipient sexual rivalry began trumping the notion of universal love.  At least that's when I think it was that Freddy Loboshevski turned and cruelly called me a Very Bad Name for doing something nothing worse than trying to slip a cupidy card into his box exactly like I had for years and years.  But then Freddy's dad drove a delivery truck for a soda pop company and it was easy to write his behavior off that day as the result of too much free effervescence.
     It wasn't until I'd been married a few years and my wife finally blew her top over my promiscuous distribution of frilly cards that I realized Things Had Changed.

     To this day, I really don't understand what happened.  First I was indoctrinated in socialized love and sent to a re-education camp if I deviated from that at all.  Then one day there was this capitalist revolution no one told me about and I was suddenly expected to believe solely in privately-owned and -operated sole-provider romance.  It was and remains all very confusing to me, and no matter how hard I stare into the eyes of Diamond Dallas Page or Goldberg tonight, the esoteric world of the economics of the heart continues to elude me.
     Lucky devils.  As bloody and violent as their own world appears to be, at least we now know they have a script to go by....

     It was from this confused state that I tried to flee by taking a nap tonight.  Alas, too much residual sugar and Red Dye #2 from the day's other main activities made it impossible for peace to come.
     Instead, I was transported back to my wedding day.  As I was just about to say "I do" my first grade teacher jumped up screaming, "NO, Danny!  You know better than that.  Either you marry everyone or you marry no one at all.  Now be polite and show some manners before I kick your ass!"
     What could I say to that?  My wife-to-be was a mere substitute teacher back then and clearly outranked by this experienced professional.  I had no choice but to restate the vows I'd just spoken so as to include all mankind.
     At which point Freddy, my sister, and the minister himself all got up and left.
     And my wife-to-be turned to those remaining and announced her decision to settle for a cute little gerbil....

     Other than that, it's been a very pleasant day, full of the kind of love, affection, and foot massages most worthless purveyors of blather can only get by trading cigarettes to their cell mate for.  I'm a very lucky man, and I know it.
     Still, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to be a man who also had it All Figured Out.
     Maybe if I tried starting with something simpler and worked my way back up to Valentine's Day.
     Maybe if I started reading up on St. Patrick's Day, beginning tomorrow.

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(©Now by Dan Birtcher, toe-tagged holiday hit-and-run victim)