— By LARRY M. JONES
Despite having somewhat dubious qualifications for the role, I felt I should use this bully pulpit to remind my male readers that this coming Thursday is Valentine’s Day.
There’s still ample time to get a little box of chocolates, a nice romantic card or even reservations for two at some quaint little bistro. Guys, let me make one thing perfectly clear – you can never, I say again never, overdo it when it comes to romancing your “sweetie.”
Throughout my life, I have been reminded by more than one member of the opposite sex that I am not the most romantic of men. I suppose I could be referred to as “romantically challenged.” Perhaps, I tend to let logic, reason and practicality interfere with my suave and debonair inner self.
I’ve mentioned it before, but the first time I asked my wife Helen out on a dinner date happened to be on Valentine’s Day. As we arrived at the restaurant, we found a line waiting to be seated. There were dozens of high school couples dressed to the nines. As it turned out it was prom night, in addition to being Valentine’s Day. Helen thought it was so romantic of me to ask her out on such a delightful occasion. It was quite some time later in our relationship that I ‘fessed up that I actually didn’t have a clue that it was Valentine’s Day.
Celebration of St. Valentine’s Day supposedly originated as a liturgical service in honor of a Christian saint by the name of Valentinus. With origins dating back to the Roman Empire, St. Valentine was a third century Christian priest whose ministry was near Rome. The Emperor Claudius II had him executed for spreading the Christian beliefs. In subsequent centuries, legends grew and the customs were adapted to reflect the martyrdom of St. Valentine.
Adoption of the holiday as a celebration of romantic love was first recorded in Geoffrey Chaucer’s work, Parlement of Foules. Translated from Old English, he wrote, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh to choose his mate.” It was during this medieval and Renaissance period that the tradition of sending cards and tokens of endearment to sweethearts became established.
I fondly recall that as a youngster, I would carefully make valentines for each of my school classmates. If I remember correctly, we would buy packets of coarse paper cards and envelopes. With these we would cut out the cards and envelopes, paste them together, and carefully choose which card to send to which classmate. There was always that special person, something akin to Charlie Brown’s little red-haired girl, for whom I would select the most special card. Just like Charlie, rarely would my sentimental feelings be acknowledged or reciprocated.
While the world has a tiny number of guys who always seem to have just the right mix of romance and charm, the rest of us more typical males have to stick together and look after one another. Remember, you were warned. Thursday is the magic day, not Friday. And, as I inferred earlier, no Valentine card is too mushy or romantic and no box of chocolates is too large. One final reminder – if you harbor a dream of becoming a martyr like St. Valentine, get her a box of diet candy.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.