Do you know what I’ve discovered? When I die and sail off into the great unknown, the first thing I’m going to do is look up Eve (of Adam and Eve fame) and kick her ass because of the “curse” and the gross birthing method women got saddled with. I mean what woman has ever truthfully thought that that monthly plague we get was worth its hassle, or what woman wouldn’t exchange the excruciating pain of childbirth for the power men seem to have been endowed with from Jump Street. In a fair world we should have been able to switch roles halfway through our lifetimes—kind of like musical chairs. Maybe it would have been negotiable. Who knows? But we never got a chance to find out. All that chick Eve had to do was follow the game plan; but nooooooo, she was all:
EVE: “Eat the apple Adam. If you do we’ll be like God and we’ll know everything. What’s the worst that can happen to us, Adam?”
The second person whose ass I’m going to whup is Esther Howland, the mother of the American Valentine card. The fluke thing that made Esther rich in 1840 was the spawn of all that is evil about Valentine’s Day in 2013. It was just our luck that Esther was the daughter of a stationery store owner and she once got a frilly lace-embossed valentine card from Victorian England. She was all:
ESTHER: “Faaathaw, is not this lace-infused, linen-embossed, over-the-top valentine’s card simply marvelous? What say you loan me some of your stationery goods and I’ll make every American woman lust after this manifestation of “true love” forever and forever. My Valentine cards will be a tribute to the purest form of love and the start of a Valentine revolution!”
That was then: 1840
And this is what we’ve descended into now . . . 2013
So 173 years later, lovers (men especially) must turn into consummate event planners for one day, lovers must become psychics who can accurately guess every whim of their beloved, and checking accounts must be depleted and drained to feed the restaurant, flower, candy, and hotel industries (worth about 18 billion
dollars) once Cupid’s arrow strikes its target. The Valentine fails are legendary (I’ve had a few of my own). Nothing ever turns out like we’ve planned: a few Valentine scenarios will be better than anticipated but most will be worse, because shit always happens when you least expect it, because we’re humans. The industry manipulations are too entrenched to throw them all overboard and start from scratch but guidance is definitely
needed. I’m old and I know shit, so over the weekend I set up a “Dalai Mama Epic Valentine Fails website” to take questions from the Valentine road-kill in need of a word or two of wisdom about avoiding epic Valentine Day fails.
VALENTINE NOVICE #1: “Dalai Mama, I’ve met a girl I really like. I’ve never done the whole Valentine production before but I thought, since this girl is so special, I’d rent a limo, take her to a great restaurant, and see where the night ends—if you know what I mean. But there’s a problem, even though I started looking for restaurant reservations two weeks ago, everything from Manny’s Steak House to White Castle is booked, and no limo company within 200 miles will book me a reservation for under $200 an hour. Also, did I mention that I just got my first job and I don’t have much money? Can you help me or am I headed into an epic Valentine fail?” Signed, Young and in love in Minnesota
DALAI MAMA: “Of course I ‘know what you mean,’ Val Novice #1—I’m old but I’m not dead! Yes, you are headed for an epic fail. Only amateurs go to restaurants on Valentine’s Day. An average dinner that would normally cost $70 will be sold to you for $150, and the food will be mediocre at best (a restaurant that normally serves a modestly priced fish dish will suddenly only serve high-end steaks or overpriced pasta with lobster and a mediocre red sauce that tastes suspiciously like canned marinara). All the tables will be pushed together and maximum seating capacity completely ignored so that the restaurant can make up for its January slump, and every word you utter will be heard and judged by the elbow-bumping couples to your left, right, front, and rear. Not to mention that the noise from all the chatter will be cacophonous, and the agitated wait staff will serve you in such a hurried manner that you’ll complete your entire romantic meal in just under 55 minutes so that the 20 other couples can be rushed in to take your place and experience their wind-whipped Valentine dining experience.”
Dalai Mama’s Suggestion
Turn your living space into a restaurant and cook for your cutie (clean your apartment first—especially the toilet). If you can’t cook, arrange for the local grocery store to prepare the meal, pick it up at the appropriate time and follow nuking instructions (throw away the grocery store bags to maintain the illusion). Candles, romantic music, dim lighting, no old sock smells, and easy-going and funny conversation will go a long way to your final goal—if you know what I mean. All women love a man with a sense of humor. But if you’re humorless, well, I don’t know what to tell you—I can’t help you there. P.S. If you really want to do the whole limo scenario, have one of your buddies put on a black suit and cap, and pick your girl up with you in the back seat carrying one rose. (If you can’t afford a dozen roses during the hyped Valentine season, approximately $150-$200, one rose is always better than nothing.)
“Valentine lingerie”|image from toilette-humor.com
VALENTINE NOVICE #2: “Dalai Mama: I’ve been married to my wife for thirty-eight years. Romance has never been our thing, but we almost got divorced out of shear boredom last year. So I started taking the little blue pill, and I was thinking maybe it was time to spice things up a little bit this Valentine’s Day—if you know what I mean. I was hoping to purchase my wife some sexy lingerie from one of the catalogues that recently came to the house, but it is hard to tell what she’d like. I thought I’d better get some advice from a woman who is of similar age to my wife which is why I’m writing. Oh, I forgot to mention that the wife is not the size she was when we first married. What do you think: am I headed for an epic Valentine fail?” Signed: Looking to get a rise in Pennsylvania
DALAI MAMA: “Dear Val Novice #2: If you do this, I promise you that your wife will hate you forever. Since when did you become an expert in women’s sizes? You say she’s put on a few pounds? This is an epic Valentine fail waiting to happen. No man should ever buy woman lingerie, ever—no matter what her size! That catalogue you received is a “sucker’s catalogue” trying to get you to waste your money on a multi-million dollar Victoria Secret’s industry. They will sell you anything, including thong underwear that doesn’t even look that good on the heroine-chic model sporting it. I bet you that it’s edible, right? (Can I let you in on a little secret? That shit sounds better than it really is. Trust me!) If the lingerie is too big, your wife will think you think she’s huge and it will make her sad (and you won’t be getting’ nothin’ that night), if it is too small, she’ll think you’ve been watching porn and she will kill you. (And why does everyone keep asking me if “I know what they mean”—I’m not a sexless idiot!) What if we switched the idea to another ass? What if your wife bought your chubby little droopy ass some sexy underwear she saw on David Beckham in an underwear ad? How would you respond? (Never mind, don’t answer that; men are generally clueless when it comes to how they look in inappropriate underwear.)”
Image from cartoonstock.com
Dalai Mama’s Suggestion
Don’t do it—don’t ever do it. Give your wife a gift card and let her buy what she thinks is sexy. Besides, now that you’re taking the little blue pill, methinks she could be wearing a burlap sack and you’d still be dancing around the house singing, “Let’s get it on!” Good luck!
VALENTINE NOVICE #3: “Dalai Mama, I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! I can’t believe you’ve made my pain even worse by doing an entire blog about Valentine’s Day. This ersatz “holiday” cuts through me like a knife. (Did I mention that I hate it?) Nothing makes me feel like such a loser than everybody showing off at the office by getting flowers from their boyfriends and husbands. For the past five years or so I’ve been sending myself flowers just so I won’t feel like such a dork, but this year I’m not even going to bother. I am what I am—alone, and I’ll die alone. Most of my friends are engaged or married and the only guys I know are gay. (Did I mention that I hate you for reminding me that I’m alone?) Signed: 3rd Wheel in Toronto
Dear Val Novice #3: “Are you through feeling sorry for yourself? ‘Cause the Dalai Mama don’t play that shit. Life is what you make it and if it gives you lemons then you go out and make goddamn lemonade. Dalai Mama didn’t marry her man until she was in her thirties, and “White and wonderful” (WW) was worth the wait. In fact, had I married any one of the jerks I met before WW, I shudder to think what my life would be like today. Have you seen Valentine’s Day by Gary Marshall? It’s an awful movie, but the scene worth watching and emulating is the “I hate Valentine’s Day” scene where all the unattached girls meet for dinner with a piñata heart and beat the shit out of it with a baseball bat as they recount their horrid past relationships. Excellent therapy! So grab your single friends—guys, gals, straight, gay, divorced, widowed—and get all dressed up, and cook a great dinner for each other and then pulverize your own version of a piñata heart. And then declare your urban family love for each other—being there to watch each other’s back no matter what is needed. I guarantee you that Valentine’s Day will work for you and not against you. P.S. It helps if everybody gets a little bit drunk!
Jessica Biel in “Valentine’s Day”|Warner Bros. Pictures
I am discovering that we are all the victims of the money-grubbing Valentine industry. Our minds have also been poisoned by storytellers like Nicholas Sparks and Hollywood’s formulaic romantic comedies (boy sees girl, girl sees boy, both fall madly in love, both fall out of love, both run languidly through the wheat field/airport/city
street/along the beach declaring their undying love in the last five minutes of the movie and live happily ever after. Life is just not like that. Relationships are up and down, in and out. Romance is real but is only meant to be a beckoning call to attract each other and sexually connect us. Once that has happened, then the real work
begins—the “growing in love” part.
The romantic love we feel toward the opposite sex is probably one extra help from God to bring you together, but that’s it. All the rest of it, the true love, is the test.”—Joan Chen
The sooner we untangle ourselves from the commercialism of Valentine’s Day and search for what makes us happy as individuals and what makes those who love us happy, the better off we’ll be as people and lovers. Trust me—it has nothing to do with money and over-the-top treacle romance. It has more to do with the “c” word: commitment.
My parents circulate the room hand in hand . . . Soul mates. They really call themselves that, which makes sense, because I guess they are . . . They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish—expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other’s spaces liquidly. Making it look easy, the soul-mate thing. People say children from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.”—by Gillian Flynn from Gone Girl
“True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.”—Ricardo Montalban
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”—Lao Tzu
“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” —Author Unknown
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