I've always loved Valentine's Day. You don't have to do the menorah or tree dance. You don't have to decorate the blue Chanukah bush with dreidels. You don' t have to appease your mother or mother-in-law. It's just for you and your sweetie. You only have to snug or cuddle and play Gershwin or the Beatles or Chet Baker. You don't have to include the children -- or grandchildren. You can go to an inn or relais (far sexier than a hotel) and fuck your heart out. You can gorge on champagne and chocolate -- which turns out to be good for you. And you can turn off your cell phone. At least I can. I don't know about my sweetie.
I always get the best gifts on Valentine's Day--the emerald earrings, the Larry Rivers, the tub of Petrossian caviar, the first edition of Alice in Wonderland. I always feel it's a holiday--even snowed in Chicago or stuck in Malibu in a mudslide, or on the 47h floor of the San Francisco Mandarin in impenetrable fog or in Hemingway's room at the Gritti in Venice.
As long as my sweetie gets there, it's a festival, mardi gras in Venice, or Rio, or Seville. And somehow he got in from the airport. Somehow he brought that bottle of Krug, got the last tin of Oesetra (Beluga being fished out) and the hot tub was working--even in the snow, and we rolled and made snow angels naked, and we felt like an outtake from a Bergman movie and we wore crowns of candles and we skated across the frozen lake but amazingly didn't fall in. Belinda Barkawitz, our huge black poodle, followed on her little poodle feet, and (amazingly) didn't fall in either.
If course it's got a bloody history--St Valentine's Day. Blood and love go together.
Saint Valentine's Day or the Día de San Valentín or Día de los Enamorados, goes back to antiquity. February was the month of purification for the Romans. Februa on February 15th marked the Lupercalia. It celebrated a young man's rite of passage to fertility.
The legendary Saint Valentine appears in the 3rd Century after Christ. He may have been a Roman priest who empathized with young men drafted into military service. Since the Roman Empire needed soldiers to protect their expanding territories beyond the Rubicon, and since married men made distracted soldiers, Emperor Claudius the Second decreed that nobody could become engaged. Valentine openly defied the Emperor's order and secretly married off young couples. Since Roman Emperors were demi-Gods and their word was sacred (like Dick Cheney's), Valentine was considered a traitor and was beheaded on the Lupercalia, February 14, 270 A.D. Unfortunately they didn't show this in the TV series.
Anyway, the bloodier the history, the more chocolates and lace underwear you can sell. Not to mention champagne, dildoes three times life-size and vibrating bunnies. If you're four you have to send valentines to your whole pre-school class. If you're eight, you probably think it's yucky. By the time the Lupercalia kicks in, you love St. Valentine again.
Poor St. Valentine lost his head and died for our sins. But what do we care as we peel off our clothes. Yippee! The only day of the year devoted to lovers! Smear on the chocolate. Guzzle champagne. Close your eyes. And open your mouth.