Whose Valentine Is It, Anyway?

February 12, 2010

With Valentine’s Day coming up I started wondering, just who was this Saint Valentine guy, anyway? According to what I’ve found he’s at least three different people, but that’s not surprising. I’m named for a saint who’s at least six different people and I strongly suspect not all of them were saints, but that’s another story. As with all saints I’m sure Saint Valentine, or at least some of him, was helped along to sainthood by performing some miracles. In fact at least two of Saint Valentines miracles were convincing people that colorful little pieces of sugar-flavored chalk stamped with cute messages like HEY BAB are actually candy, and coming up with that design that we all recognize as a heart even though it doesn’t look like any heart I’ve ever seen. Real hearts are big brownish lumps of muscle covered with throbbing veins and arteries, which makes me wonder why the heart was chosen as the seat of love in the first place. Why not the liver? It’s a nice big organ that, unlike the heart, doesn’t have huge gaping holes in it where the arteries and veins go in. And "liver" is just one letter away from "lover". Maybe the kidneys would be an option. They’ve got a nice symmetry, although there are two of them and it might send the wrong signal if you offer someone only one of your kidneys. Shakespeare asked, "Where is fancy bred–in the heart or in the head?" I’m not sure there’s much breeding going on in either place, but how about the brain? After all psychologists always say the brain is the largest erogenous zone, which is why at psychologists’ conventions they’re always hanging out in the hotel bar making rude remarks about the waitresses’ frontal lobes. Looking at the highly stylized conventional heart design I think it looks less like a heart and more like, well, an apricot maybe. Or a plum, which is kind of appropriate since real hearts look kind of like prunes. Maybe people giving each other prunes should be a Valentine’s Day tradition, although I doubt it’ll catch on. Using a dried up fruit to say "I love you" may not be everyone’s idea of romantic, but at least it beats a chalky, heart little candy with URA QT stamped on it.

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