Let’s face it: It’s a bad idea. Ridiculous, unwise and likely to fill you with regret when it’s over. Just like love. But I’m not talking about love; I’m talking about its annual ritualization. I’m talking about Valentine’s Day, 2003. A complete disaster any way you look at it.
Not that I never had my doubts, in other years, about Valentine’s Day. I had plenty. But for a long time, I didn’t admit them to myself. Every Feb. 14, I made the romantic rounds. I performed my neurotic, erotic duties. In candlelit, midpriced restaurants, while couples and carnations wilted, I made eyes at my dates and sometimes even conversation. I tremblingly entered lingerie shops and stood staring at the enterprising garter belts, the hustling brassieres. I stole silken “intimates” right off the backs (or thereabouts) of mannequins and, later, with something like pure despair, saw how different these pinching items looked on the bodies of my girlfriends. But then I got out of all that. It was simple, really.
I fell in love.
My wife is against Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know, I’m a lucky guy. So let me gloatingly repeat: My wife thinks Cupid’s yearly visit is a fraud. She says Hallmark started it. For her, the imperative to couple up, to swoon on cue, is just as suspect as any other imperative. One of the first things we did when we got married was to announce a boycott of Valentine’s Day. It’s been great. It’s brought us so much closer together.
The problem with Valentine’s Day, as a holiday, is that it isn’t about remembering something or celebrating something. It’s about feeling something. And in order to feel this something, you have to buy something. You have to give this something to your special someone, who, if you’re lucky, will feel something. Then you get to feel your special someone.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
But how special can you feel when everyone else is feeling something special about their special someone?
No, it’s a lost cause, our regulated day of passion. This year, it’s even worse. Didn’t Marx imply that tragedy, in the modern age, would play itself out again as farce? It’s happening right now. We have an excited, a veritably tumescent American President making sweeping overtures. We have a terrorist leader playing hard to get. We have an Iraqi dictator playing cat-and-mouse and a North Korean wallflower trying to get noticed. And these four guys have the requisite emotional makeups for farce: They’re all mad for love.
According to First Lady of His Heart , by Madalyn Hillis-Dineen, George W. Bush met the then Laura Welch in 1977. “George, who had a reputation for being a bit of a ladies’ man, fell quickly and hard. They were married three months later. (There are rumors that George W. stopped drinking because she gave him the ultimatum that wives of alcoholics often do-stop or else.)”
Saddam Hussein is something of a ladies’ man, too, it turns out. Aside from his three wives, he’s had countless mistresses. One of these was Parisoula Lampsos. She was with Saddam for 30 years. “He was tender,” Ms. Lampsos recalls. “He was warm …. Saddam, he don’t need to force anybody.”
Never to be outdone, Osama bin Laden has three wives. Or possibly four. Certainly no more than five, which is manageable. He had a mistress, too, once upon a time. Her name was Kola Boof. Ms. Boof, who is currently under a fatwa issued by the Sudanese government, claims that she had a four-month “sexual affair” with bin Laden in Morocco in 1996. She also claims that he “hurt her” during sex, often by biting. “In a location like North Africa, there is no place to run from powerful men who insist on having their way and I was afraid of what he would do if I refused to see him. Osama told me, on the first night we met, that I was to no longer eat lion’s meat (my favorite meat) and that I was to entertain no other man but him.” And she adds, in summary: “He’s nothing but a billionaire gangbanger who thought having three legs would impress me.”
On Dateline , Parisoula Lampsos confided to Diane Sawyer that Saddam gets a leg up with the help of Viagra. His emotional ardor, however, needs no accelerant. After she had lost her beauty, Ms. Lampsos tried to end the affair. “I told him, ‘Why? Let me go now. I don’t have anything to give you more. You can have any woman. What you need me?’” Saddam refused to let her go. “He look at me very, very, very strong. He said, ‘You belong to me. You are going to die here in Baghdad.’”
I almost forgot the wallflower. Kim Jong Il was a raging playboy in his youth. You can still see this in his permed, oddly transparent hair. Rumor has it that, while the country starves, Kim Jong Il eats steaks and runs around, on elevator heels, with a “pleasure squad” of imported blondes and beautiful Asian women.
Those are the lovers, then, and this is the farce:
As we confront Valentine’s Day, 2003, George W. Bush is making the ultimatum superpower leaders often do to troublesome little countries-stop or else.
Kim Jong Il is making the nuclear ultimatum small countries often do to superpowers from whom they fear an invasion-stop or else. For Valentine’s Day this year, Kim Jong Il gives George W. a pastel candy heart. On the heart it says, “Hot Stuff.”
While Osama, pining away somewhere, writing the occasional histrionic letter, sends a Valentine candy to Bush: This one says: “Crazy for You.”
And Saddam, his beauty faded, is crying: “Why? Let me go now. I don’t have anything to give you more. You can have any country. What you need me?”
George W., the most aroused and faithful of all, sends Saddam a candy in return. A heart with an arrow through it. And the message: “Be Mine.”
Do you see what I’m saying? Do you still want to get in the mood, with these guys in this mood? Valentine’s Day is a trial any year. This year, it’s an impossibility. Count me out. No, count both of us out, my wife and me. We’re coming home empty-handed on the 14th. And we’re staying in.
Didja Hear the One About Podhoretz And the Talking Frog?
“Good evening, everybody! I’m a journalist, for those who don’t know me. But in my earlier life, I worked in Washington, D.C., and I’m a member of the few, the proud-the black Republicans.
It was a recent Friday night at Don’t Tell Mama, the West 46th Street cabaret club, and onstage was Robert George, the New York Post columnist and editorial writer, who recently began moonlighting as a standup comedian.
The room was filled with 30 or so young professionals. Mr. George, who is 40 but looks a good deal younger, noted his navy blue suit. “This is not just a suit,” he said. “It’s what black men in New York call a ‘taxicab opportunity-enhancement device.’”
There was a hearty shot of laughter.
“In my Washington days, I worked for Newt Gingrich,” Mr. George said. The room broke into a scattering of applause.
“Why, thank you,” Mr. George said. “That’s a first. Usually the reaction is closer to ‘Oh my God-how could you work for such a fat, soulless bastard ?’”
More laughs. “Well, he wasn’t my first choice,” Mr. George said. “My first choice was Ted Kennedy. But unfortunately I failed both the swimming and the driving tests.”
Now there were groans. “Yeah, right,” Mr. George said. “As if you would get into a moving vehicle with a Kennedy.”
Mr. George moved on to another topic. “You guys hear about the terrorist alert?” he asked. “Today we went from yellow, which is an elevated state of alert, to orange, which is a severe state of alert. The next color is red, which is a HOLY-SHIT-WE-ARE-GOING-TO-DIE state of alert.” Laughs again.
“And do you know about the other color-coded alerts?” Mr. George asked. “They introduced something called the ‘amber alert.’ You know what that is? The amber alert is for missing children. They start flashing amber when little Chrissie is missing, so people can be on the lookout for her. But it’s only a matter of time before the colors blend and we get something like a red/amber alert. That’s for when little Chrissie is missing … and on her way to North Korea … to buy a nuke …. HOLY-SHIT-WE-ARE-GOING-TO-DIE!”
After he was through, Mr. George sat down and talked about his new hobby. He’d been doing standup for just a few months. He called comedy his “creative outlet.”
“Obviously, the Post is a pretty creative place,” Mr. George said. “But, you know, like any Catholic, West Indian, immigrant, black, Republican son of a single mother who works for a visionary Australian media magnate, I felt there was something missing.”
Clearly, the guy was loving his new line of work. He couldn’t help himself. “Though a Republican, I can’t say I love everything Republicans do,” Mr. George said. “For example, we elected George W. Bush and the stock market tanked. So now that we’ve restored honor and dignity to the White House, what we have to do is put the Dow Jones back on the same track as Bill Clinton’s penis. Then we restore Monica Lewinsky to public service-and I do mean service !”
-Jonathan Trichter and Lyndsay Bright
10 Ways to Get Back Time Lost Dialing 1-212
1. Have MetroCard ready to swipe well before turnstile.
2. Do 500 fewer pushups per morning.
3. Watch Law , not Order .
4. Give all friends one-syllable nicknames.
5. Stop e-mailing ex-romantic partners.
6. Instruct pets to find their own food.
7. Spend two hours less per day at current job looking for new job.
8. Worry about Jennifer, not Brad.
9. Before bed, lay out socks and underwear for next day.
10. Walk faster.
-Stephen F. Milioti