It might just be global warming, but this unusually balmy winter is making many New Yorkers feel kind of frisky and softhearted. At least the ladies can show off their clavicles! Just look at the Mayor, who recently skipped a big gala attended by the Bushes to take his lady friend, Diana Taylor, to dinner for her birthday, calling it a “big priority.” Even Hillary Clinton is sporting a gigantic rock from Bill on her left fourth finger—perhaps a proclamation that those icky late-90’s sex scandals don’t matter anymore. (Only a true cynic would speculate that the ring is merely a bit of political theater orchestrated by Mrs. Clinton herself as she ramps up to run for President in 2008.)
Valentine’s Day is nigh. On Feb. 14, you’ll hear the thwap, thwap, thwap of velvet ring boxes opening around the city, as gentlemen (and, dare we hope, a few forward-thinking gals?) plunge to their knees and propose good old-fashioned marriage—in restaurants, on rooftops, by Rockefeller Center. Then: tears and popping Champagne corks, followed by meddling mothers-in-law. Goodbye, Bungalow 8. Hello, Bugaboo strollers.
Love of a sort is in the air, floating all the way to Hollywood, where fecund Oscar nominees will be coming down the red carpet two by two: adorable Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, whose marriage doesn’t seem to be in trouble after all (at least not today); not-so-Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman, long besotted with William H. Macy; luscious Rachel Weisz, blooming with the baby-to-be of her fiancé, director Darren Aronofsky; and the gamine Michelle Williams, who recently bore a daughter to her co-star and Boerum Hill roommate, Heath Ledger. “She’s the perfect mom,” Mr. Ledger, a former surly-player type who cut a considerable swath through Tinseltown’s blondes, recently gushed to Oprah.
And if the Oscars seem morosely B-list this year, what about the love that oozes between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who just produced baby Violet; between Mr. Affleck’s ex, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Coldplay singer Chris Martin, who have Tyke No. 2 on the way; and— dum-dum-dum-dum—between Ms. Paltrow’s ex, Brad Pitt, and the pillow-lipped man-eater Angelina Jolie, whose recent confirmation of her pregnancy sent such a horrified-delighted chorus of “Oh no she did- n’t!” reverberating between the coasts. Mr. Pitt’s ex, Jennifer Aniston, meanwhile, is snuggling—albeit a bit ostentatiously—in the squishy arms of that guy from Wedding Crashers, a romantic comedy that was one of last year’s biggest hits. And just to offset the happy hum, of course, Hollywood still provides us with a huge wallop of weirdness: the ongoing romance between Tom Cruise and the now quite obviously gravid Katie Holmes.
Back in New York, the sight of happy couples canoodling in dark, plush corners of Daniel, cooing in Central Park or walking arm-in-arm down the Brooklyn Promenade may well make you want to fling yourself into the East River, but remember: In the face of all the terror, war and natural cataclysm that’s poured over the world this past year, love is our best defense.