Rules of engagement
Birds were singing, flowers blooming, and every guy who had a girl to hold on to, had a big cheesy smile accompanying an animated far-off look… rather like Ron McDonald, only goofier.
It was the 14th of February, and unless you’re a grizzly bear who is smart enough to hibernate through this period, you know what that means. Valentine’s day: mush overload.
Historically speaking, it has roots going all the way back to the 13th century, at a time when the church had about one dozen Saints with the name Valentine, giving around 42 tales of origins of the traditional lovers’ day. The church had so many martyrs called Valentine around whom the tale revolves that I’m wondering why there wasn’t a folksong that went “Will the real St. Valentine please stand up?” There is, likewise, no consensus on the history of Valentine’s day. However, we can all agree that the tradition only gained popularity in the 19th century, with the help of St. Archibald, who said to his team of marketing associates,“We seem to be running out of card occasions. We have Christmas, mother’s day, father’s day… still not quite enough… Ideally, we should have something around mid February. Any ideas/ suggestions?”
If you have any doubts/ qualms about the accuracy of the last paragraph, remember… I am not a historian. I’m allowed to make a few mistakes here and there.
In any case, V-day is celebrated with great gusto all around the world. This time, here in Bangalore, you couldn’t have thrown a stone without hitting a Ron McDonald smile off somebody’s face. And he/she would barely notice. Even restaurants change their decor, ambience, and sometimes, the waiters’ uniforms to suit the occasion. In some places, they even change the titles on the menu…
“Good evening, sir. What may I get for you?”
“I’d like a doughnut, please”
“Oh. Sorry, sir. We don’t serve doughnuts today. May I suggest a Lovenut?”
“Eh? What is a lovenut?”
“It is is a sweet, deep-fried piece of dough or batter. We give it in a ring-kind of a shape, and pour chocolate on it”
“Sounds like a doughnut”
“Ahem. We do NOT serve doughnuts. It’s a lovenut.”
“Is it that round thing I see on the next table? The chocolate covered ring-thing that couple is having?”
“Hmm… That’s a doughnut.”
“No, sir. We do NOT serve doughnuts today. THAT… is a lovenut”
(sigh) “Ok, ok. Just… just give me the ‘lovenut’… And a glass of iced tea”
“Oooh. About that, sir. We don’t serve iced tea today. I recommend that you go for a Lemon Embrace, a Strawberry kiss, or a Peach smooch”
What a love-sy experience…
But I know why the V-day is successful. At least I think I do. Miscommunication is the bane of most relationships… One of the daily combats is to decipher what I call the ‘partner code‘. Surprisingly, this happens after a couple is together long enough. Each feels the other understands them a whole lot better than they actually do… and they expect each other to read their thoughts as if it is printed on their forehead….
“Sure, you can go out with your friends”
Forehead says – “If you go out with your friends, I will set fire to your couch and cry until you admit it’s your fault.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. You pick a movie. It doesn’t matter what movie we watch as long as we watch it together.”
Forehead blinks – “You better KNOW what movie I want. If you can’t understand that, what kind of relationship are we in?”
(For a more detailed narration of a similar incident, check out Alex’s page here)
But on V-day, there is no confusion. Couples KNOW what the other is thinking… It is law… The rules are clear. and it’s binding…
“Oh, sure, if you want to go out with friends, go. I understand he’s a close friend, and he’s leaving for America. I’m reasonable. Go on. Enjoy yourself”
Sounds sincere. On any other day, it would have been so easy to fall into the trap. But not today. No need for a message to flash on anyone’s forehead. Instinctively, you have the answer…
“Oh, no, sweetie. He may come back from America… in three or four decades. I’d rather spend my time here with you.”
and… SAFE!!! Thumbs up.
“Hey, you have that project to submit tomorrow. I understand how important it is. We can have our dinner plans postponed to tomorrow. You know I don’t really think this day is special or anything. We don’t need a special day to tell each other how we feel. Go ahead. Get your work done. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Nope. Not even a second’s delay for the answer…
“No way, honey. I made plans with you, and that’s more important than this crummy job… or a promotion as VP… or a raise that’d double my salary… Hell, no. I can find other jobs. With you by my side, anything is possible”
And SAFE!!! Yet again… TWO thumbs up.
Of course it’s not always smooth sailing. On V-day, the expectations also tend to be higher. Absolutely no excuses allowed…
“Hey, baby. I’m… irrrk… I’m sorry. I won’t be able to make it tonight. I think I just had an attack. I’m in an ambulance. On my way to the hospital.”
“Huh? Hello? What’s wrong, hon?”
“Nothing… so… you just had an attack… these MAY be your last minutes on Earth, knock on wood… And you’d rather spend that time in a hospital than with me????”
“Did you even consider my feelings about this? Maybe I needed to see you… be with you… at a time of crisis like this. You HAVE my number on speed dial, and yet, the first number you dial is for an ambulance??? I could have called an ambulance for you!!! And if you think…”
“Wha? Oh my god… my head is spinning.”
“Oh, sure… your head spins when you talk to me on Valentine’s day. I thought we were above this. I thought we were closer than this. Sob sob sob sob…”
Well, maybe SOME rules are still obscure.