That Love Thing

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It’s Valentine’s day, which some people would argue is a completely manufactured, and therefore a completely meaningless day. However, if Cupid’s special day was so meaningless, would it sweep up millions of people in a wave of ultimate expressions of love, and inspire elaborate marriage proposals? It certainly seems peculiar that in the vast majority of cases, or at least the ones I have come across, Valentine naysayers are either bitterly single, or partnered up, but have had such a rotten string of Valentine’s Day celebrations that they have given up any hope of having a lovely day with the object of their affections.

It’s pretty obvious how the obnoxious heart motifs and pressure to purchase roses and jewelry (especially a carbon-based bauble for a lady’s left ring finger) have sullied the perception of this day of love. The fine dining industry is probably the most conspicuous and appalling of all, because it never fails to mark up menu items to ridiculous prices, packaged in tricky “Prix Fixe” menus which sound delightful and romantic until the hefty bill comes to the table.

However, despite the fact that Valentine’s Day is hyped and commercialized, it remains a great reminder of how important expressions of love are to the human race. So even if you hate the idea of heart shaped chocolates, long-stemmed roses, and cute little teddy bears, try to remember that it is a day of love. Don’t write off the entire day and risk hurting the feelings of someone you truly love.

Valentine’s Day: A Money-Maker

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Valentine’s Day is one of the most retail-driven events in the United States, and for good reason. Savvy business owners have figured out how to capitalize on desperate men everywhere who want to please their women. The women, in turn, have been heavily influenced by clever advertising. Most women know about Jared (no, he isn’t the neighbor two doors down), and the Robbins Brothers have also exerted a powerful influence on the fantasies of ladies everywhere.

However, it seems like more and more couples have become aware of the fact that the big day of love is filled with hype and commercialism. After all, it’s supposed to be about the love, lust, or shared interest between two people, isn’t it? However, I still think a fella can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (I know I love them!) for his lovely lady. If he wants to go the extra mile, he can get a nice trinket of jewelry (no, it doesn’t have to be diamonds), a stuffed teddy bear (if she’s into that kind of thing), or a sexy undergarment from Victoria’s Secret, but those are very predictable gifts on Valentine’s Day.

Then there are the chocolates and candy hearts. Heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates have become increasingly more dreaded, since more ladies than ever are concerned about the sugar rush which comes from consuming them. Don’t be surprised if you buy a box of cheap chocolates and your woman refuses to eat them because they have high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors. Perhaps it’s time to get more creative and pick up a few gluten-free, vegan cupcakes?

A popular outing for couples is to go out to dinner, but restaurants have become far too opportunistic in recent years. Typical Prix Fixe menus for February 14th are so outrageously expensive that you almost have to take out a second mortgage just to afford the meal. I have gotten to the point that I have no desire to pay three times the amount of money I would usually pay for a meal at the same restaurant, simply because I was foolish enough to go there on Valentine’s Day. Besides, the restaurants are always packed, always noisy, and there’s a good chance that your table might be right next to the men’s restroom or in a drafty corner of the patio. Never mind that you made reservations three months ago and specified that you wanted a booth inside the restaurant.

What I enjoy the most, and am planning to do this year, is to cook a nice meal at home, open a good bottle (or two) of wine, and enjoy the comforts of home. That holds much more value for me than surrounding myself with red heart cutouts, chocolates I can’t eat, or spending a king’s ransom for a meal. I also don’t have to yell over the din of the other patrons blabbing.

Teddy Bears

My early days...see the white bear on the right?  This is the bear that started it all...

I got my first teddy bear when I was a baby (see photo above), and it seemed to spark a teddy bear obsession, particularly white ones. Though I don’t like collecting stuffed animals per se, I do have a small teddy bear collection, which features a 42 inch tall white bear named “Grandma Fresca” by the manufacturer. I am very attached to this giant bear, primarily because my mother gave it to me.

Grandma Fresca teddy bear

Grandma Fresca teddy bear

My collection is tucked rather discreetly in two small nooks in my bedroom so as not to disrupt the design flow of the room. Though I don’t consider myself a stuffed animal fan, and don’t pay any attention to my bear collection, I feel a very strong sentimental attachment to the largest bear, and to one of the smallest in my collection, which served as a litter mate to a three week old rescue kitten who is still very much a part of my family today. I find it rather touching that there is a mother-child asociation associated with both of these teddy bears.

My little rescue kitty with her teddy bear littermate!  Shima is 5 years old now and a sweet and wonderful cat...

My little rescue kitty with her teddy bear littermate! Shima is 5 years old now and a sweet and wonderful cat…