Valentine’s Day 101: The Perfect Date?

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img_5901“Un soir fait de rose et de bleu mystique,
Nous échangerons un éclair unique,
Comme un long sanglot, tout chargé d’adieux;”(Baudelaire, La Mort des Amants, Les Fleurs du Mal)

As a self-professed francophile, naturally I couldn’t resist opening my Valentine’s Day post with ‘un peu de poésie française’ (a little French poetry). Nothing more romantic than the verse above from Baudelaire’s “La Mort des Amants.” Sounds gruesome when translated into English, The Death of Lovers, but….trust me….Baudelaire is hot.

And speaking of romance, it’s that time of year when some couples frenetically plan, or at least attempt to plan, the ‘perfect’ Valentine’s Day date. The stakes are high–post-Valentine’s Day water cooler chitchat in the 9-5 world invariably includes being subjected to listening to a run down on that year’s Valentine’s gifts and, depending on the locale, hearing about how the couple in question (from the 1/2 you work with) wined and dined at the latest trendy restaurant.

Well, news flash (real, not fake news, lol): Not everyone is waiting with baited breath for the usual dozen roses, box of chocolates, or diamonds [Side bar: Contrary to popular belief (and marketing gimmicks), diamonds are not ‘forever’ — and if I so desired some, I would not sit around waiting for a loved one to second guess my taste in jewelry, no thank you!], or the opportunity to sit at a stuffy restaurant pretending they are having the time of their life. No, somewhere there’s an alternate universe where Valentine’s Day is for celebrating your friendship – not only with your sugar pie [Disclaimer: I was born and raised in NY, but lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for 25 years], but also, recognizing other endearing friendships.

Perhaps a coworker (or two or three) who makes (or made) your work life tolerable, or a childhood friend who has known you since forever, or a family member who is always there for you. Or maybe your children have a teacher or, if they are younger, daycare provider, who nurtures them while you are at your 9-5 gig who is special.

Instead of chasing down perfect dates, let’s give pause to Friendship with a capital F (a different kind of ‘F’ word) and thank those who have been there for us to share successes, sob stories, life’s frustrations, and life’s joys. Pick up the phone (I know, who does that these days?) and call your friends and loved ones so that they can hear your voice or send them an email (or text message if you really must insist). Forget about chasing down the elusive ‘perfect date.’ Remind your friends how blessed you are to have them in your circle! Valentine’s Day needn’t be “La Mort de l’Amitié,” n’est-ce pas?

P.S. If you must insist on a perfect date with your sweetheart, here’s an idea. Read poetry to each other. If Baudelaire doesn’t suit your fancy, I recommend Montréal-based poet Nadine Ltaif’s work. Or North Carolina-based Pamela Moffatt (fyi, another self-professed francophile!)


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