You Can Call Me Val

I stopped mailing out Valentine cards 
quite a long time ago, after sending
one to actress Penelope Cruz for many years and getting no response
whatsoever. Now I worry that, in my attempts at writing to her in her own language, I might have accidentally insulted her. After all, the Spanish word
for the conjunction “but” is “pero” and the word for the noun “dog” is “perro.”
Just one letter can make a big difference.


I always thought Valentine’s Day was named after Hollywood heartthrob
Rudolph Valentino, but my wife tells me the most popular theory goes back
to the year 270 A.D. or so. Back then, the brutal Roman Emperor Claudius II
banned all marriages during wartime because he wanted guys to focus on
warring, not female companions back home. But a priest named Valentine
performed secret marriages anyway for which he was beheaded. While in jail,
St. Valentine left a farewell note to his friend, the jailer’s daughter, and signed
it “from your Valentine.”

Hallmark has been making out like a bandit ever since.

About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. Most are pink or red and decorated with cupids that look like baby Jack Blacks wearing sumo wrestling togs.

Since the turn of the 21st century, we’ve had to endure the strains of songs
like My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion and Un-break my Heart by Toni Braxton playing over the Muzak system as we shop for the perfect sentiment. Today though, card manufacturers have found innovative new ways to annoy us.

I’m talking about those singing cards that start pumping out electronic
sounds so that everyone within earshot knows you’re card shopping. I have to
admit though, sometimes I get sucked in and start singing along, and just when
I start to enjoy myself, the artist sings the wrong words.

I feel sorry for single people on Valentine’s Day. Many don’t get the
pink cards with baby Jacks on them and may spend the day pining away
for love, hoping next year is different. There is an alternative though. They
can travel to Finland where Valentine’s Day is called Ystavanpaiva and is all
about celebrating friendship with one’s buddies.

Or here in America we have Singles Awareness Day, also on February 14.
You can just call it SAD for short.

Michael Wright is a hopeless romantic who, while watching “chick-flicks” with his
wife has mastered the art of crying strictly out of the one eye that’s not in her
line-of-sight. Reach him at


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