By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
Happy Valentine’s Day! The day when flower growers and designers, candy makers and sellers, jewelry store and spa owners rub their hands in glee. The day that most men remember at the last minute and, if they’re smart, find something to cart home to the honey, while most women have orchestrated the remembrances, cards and tokens of affection well in advance.
The mythology is that Valentine’s is the day when each of us either reaps the dividends of being loved or stands out in the cold, looking in. This usually has little to do with worthiness and more to do with being partnered. I’ve always thought this holiday had a kind of awkward, sadistic quality, like a national Sadie Hawkins Dance that had the ability to turn into the gym scene in Stephen King’s Carrie.
Still, it comes every February with regularity and so, blessed are the hooked up. As with New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day provides a relationship perk that means this pivotal date-night is taken care of; at least in theory. How well we do with this quiet little February event may also answer the question of whether the relationship is still viable in April and May.
Flower delivery, it turns out, is problematic this year. If you’re not familiar with your local flower shop, turning instead to an 800-line or advertiser, you may not get anything close to what is being promoted in pictures and pamphlets. This is particularly problematic if roses were promised and peonies delivered; worse, chrysanthemums, the kind your dear old Granny grows in her garden. On the other hand, flowers of any kind delivered in a bitter February should not be sneezed at. Not only are they a rare delight when the snow is blowing, they can be displayed in a window to let the world know someone thinks you’re IT: highly coveted. The recent problems with delivery indicate that those who want value for their buck need to hand-deliver or, perhaps, select another gift.
When in doubt, there’s always the traditional Valentine’s offering: candy. It’s literally everywhere and easily obtained. On the other hand, if the selection is too generic, not only will your good taste be questioned but your true feelings. I’m personally a Skittles fan but — in days long ago when these things meant more to me — if the Beloved had thrown a bag of Skittles my way on The Big Day, favorite or not, trust me: there would have been little joy in his Mudville. No, these offerings need to show a bit of class, imagination or, barring that, expense. According to the tube, Kay Jewelers will be GLAD to help you with that last.
Then there is the evening event to consider. The business of Cupid’s bows and paper hearts is all about romance, which requires the aforementioned imagination. The intimate meal is always a winner. I watched a bit of the Food Channel this week, and everyone had a different suggestion for food-seduction, most involving large amounts of butter and sugar, accompanied by something alcoholic that was the same color as the tablescape. OK, color-coordinated beverages are a bit of a turn-off for me, but there’s no denying that alcohol plays a large role in the Valentine’s event — which makes sense, by the way, only if you’ve secured a hotel room or paid the babysitter to take the children for the weekend.
Would this be an inconvenient time to begin a conversation about the continuing evils of subsidized production of high-fructose corn syrup? Well, too bad — we’re going there anyhow. In the last months, I’ve seen clever commercials calculated to convince us that there is nothing in corn syrup that is anything other than plain old table sugar. And sugar, of course, is good food. It must be so, available as it is in a thousand guises at every check-out stand, convenience store counter and restaurant table in the nation. But, as usual, they lied. We’ve been taught that refined sugar is harmless, but it is not. There is either sucrose or HFCS – or both — in just about every processed American food product, from hot dogs to corn flakes, baby food to soup, but you won’t hear about the dangers in this nation.