A Post-Valentine’s Day Reverie & Literary Links

forgot valentine's bear 1297507894897_4033155Greeting card holidays are not my thing.

I used to enjoy Valentine’s Day.  Why?  Candy!  And in the days of local bookstores, we bought each other books.  I recently found my copy of Margaret Atwood’s Life After Man, which my boyfriend (now husband) gave me on Valentine’s Day, 1979.  He charmingly put a heart sticker on an endpage.

Valentine’s Day is Date Night.  It is a girls’ holiday. I know all about it:  I have written  features on “100 Things to Do on Valentine’s Day.”  No, writers do not wear lingerie while gathering information on calories in chocolate body paint and fixed-price dinners for two.  After collating data and desperately inventing Thing # 100, a walk through the tropical plants in the Botanical Gardens followed by Caribbean-theme cocktails and coconut shrimp, we just want to wear sweatpants and watch Cary Grant movies.  A romantic dinner?  Maybe with fast food!  A night of hot sex in a fancy hotel?  Please!  We spent our honeymoon night at a Holiday Inn in Frederick, Maryland, after getting married in Rockville (of the R.E.M. song) and loading our U-Haul for a move to the Midwest.

I love love, but on Sunday morning I had no idea it was Valentine’s Day.

Then at breakfast my husband gave me a chocolate-covered marshmallow and a Road Runner card from the Hy-Vee.  The Road Runner jumps out of the card  on a spring. The cats and I love it.

Thank God for the internet.  A minute later I printed out a Top Cat picture and scrawled, “Happy Valentine’s Day:  You’re the Top Cat!”

Oh my God! I could have done much better. Next year I’ll be prepared.


1. Nicholas Lezard writes at The Guardian about Anthony Briggs’ new translation of Pushkin’s novel in verse, Yevgeny Onegin (Eugene Onegin).  I love Eugene Onegin and have enjoyed Briggs’ translations of War and Peace, Resurrection, and Tolstoy’s short stories.  The problem?  It’s not available yet in the U.S.  It is published by Pushkin Press, a small publisher that specializes in literature in translation.  (Last year I wrote here about the Penguin translation by Stanley Mitchell.)

pushkin yevgeny onegin getimage249-761x1024.aspx2. I may have missed Valentine’s Day, but I enjoyed Ceridwen Christensen’s essay on science fiction romance, “Of Love and Robots,” at the Barnes and Noble blog.

3. Michael Dirda writes at The Washington Post about Melville House’s new series of interviews with authors, The Last Interview and Other Conversations.

4. Beiger Vanwesenbeek’s “Reading Madame Bovary in the Provinces” in the L.A. Review of Books helps us celebrate the 160th anniversary of its publication this year.

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Stop in the Name of Love

At a gay dance in the ’70s, I first heard the Supremes’ plaintive, witty song, “Stop in the Name of Love.”

supremes stop in the name of love tumblr_mcvq2czhrm1ridow9o1_1280The dance was fun, as these things go.  A  group of women were doing a line dance, waving their arms in a traffic sign to “Stop in the Name of Love.”  Some were wearing men’s suits and hats, which baffled me and seemed vaguely anti-feminist:  perhaps it was a radical lesbian’s parody of the butch/femme culture.

And now all these years later gay life is legal and accepted and I hope they all found happiness.

On Valentine’s Day, as I do laundry, vacuum, and clean pee off the toilet, I wonder if lesbian romance would have been simpler.  You could wear each other’s clothes, there might have been less fuss about red satin teddies, and you could watch “The Lake House” together (the most romantic movie ever).

I was thinking of the Supremes’ lyrics today when my husband gave me my third Valentine’s Day gift in three days.  I was puzzled, because I wasn’t wearing a red teddy..  But there are roses on the kitchen counter, a heart-shaped box of candy, and I am looking forward to reading my new copy of Persuasion.

“Why all the gifts?”

“Awwww!”  you’re saying.

But it’s not really an “awww” thing.

It seemed he wanted to go to a ski race today, and he thought he had to bribe me.

Heavens, of course he could go to a ski race.  I’m not into the greeting card holiday scene.  But my attention was so focused on Valentine’s Day because of all the gifts that my solitary day was depressing.

And I had to give him a fall-back gift:  the Amazon gift card!  It’s always sexy and romantic, don’t you think?

But before you overwhelm your lover with Valentine’s Day gifts,

Stop in the name of love
Before you break my heart.