Lifestyle

Molly Fisk: Kissprints Under the Snow

Image by Roey Ahram via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

So now the year swings around again to Valentine’s Day, that Hallmark holiday promoted within an inch of its life to sell chocolate, red roses, and, more recently, extremely small items of see-through underwear.

When I’m single on Valentine’s Day, I wonder if it’s a plot to remind the unattached that they’re unloved. Red doily hearts in store windows make me resentful and crabby. And the part of me that wanted to be a ballerina when I was 9 and that still occasionally dreams of silk wedding gowns feels bereft and then manipulated. I am sometimes tempted, at this time of year, to ram my grocery cart into the candy display and watch the whole thing collapse. Or to drive strategically through a puddle close to the curb as a happy-looking couple is strolling by, in order to douse them. I know this is not adult behavior, but there you have it.

When I’m coupled up on Valentine’s Day, the holiday seems ridiculous. Why arbitrarily designate a day for love when so many days are full of love, and also chocolate? Why put obligation on your partner in this artificial way? What a set-up for expectations and inevitable disappointment.

It also drives me nuts how narrowly imagined the chocolate and roses thing is. It’s such an enormous cliché, repeated doggedly year after year. Why not strike a blow for freedom, break out of the darn See’s chocolates box and at least send yellow roses! Use your imagination! Give your beloved jasmine and gingersnaps or orchids and Chinese plum sauce—things that are equally sensuous but not so familiar. Or better yet, get creative and make something. Write a poem to your sweetheart—or, if poems terrify you, just make a list of what you love about him or her. And be specific—paying attention is a clear sign of love. List all sorts of things: the grace with which she lifts a coffee cup, the efficient dispatch he brings to packing a car’s trunk. Describe the sexy things, too, but don’t limit your list to them—intimacy exists in so many surprising places.

I should admit that despite all this grumbling, I love a romantic gesture as much as the next person. I just think they should be inventive. I gave my best valentine (so far) one year when I was living in Cambridge. It snowed three feet on February 13th, and at midnight I went out in my snow boots, wrapped to the gills in muffler, hat, and mittens, to find my boyfriend Denis’s white Volkswagen. I was armed with five tubes of lipstick and a box of Kleenex. I spent an hour—the snow falling lightly around me, in that timeless hush snow brings—applying the different colors of lipstick and wiping spots on his car clean of winter grime so I could leave kissprints. My lips didn’t freeze to the metal surface because lipstick is sort of greasy, which was also good, since it stopped the snow from washing the prints away.

I kissed that car 50 times, and Denis said later that it overheated for weeks afterwards.

—This essay originally appeared as a radio reading on Station KVMR in Nevada City, California.

 

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  • SISSY February 14, 2015 at 10:43 am

    AGREE WITH THIS ONE TOO !
    IT IS SAD TO SEE WHAT A HYPE HAS BEEN MADE
    OUT OF THIS ONE DAY ? GOOD FOR RETAIL AND BAD FOR
    THE AVERAGE MAN . WHO, IF HE DOES NOT BUY RED ROOSES , CHOCOLATE AND BETTER YET GO IN DEBT BUYING JEWELS IS
    A MARKED MAN

    Reply