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By the time you read this, it’ll be fairly close to Valentine’s Day, and that’s got me thinking. Though we can all probably agree that crass consumerism rather than “holiness” is the driving force behind most holidays these days (at least in Western culture), we might still have a healthy debate about whether Cherub Day is a good thing. The arguments against it include the aforementioned crassness and the view that, if you need to be reminded to find a thoughtful or touching way to express your love and devotion on one out of 365 days, you might just be a lazy, insensitive jerk whose relationships are doomed to fail regardless of how many tacky necklaces or manly tool sets you buy. (Although my gorgeous wife of 17 years adheres to the latter philosophy, I assure you it’s not because I’ve ever been foolish enough to purchase heart-shaped jewelry.)
You could also argue that the Day of Chocolates and Broken Hearts is a counterproductive crutch that promotes laziness by giving losers an escape mechanism that merely prolongs the pain of a doomed relationship. In other words, it fools significant others into believing the once-a-year romanticism is proof that an ass-dragger is turning over a new leaf. More often than not, the ass-dragger is just engaging in self-preservation—hoping that shelling out a few bucks will make up for the past year’s apathetic coasting and serve as a down payment on another 364 days of dumbassery.
And that brings up one of the only arguments in favor of Valentine’s Day. If we didn’t have February’s nonstop barrage of Zales and Kay Jewelers commercials prompting brain-dead idiots to get it in gear, there’d probably be a lot higher rates of domestic violence and mariticide. To be sure, this wouldn’t be an entirely bad thing: It’d reduce the number of morons in the gene pool and no doubt provide a substantial number of riveting, if not gruesome, tales. (My bets are on a preponderance of poisoning and steak knives through the sternum, but I digress.)
When all arguments are in, my stance is that Valentine’s Day is a great day to do something extra special, but we all ought to show loved ones we cherish them every day. Even more importantly, you’ve got to find cool-ass ways to periodically surprise your lover/ spouse/partner throughout the year. As Pavlov’s dog proved, rewarding at random intervals induces drooling—and that can definitely be a good thing. (Rrrawwrrr!) Just don’t do it with lame copout gifts like those we’re seeing schlepped left and right in the name of romance right now. Put some thought into it, for cuss’ sake! And remember: Price isn’t important, but cleverness and sweetness are.
This leads me to my main point: When was the last time you used your musical skills to tell that special someone how much they make you drool? If you’re counting on your main squeeze being hot for you for years to come simply because you’ve got Dewey Finn’s power stance down pat, you’re not only overestimating the appeal of rock-star-quality posing, you’re also overlooking the impending arrival of paunch, wrinkles, and/or hair loss— none of which reinforce the power of power stance.
As for me, I’ll admit I’m guilty of not using my meager 6-string skills for the loftiest pursuits. I wrote an acoustic ditty for my love on her birthday 18 years ago when we were dating, and then I recorded another for her about 10 years ago. That was pretty much it until a few months ago, when I started jotting down lyric ideas in my iPhone whenever inspiration struck. It doesn’t make up for the years of neglect and failure on my part, but it’s a start.
Part of the problem has been that I’ve spent so much of my musical life focusing on trying to play stuff I think is cool, which means my abilities as a singer-songwriter aren’t what they could be—and we all know nobody thinks of an instrumental when they think of a love song.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m sure as hell not advocating that any of us become 6-string-toting Enrique Iglesias or Mariah Carey wannabes. I’ll personally have your subscription revoked if you try anything of the sort. But certainly there has to be some middle ground where we can create something that’s got nice guitar work and that has significance to those we hold dearest. I mean, what could be cooler than that, really? In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’d be a real waste and a shame if each of us didn’t regularly use these planks of wood and wire to send amorous arrows into the hearts of the only other things on earth that can compete with the joy we get from holding them in our arms.