Today is St. Valentine’s Day and when I shuffle off this mortal coil 30 or 40 years from now, apparently I will be taking the “St.” part with me. Nobody says that anymore.
It’s a wonderful day to be in love. As Bette Midler, in The Rose, said in her exhilarating and heartbreaking monologue that led up to her bluesy version of “When A Man Loves A Woman,”
Oh, I looove to be in love. Don’t you looove to be in love? Ain’t it just great to be in love? Oh, ain’t it wonderful?
(It still bothers me that Bette Midler didn’t win the Oscar for that performance. Her portrayal of a Janis Joplin-like character was an absolute tour de force. She lost to Sally Field in “Norma Rae.”)
Anyway, I love to be in love and, like most everybody else, I have this nearly unlimited capacity for love. I love my wife and kids. I love tortilla chips and salsa. And I love the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I’ll especially love it this year because I won’t have to worry about the UA Wildcats losing in the first round.
I’m actually pretty good at love; I’ve been married to my gorgeous and highly intelligent college sweetheart for 40 years now. To this day, as it was in the very beginning, people look at her, then they look at me, then they look at her and they think that I’m holding her family hostage. One secret of such blissful longevity is learning to say no. As in:
• No, what happened is not even one-tenth of one percent your fault. It’s all my fault.
• No, I don’t find any of those Miss Universe contestants to be attractive. Especially the ones from Latin America. And:
• No, I was just kidding when I said that, after I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes sprinkled on Sofia Vergara.
As mentioned herein before, I was in my 50s before I realized that my birthday (Nov. 14) is nine months to the day after St. Valentine’s Day. It was several years after that before I could formulate that thought without it being followed by an audible “Ewww!” Still, St. Valentine’s Day is a day to be treasured and one to be milked for all of its opportunities. This might help:
• Best Song With “Love” in the Title: “The Look of Love” by Dusty Springfield. Best known for her Memphis soul classic “Son of a Preacher Man,” Dusty was one of those pasty-faced Brits who grew up worshiping black American music. (She always said that the highlight of her career was singing a duet with Smokey Robinson.) Her sex-infused, slow-and-steamy version of the Burt Bacharach tune caused an outbreak of spontaneous puberty among Baby Boomer boys.
• Best Movie With “Love” in the Title: C’mon, what else could it be but Love Actually? This movie has Oscar winner Colin Firth proposing marriage in broken Portuguese; Emmy winner Martin Freeman as a porn-star stand-in; Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Chiwetel Ejiofor married to wraith-like Keira Knightley; Emmy winner Alan Rickman (who, in his first movie role ever, played the greatest movie villain of all time—Hans Gruber in “Die Hard”); Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Billy Bob Thornton; and Andrew Lincoln, who deserves some kind of award for finally escaping from that dreadful Walking Dead series.
And, of course, it has Hugh Grant, who is the perpetual winner of the Hugh Grant Wonderfulness Award simply for being Hugh Grant.
Technically, Love Actually is a Christmas movie, but for real lovers, it’s an every day of the year movie.
• If you happen to be in a downer mood, listen to Isaac Hayes’ 18-minute, 40-second Soulsville version of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” It’ll rip your heart out and stomp on it. Hayes sets the song up by telling the story of a young man who moves to L.A. and marries an unfaithful woman. Hayes bellows in his deep bass voice, “The power of LOVE was upon him!” After she cheats one time too many, he gets in his car and the torch song unfolds.
• Cole Porter once wrote a hit song with the all-time cheesy title of “I Love You” just to win a bet with a friend. I watched the Porter biopic De-Lovely because another one of my favorite pasty-faced Brit soul singers, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), was in it. Unfortunately, Hucknall is on screen for about a minute and the scene looks like it was filmed from the Goodyear blimp.
• Among the top movies of all time watched on St. Valentine’s Day are Sleepless In Seattle, An Affair To Remember, The Notebook, Pretty Woman and The Way We Were. Yeah, movies that are about a grieving widower, a woman who has been crippled, Alzheimer’s, a hooker and a Communist. Ah, love.
• In the 1970s, two different songs entitled “The Best of My Love” hit Number One on the Billboard charts. The Eagles song was written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley and J.D. Souther. The other was by The Emotions and was written by Maurice White and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire. The Emotions and Earth, Wind & Fire later teamed up on the roller-disco classic “Boogie Wonderland.”
And don’t even pretend that you’ve never skated to “Boogie Wonderland.”