Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hey! Don't you Point That Arrow At Me!

“Little arrows in your clothing, little arrows in your hair,
When you’re in love you find those little arrows everywhere…” – Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood

Valentine"s Day is a strange holiday.

Whose idea was it to use the image of an arrow going through a heart to symbolize love? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t that kill you? It’s hard to get romantic when you’re dead. Maybe the romantic part comes when, gasping your last breath, you confess your undying love. “I’ve…always (cough, cough) loved you. (Gasp, croak) I have a theory that Cupid was actually a serial killer who hired a good PR agent to change his image.

In Roman Mythology Cupid is a god, but not in a “Hugh Jackman is built like a Roman god.” kind of way. Cupid is a short, chubby little guy, more like a young Danny Devito. They say Cupid is the Roman god of desire and erotic love. No dinner and a movie with him, it’s straight to business.

Now, the valentine heart in no way resembles the actual cardiac muscle, so from where did this symbol originate? One theory is that in the seventh century BCE, the seedpods of a now extinct plant were used as an ancient form of birth control, and these seedpods were in the shape of – you guessed it – the valentine. Another theory is that the shape of the valentine can be related to various sexual parts of the human anatomy, sort of simplistic porn, if you will. And with the arrow being the sign of the male, the symbolism of the arrow through the heart is self explanatory.

So, who was St. Valentine…or were the Saints named Valentine? That is a good question, as the only thing known for sure is that more than one priest named Valentine was canonized in the early centuries. One popular story is that a Roman priest named Valentine refused to renounce his faith and was executed. That doesn't sound very romantic to me. In fact, none of these ancient stories seem to have anything to do with romantic love. 

The first written incidence of St. Valentine being connected to romantic love is in a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, “Parlement Of Foules” (1382)

"For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

He made it up. Or as the character of Chaucer in the movie, “A Knight’s Tale” said, “…I give the truth scope.”

 And in 1797, the first “mechanical valentines” were printed for those young men with no head for poetry. In other words, fake sentiment was now being mass produced.

Where does eating chocolates enter into this?  Delicious, yes, but is that the only reason they are given on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps it is because chocolate has been rumoured to cause a change in brain chemistry, producing feelings similar to that of love, giving the suitor an advantage. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant, as this tale fits with the rest of the Valentine fiction.

So, what does all this mean? Valentine’s Day, which currently is thought of as a day to express feelings of admiration, friendship and love, had a less that innocent or romantic beginning. If I combine elements from each of these tales, this is what I conclude. Valentine’s Day is a day to commemorate the life of a stranger, characterized by women taking birth control, reading assembly line sentiment, while eating mood altering sweets from a pornographic box, hoping to get skewered by a portly, little horn-dog.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A New Reign

“The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!”

Cleo was my cat. Or more accurately, I was her person, for she ruled the roost. I was heartbroken when she died and, for the longest time, out of the corner of my eye, I would think I saw her walking past, or lying on the chair. I even swear I felt her jump up on the bed one night. And when I came home from work I expected to have her greet me at the door, as she always had. In our first house she even climbed on the kitchen chair next to the back door and put her paw on the door handle as if to open it for me, or for whomever she heard coming up the stairs. She was smart, just like her person. I still miss her.

After two years of having a feline free household, the time finally felt right to introduce a new cat into our family unit….Okay, my daughter, Stephanie, wanted to get a new cat, I still felt guilty about attempting to replace Cleo. How could I betray her memory like that? Then I rationalized that I wouldn’t be betraying her because it would not be my cat, it would be Stephanie’s cat, and off to the SPCA we went.

I told Stephanie I did not want her to get one that looked like Cleo, as that would be too weird.  She agreed, so no tiger striped cats. We walked into the kitten area and what do we find, but a tiger-striped kitten. Nope, couldn't do it. That was fine, as Stephanie did not want a young kitten, instead she wanted one slightly older that had already been spayed or neutered, so into the back, adult room we went. (Hmmm, that didn’t sound quite right.) We looked at the older cats.

There is no happier or sadder place than the SPCA. You are immediately surrounded by these loving, playful, beautiful creatures who only want to be cuddled, petted and played with, but you know, even though you want to take them all, that there is only room for one of them in your home. If I had the means, I would have taken three or four with me. (Can you say crazy cat lady?)

I would have had a terrible time choosing which furball to take home, but luckily that was my daughter’s call, and it seemed to be no contest. As soon as we reached Samara’s cage, that was it. She took to the grey and white, long-haired beauty right away. I tried talking up other cats - cats with short fur - but she was set on Samara, so I prepared myself for the inevitable layer of white fur soon to be covering my floors.

We picked Samara up two days later, and took her straight to the vet for a check-up, and in the examining room, waiting for the vet, we let her out and she jumped up on Stephanie’s lap, something Cleo would never have done. During the 15-20 min drive home she purred and played with Stephanie through the carrier’s lattice-like door. Cleo would have nervously meowed/yowled from the time the car started until she was in the house. Once home she let us pick her up and cuddle her. Cleo would have struggled to be put on the floor. This cat was definitely not Cleo.

I have to say, I have also taken to Samara. She is a sweetheart, very loving and playful. I have slipped and called her Cleo once or ten times, but I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is room in my life for another animal. The Cleo reign is over. The age of Samara has begun…until Stephanie moves out and takes her…if I let her.