The Bar Jester Says, “Valentine’s Day Can Kiss My …”

by Jason Peters on February 15, 2012 · 6 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Culture, High & Low


Rock Island, IL

Valentine’s Day, though it is a day of obligation, is not a high holy day in the Bar Jester economy (at least as far as he’s concerned). Mind you: the conventions get followed. The penalty for not following them is too great for any such working stiff as Yours Unruly not dutifully to observe, but the day named for Saint Valentinus doesn’t quite carry the weight of those other burdensome days, chief among them birthdays.

But let us, in this vein, consider the birthday. Do you, honored reader, deserve to be commemorated for enduring less than a tithe of the trauma you mother endured to bring you into this vale of sorrows? We should much rather honor your mother for each day she was delivered of her several brats than honor those brats for taking their first sweet breath of polluted air on whatever day some unhappy on-call physician happened to slap them on the fanny.

Are we going to allot one sole greeting-card day in May to Mothers, while for years on end those of woman born get balloons and cake and neckties and manicures?

Uh-uh! That one day in May may be a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket, but fie on birthdays! Pox take ‘em! Let us on the days of our birth honor our mothers, not ourselves.

Says the Bar Jester: let birthdays pester us no more so long as our mothers live.

On to Christmas:

Worst Day of The Year, hands down, especially for those pure souls ill-disposed to enter a retail zone in the days preceding it—the days, that is to say, that so trouble and excite our economic prognosticators, who, to their unacknowledged shame, gave us the term “black Friday.”

On to wedding anniversaries.

Now here’s a conundrum. What should a man do? No man knows. No man has ever known. No man has ever passed the test of the anniversary.

Oh, I grant you, men have come out smelling better than usual on this most excruciating of days, but only at considerable cost to their manhood.

The Bar Jester allows that the anniversary is an important marker on the calendar, though it harkens back to the dictionary definition of Niagara Falls (“a young bride’s second big disappointment”). But it is a day of obligation almost impossible to survive.

Her car is bereft of jumper cables, so you buy her a pair.

Dog house.

She doesn’t have any golf clubs (because she doesn’t play golf), so you buy her some.

Dog house.

There’s no single-malt scotch in the house, so you buy her a bottle.

Dog house.

She doesn’t own a decent set of commentaries on the book of Judges, so you buy her one.

Dog house.

There’s no reading lamp on your side of the bed, so, to keep from having to burn the overhead light, you buy her one (for your side).

Dog house.

Obviously a man can’t survive the anniversary, and the reason is that the anniversary never means the same great precious tender beautiful thing to him that it means to her, so he suffers.

“Yes,” say those on behalf of her, “but what about her birthday?

See anniversary, above.

Which brings us back to Valentine’s day. If memory serves the Bar Jester, he recalls that in the Eastern Church the Bishop Saint Valentine is commemorated in July, which is a very unproblematic and uncomplicated time of year. No one expects anything the first week of July, what with all the fake patiotism in the air. July? July is for BBQd chicken and gins & tonic, not for commemorations. If the Bar Jester had a birthday in July, he would expect nothing of anyone. (He already expects nothing of anyone.)

Let’s face it: Valentine’s day is a trick on suckers. Do you have someone you love? Love him. Love her. Don’t attempt to prove yourself thoughtful by giving money to Hallmark. “Thoughtful” means “full of thought,” and, near as the Bar Jester can tell, there isn’t anything “thoughtful” about what we do those days the all-tyrannous calendar tells us to shop for.

The Dog House is a little cramped and cold this time of year. Can anyone put the Bar Jester up for a while?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jeffrey Polet February 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

Do you need a hug?

avatar Gabe Ruth February 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Very politically astute piece, showing a keen understanding of the modern familial power structure, while suggesting a more just political economy. Having just celebrated a first birthday, I suspect that in addition to logical problems regarding the individual being celebrated, there are serious principle-agent issues (at the beginning), and maybe some evidence of Stockholm syndrome (as they get older). A pox on them, indeed.

avatar Phil Koesterer February 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I’m there.

avatar Josh Cooney February 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

For other enthusiasts on the book of Judges:

avatar Siarlys Jenkins February 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I have always told the lady who probably won’t make up her mind to marry me until I’m on my deathbed that I love her every day of the year, so what’s so special about February 14. Purely by coincidence, we went to Olive Garden on the 15th.

I think my birthday is starting to fit your philosophy. It is primarily a day to keep my mother happy by going to visit. She (and I) are at an age where she wants to see as much of me as possible, contrasting with the days of my youthood when she looked forward to my getting out and fending for myself.

avatar robert m. peters February 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Actually, I do think of my mother on my birthday. I also think of my father. I had some blood disorder, and Papa gave me his blood. I also think of my paternal grandmother. She, having given birth to eight children and having been a midwife to scores of other women, is the one who detected, not the doctors, by my color that there was “something wrong with that baby.” I also arrived unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day, at 11:22 a.m., interrupting Thanksgiving dinner (noon meal in our climes) for the rest of the clan. My birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day about once every seven years. It is a part of the familial litany that each detail of the summary which I have rendered supra be retold. So, my birthday is a day of thanks.

I have not forgotten an anniversary in forty-one years, stipulating that we have been married forty-one years. On our twenty-fifth, I took the good wife, leaving the bad one at home, to a well-known restaurant out on the lake in the sticks. She ordered oysters and found among her oysters, two pearls. She was elated. She still has them. I do not speak of the pearls as often as I should because the two pearls triggers in the mind of my wife two gold nuggets, each a little over an ounce, which I found years ago before I ever knew that she existed. I gave them to my cousin from whom they were later stolen. Given the price of an ounce of gold these days, she reminds of the folly of my giving my cousin the gold. So, I can tell y’all the story of the pearls without its being linked to the gold because my wife does not visit this site.

This Valentine’s Day, my school sold carnations as a fund raiser. I purchased four: two for each of the two women in my life (The bad wife does not count.): my wife and my ninety-five-year-old mother. They were a hit. They still grace our breakfast table. My friend bought some of the carnations for his wife only to discover that she does not like carnations. I delivered them and was told to leave them outside. My mother did suggest that my school might consider selling nice red roses next year. I took that as a hint.

As to dog houses, the dogs that I have live in my house. They even have their own door; so I suppose that I live in a dog house; however, I encountered the potential for the metaphorical dog house today. Among the many things which I purchased were bread and eggs. The young man who helped put the groceries in the car said, “Sir, I put your eggs and your bread in separate places on the floorboard. There’s nothing that’ll get a man in the dog house quicker than squished bread or a broken egg!” I, being the frugal sort, usually give a one-dollar tip in Yankee money; however, not for the advice, for I learned that years ago, but for the insight which he had at such an early age, I gave him two dollars.

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