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.
She doesn’t have any golf clubs (because she doesn’t play golf), so you buy her some.
There’s no single-malt scotch in the house, so you buy her a bottle.
She doesn’t own a decent set of commentaries on the book of Judges, so you buy her one.
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).
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?