This is what he had the nerve to say to me, and all the while doing that thing to my neck that makes me forgive all transgression.
No, every day is not Valentines Day. In fact, with him not even Valentines Day is Valentines Day. Where are my two dozen red roses? Where is my sexy lingerie in a decadent box that’s wrapped in red ribbon? Where are my diamonds? Where is the sickeningly syrupy poem he is supposed to compose for me? Which restaurant did he book weeks in advance anticipating the probable dearth of space on this particular day? And where is my breakfast in bed? Where, in short, is the bathetic display of big love? Lutho! Rien! Niets! Nada! – Nothing!
Who cares who picked this day? What does that have to do with the price of an obscenely large and deliciously vulgar, radiant diamond? The day is here. It has been picked. In fact, it was picked more than two thousand years ago. How dare he be so insolent as to shun over two thousand years of tradition? It’s like ignoring gifts at Christmas or chocolate at Easter. It is reprehensible.
He says it’s all commercialised and it’s just a money making ploy. Yes it is. What’s wrong with that? It is time for shopkeepers to make money and women to get extravagant gifts and get spoiled rotten and get fed in fancy restaurants. It is, in fact, a most perfect of times.
He says it’s not indigenous to our culture. Oh, please. Neither is Jesus but we embrace and celebrate him, don’t we? Don’t come to me with talk of culture. It won’t wash. It’s Valentine’s Day! Dish up those flowers!
Do I have the only man in the world who is so totally utilitarian? I thought I’d check it out with some of my male friends and find out what they think.
One said ‘What about men?’ “What”? You cannot be serious. “What about men”? What kind of silly question is that? I told him that with an attitude like that he deserves to be celibate till next Valentines Day. Then he’ll see what about men. Huh!
I thought I’d have better luck with someone else. But the next one said “Why must it be all about women”? What is wrong with you people? See, that’s why he’s single. It’s Valentines Day. It’s romance, and romance is all about women.
Yet another, more charming one of my male friends said he is persuaded by the idea of skimpy lingerie. He said he was heading off to get something supremely sexy for his lady to wear, champagne and pink Rose petals to sprinkle over the bed. “That’s more like it.” He’s a saucy minx. There is hope!
The thing is that they are all really missing the point. It’s not about men and women. It’s not even about sexy lingerie. It’s about the L-word, and as anyone who wasted their early teens on Mills and Boon, or developed an addiction to Rom Com movies is well aware; the real L-word is LOVE! It is all about the fight to save love.
Valentines Day didn’t just appear. There’s history here. There’s context. It’s important. Two thousand years ago, (ok, it wasn’t in South Africa, but it was in the world) the Emperor Claudius II could not gather an army because when they were away from their wives the men became homesick and lovesick which made them ineffective moping drips instead of fierce fearless warriors. So, the Emperor Claudius II decided that he would put paid to love and ban marriage in the hope of holding the men’s focus on the battlefield.
My man says that could never happen with Zulu men. He says that women, love and passion strengthen Zulu men when they go to battle. That’s why they are such voracious lovers and ferocious warriors.
Anyway, there was a certain priest, by the name of Father Valentine, who loved love. He took pity on young lovers. He assisted in their trysts and he married them in secret. When the emperor discovered his shenanigans, he had Father Valentine arrested and imprisoned. Emperor Claudius II commanded Father Valentine to be beaten with clubs, and then beheaded. His execution was on February 14, in the year 270. Even Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to Saint Valentines memory. Yes, he was made a saint. On the day of his execution, those lovers, would be lovers and married folk who Father Valentine had assisted brought flowers, most specifically roses to celebrate his life and commiserate his death.
And so, on the 14th February every year from 270 until 2013, men have offered gifts of roses to their lady loves in honour of St Valentine, the martyr to love, without whom the sacred rituals of love and marriage and canoodling and kissing and cuddling and divine lasciviousness might have been irretrievably abolished.
Surely that deserves, at the very least, a pair of diamond studs, a silk negligee and a bottle of Cristal.
Neh, sithandwa sami!