Back in the good old days of 2003, the Black Eyed Peas, newly featuring the one and only Fergie, dropped some knowledge on our brains, along with a few beats, and made us all ask one, simple question:
“Where is the Love?”
So, I thought on it, prayed on it, and ten years later I’ve got a question of my own: “What kind of love?”
[Insert Valentine’s Day column here, pursued by a bear (and not some Teddy Bear with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Unless it’s milk chocolate. Chocolate just isn’t chocolate unless it’s got some milk in it, am I right?)]
Love is without bounds, limitless. And yet all we do is spend our time wrapping it up with pretty bows and ribbons, squeezing it into the four walls of our hearts, or encrusting it with diamonds and placing it in a rather plain box. What happened to the days when “L” was for the way you looked at me? When Love was all that I could give to you?
Love conquers all, but can it ever move past the four letters we’ve given it — not to mention all of those lovely clichés (pun intended)? Those three little words: “I Have Reese’s,” as the peanut-buttery commercial would like us to believe. But how about “I love you”? I’m in love with you, I love you, I’m falling in love, I love to read, I love, I love, I love! How can one word mean so many inconceivable things?! And how far is that from “I hate you”? Just the tip of a hat away? Yet they mean a world of difference that we as English speakers fit into a thimble on a daily basis.
I blame the Germans, of course. That’s still allowed, right? Per my historical rearing, and the Germanic roots of our language, it just seems to fit. I blame them for giving us a language that just doesn’t cut it when it comes to describing love. Or rather, I should blame them for letting us use their language without telling us the proper rules! While the rules of the road may be mere suggestions to me, you don’t just give a kid a plane and tell him to go fly. Can I get an Icarus up in here? Bueller? Bueller? No?
Let me put it this way: The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary has nine definitions of Love, most of which break down into at least two differing definitions — if not more — so that puts us at somewhere around eighteen different kinds. Eighteen! If you gave each definition its own year, Love would officially be a legal adult, able to serve in the army, vote and got to jail. But, surprisingly, still unable to drink — I suppose booze and Love never really made a great couple anyway. The definitions have everything from copulation (the sexual embrace), to a warm attachment (love of koalas), to a score of zero (as in tennis). Great. Wonderful. Why not just put Love in the dictionary and underneath have a mini exhibit of Jackson Pollock’s life works. Limitless, indeed!
We English speakers, lacking the matured nuances of the rest of the world, rely heavily on such factors as poetry, everybody’s best friend — the one you ditched back in third grade when you started thinking catching cooties might not be such a bad thing, that is. I mean, Valentine’s Day wasn’t even associated with romantic love until the idea was introduced by Chaucer’s posse back in the High Middle Ages in defiant opposition to courtly love (Screweth thy chivalry!). But eventually we gave up on poetry too, and then it turned into Hallmark Cards ©, which eventually turned into “Roses are red, violets are blue, [screw] you [loose maiden of many beds’ sheets]!” Excuse my French, even if it is the language of love.
So, a day for love becomes a day for hating the opposite sex, a holy day becomes moldy with capitalism, this little flicker in the midst of a freezing winter is snuffed out with Nemo’s icy fist. In laymen’s terms: A romantic proposal has become “If you like it then you better put a ring on it.” And while I am quite the connoisseur of women’s fingers, tossed in a nice fresh salad with some ranch dressing on the side, enough is enough people. And this is enough!
But where does my man Saint Valentinus weigh in on all of this? Well for one thing I’m betting he wished he had died on June 14th instead. At least that way we would be celebrating his achievements during the summer, dressed in bikinis and sandals, instead of bundled up in jackets the size of a miniature vans with internal thermostats permanently broken on either “sweaty balls” or “icy death.” But when you’ve been dead for a gazillion and two years, how do you battle against events like the St. Valentine Day Massacre back in 1929 (also on a Thursday)? No, Al, I prefer to remain amongst the living, thank you very much.
Maybe Ingrid Bergman got it right — “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” And perhaps, at this point, my words have done just that.
So, instead, in the words of my home-boy, Cupid Valentino — the modern-day cupid — “Happy Valentine’s day, every day the 14th! If you know what love is, somebody tell me?”
David Fontana is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a weekly columnist for the Daily Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.