If love is blind then why is Ann Summers so popular? or maybe I am just a cynic…
Let’s start with Saint Valentine. Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. There are no fewer than 14 Saint Valentine’s. The Valentine’s remembered on the 14th of February are, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Valentine of Rome was a priest who was martyred about AD 269 and who is buried on the Via Flamina. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome, and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in our own city of Dublin, if you want to see his bones not jump them.
The St Valentine I speak of, is also the patron Saint of fainting. Which makes sense, as I’m sure there are many incidences of people getting their knees trembled while in the throes of passion. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers, which is keeping with ‘love is the honey’ and all that. He’s also the patron saint of engaged and married couples. Makes sense. Still, he is patron saint of the plague too. Which at first doesn’t make sense? But if you think about it, love and the plague have a lot in common: the aches and pains, the high temperature, the heavy breathing, the nausea. And usually it’s too late to do anything about it. Not bad work for a saint of whom there’s no real evidence he ever existed.
Let me say from the outset I am no expert in love between a couple. Like every other loon, I just have an opinion. Some scientist somewhere described it as lust, attraction and attachment — which is pretty decent explanation. Lust is easy to explain. Both people are physically attracted to each other. There is a spark — like the one just before the ‘big bang’ and you engage in bouts of marathon-like sex, contorting your body into positions that would earn you an Olympic gold in gymnastics.
Attraction seems pretty straightforward too. Their can be no love without attraction. People may say there is no such thing as love at first sight. But that’s where love begins; with that first look of attraction, that fleeting glance or smile…
Attachment is more complex — it blinds you to the other’s faults and it lessens the pain of the other’s behavior. You rationalise it and make it more acceptable. The only way you usually get over attachment is that you might end up being hurt so badly that you begin to view the relationship in a detached way. Equally, it can be a wonderful thing, and the sense of attachment mutual to the point you can never imagine yourself without that other person.
As you may have gathered I am a cynic. You get all the old clichés during and after a break up:
“There’s plenty more fish in the sea.” We are constantly told the seas are overfished, so forgive me for thinking all the other fish have already been eaten.
Another cliché is: “What’s for ya wont pass you by.” Like, say, cancer or Alzheimer’s.
“It’s not you its me.” Which translates into: “I couldn’t be bothered making the effort with you.”
“I’d really like us to stay friends” translates into: “I’d like to sleep with other people…” Just not you.”
Something caught my eye a couple of months ago — an elderly couple just sitting at a park bench feeding the various pigeons, ducks and swans. Probably too old to be standing for any length of time, they were just sitting there holding hands, only letting go to break the bread and feed the birds.
This in a world where couples are judged on their material wellbeing, the price of birthday and Christmas presents for each other, how many holidays and city breaks they have in a year, the gold-plated toilet roll holders in their en-suite…
Unable to envisage myself having grand aspirations or plans to emulate that lovely couple’s obvious tenderness for each other at that age made the cynical me wistful. It warmed my cold heart and shone a light into where there was only cynical darkness before. A wiser man than I once told me you should never forget to remind the woman you decide to wake up with why she is with you. Is it as simple as that? Maybe it is…