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   Feb 14

A Valentine for You!

ebook_cover Penguin Pair

No Valentines today? What did you do to deserve them? Two penguins have some advice for you… and so do I!  

Today, February 14, 2014, is Valentine’s Day. Millions of
people worldwide will participate in this essential rite
of love which usually involves men standing in lines for hours
at expensive candy shops and florists with overburdened,
surly help… then trekking their purchases home, very self-
consciously,  with more hope than expectation that She Who
Must Be Obeyed will be, for an instant, completely satisfied with him.

Millions of people today will get some such token of affection,
usually of the hackneyed chocolate or red rose variety. But
the sad fact is, millions more will get no affectionate sentiment
or token of any kind today… and they will deserve the slight.

To deal with this irritating, indeed humiliating situation, of
the “what a revolting development this is” variety, I have
called upon two love birds of my acquaintance, Penguins Ishaboe
and Spheniscus, inhabitants at the New England Aquarium, Boston,
Massachusetts. They know a thing or two on the subject of
love and affection… and being helpful critters they are happy to
share what they know…

Ishaboe (male) and Spheniscus (female) are a mating pair of
African penguins, a bird so rare that it may well become extinct
in the next 15 years. Concerned researchers at institutions
worldwide are engaged in a strenuous effort to save the
breed while they still can. This means taking an obsessive
interest in their amatory habits. What they’ve learned is instructive…
not just for the penguins but for their love-challenged human keepers as well.

First of all, they like each other… and they’re never afraid to show
it, even with hundreds of prying eyes looking at them.

Ol’ Blue Eyes, crooning Sinatra,  the chairman of the board, knew
just how exciting Total Focus on your love interest can be:

Are the stars out tonight? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright. ‘Cause
I only have eyes for you, dear. (Release date 1949).

Or, if you prefer a more insistent beat, try this punchy line from
the Miracles…

I’m just a love machine… and I won’t work for nobody but
YOU! (Released 1975.)

These smart penguins practice what they preach. Why just
the other day, marooned together on their high-class desert
island (scrubbed clean every single day), splashing care-free
in the 150,000 gallons of Boston Harbor water, constantly
filtered, they literally couldn’t take their eyes off each other… and
didn’t. Even experienced researchers, used to penguin fidelity,
found this  total attention worthy of note.

When was the last time, you gave your love interest your
total, unqualified focus? Stumped? Can’t remember? That’s
where your problems begin… and it doesn’t matter how old
you are, either.

Why, in my Harvard Square neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts
the students at the World’s Greatest University think nothing of
holding hands with Love Interest #1, while furiously text messaging
Love Interest #2. Thus they always have a back-up when their
togetherness shreds, a thing they anticipate, expect, and plan
for. And some dare call this love!

So, Rule #1 to make this day special… don’t just give a
card with printed sentiments written for the poetically
destitute. Don’t merely plunk down a few bucks for a box of Fannie May or
Whitman’s quaint Sampler and think it’s “good enough”. As that wag Sir
Percy Blakeney, baronet, said in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (published 1905)
“There is nothing that is quite so bad as that which is good enough.”

Exactly.

You selected your would-be Valentine for a reason. Recall
that reason now…

Then move out of the dull and dreary to the new, energized,
alluring you, the fountainhead of dreams, seductions, shared pleasures.

Instead of the unexciting red rose, lay down a trail of rose petals that
lead to a pulsating, provocative……… YOU!

Or do a Hansel and Gretel number (from the story by the Brothers Grimm
published 1812). Lay down one tell-tale chocolate after another, until X
marks the spot where your one and only finds…..YOU and nothing but you,
exciting, uninhibited, memorable….

If you’ve let your relationship grow stale, shame on you
when just a little such inventiveness is required to revivify and
re-ignite.

Our penguin pair knows this. When one is away for a moment,
they tenderly call a la Jeanette McDonald. Upon returning, they
bow to each other, polite, thrilled to be rejoined.  To make clear  their
interest, they preen, they posture, they give food to demonstrate
affection… they are assiduous, inventive, playful… and
from their unceasing inventiveness comes a helluva good time;
they enjoy seeing how they can top their own creative efforts and show
the profound affection they so obviously feel for each other.

Our penguin pair knows, too, that the secret of this day is the line
from “My Funny Valentine” (from  the musical “Babes in Arms,” Rodgers
and Hart, 1937.)

Each day is Valentine’s Day.

Here the penguins excel. Today they will act towards each other,
the way they act every day. They will neither note nor care that this
is a day dedicated to the arts of love. Should someone say so, they
would laugh, wondering why any creature, any place limit to a
single day the fond sentiments and delights which are best given
every day, in all  places. They will then go back to their tried and
true ways of love, oblivious to you and me.

It is more than sad that such creatures are imperiled, the victims
of over fishing and changes in ocean currents which remove the
penguins from their foods. Catastrophe looms as their once vast
numbers plummet. If these are, indeed, their last days (though
human friends are helping), they mean to go out as they have lived
these generations past, engrossed in each other, loving as if
there was no tomorrow. And so should we all.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

 

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