How To Buy True Love

If I have to watch one more jewelry commercial equating true love with the ability to afford expensive baubles and deliver them in insipidly sticky-sweet ways, I do believe I will choke someone out with a pearl necklace. It’s the biggest crock of spit since those Christmas commercials where the smug husband (always the smug husband) leads his blindfolded, perfectly coiffed and made-up (although it’s 7am on Christmas morning) sickly thin wife and his in-vitro fertilized children to her brand new car with all the trimmings and the gigantic red bow on top. Where do you even buy one of those freakin’ things, the Christmas Tree Store for Titans? Really, if you have to go that far to get a little nookie, your marriage is probably listing irretrievably toward doom anyway and won’t be saved by this Hail Mary. Use your excess millions to buy another flat screen for the bathroom, or invest in an immigrant family to harvest organs for possible surgeries—you know, something with a future.

The messages from these cynical advertisements are clear: some people got it and some people don’t, and we’re aiming square at the ones who got it. You don’t get it? You weren’t supposed to. Please move out of the way so our customers can see the TV around your poor-ass, broke, prematurely balding lower class head. In fact, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t be despoiling the air with the smell of your failure. This place is for the well-heeled, not the wedge-heeled.  Jealous?  Sure am!

These jewelry ads are all part of the run up to the next in the class of what I like to call “The Capitalist Holidays”. You know, the ones where you are compelled by society to buy something useless yet expensive to prove your love for your mother, father, spouse, lover, country, secretary, cat, whatever. This month contains the foremost example of this treacherous, greed-fueled, free-market shakedown: Valentine’s Day. I can feel the bile start to rise in my esophagus just speaking about it. Entire industries are built around this inconsequential pseudo-holiday: flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, jewelry, négligée and sex toys all make the majority of their entire YEAR’S profit during the next two weeks. How? Because we’ve been brainwashed to mindlessly carry on this myopic two-step of disappointment and regret. “Every kiss begins with Kay…” It’s romance at gunpoint.

None of this is news, and I’m surely not the first to suggest that our wallets and pocketbooks are being held hostage by these opportunistic, elitist schnooks. My aim is to suggest it with the most venom. I can only speak for myself, and I’ve said before my tastes and the general public’s are often miles and miles apart, but I wouldn’t buy a heart shaped box of chocolates unless it was 95% off the day after Valentine’s Day. You know what Mary El and I get each other? Squat. And it is not JUST because we are cheap and below the poverty line. We surprise each other frequently with a bouquet of flowers or chocolate covered pretzels (as sure a declaration of love as God has yet allowed), on any other day BUT the day we’re “supposed” to. I don’t think we’ve swapped cards since we were dating. Have you checked the price of a Hallmark card lately? It’s like ten dollars a word for some treacly, cloying pablum probably written by a soulless hack in a shabby business suit while walking from his cubicle to the john.

Perhaps we’ve reached a critical mass in our relationship, but our romance usually manifests itself in less obvious ways than a car with a gargantuan bow. Making a cup of coffee without being asked. Allowing each other to sleep in occasionally. Handling breakfast on a Sunday. Coming to each others’ auditions for support. Putting the kids to bed. Watching “Bones”. Doing homework. Reading a new play or listening to a new song. Diamonds may be forever, but doing the dishes means “I love you” right the hell now.

Perhaps it’s too late and these rites of the season have ingratiated themselves into our consciousness so thoroughly that we’d need some kind of Pavlovian, “Clockwork Orange” retraining to shake us loose. You know, just a little electric shock every time we reach for a seventy-dollar cache of roses, or a year off our lives for every card we read. Something easy like that. But actually I think our only chance is to just stop giving in to the pressure and forgo Valentine’s Day spending completely. At first we’ll be inundated with editorials wondering why Americans don’t love each other anymore, but they’ll catch on sooner or later. They’ll try to make up a new holiday, maybe Saint Credit Card Day, but we’ll be too enlightened for that. The flowers will wilt, the chocolates that weren’t sold for 95% off will melt and the sex toys will run out of batteries. We’ll all get each other a night without the kids and a bag of Flipz. Flipz sales will be through the roof, but that’s the kind of capitalism I think I can live with.

    • Joe Petti
    • February 3rd, 2011

    No, no, no….you have it all wrong. The correct way to buy true love is to join the United States Navy and make sure you get on a ship that makes a stop in Thailand.
    THAT is how you buy true love.

  1. THAT is how you buy chlamydia.

    • Joel Flowers
    • February 9th, 2011

    Joe has it right! No messing around with jewelry stores.

  2. He’s just replacing jewelry with Penicillin.

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