Lesser Gods or Little Candy Hearts

06:00 February 10, 2016
By: Phil LaMancusa

February holidays come in all shapes and sizes. Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and of course we'll be swinging to Carnival time 2014. Punxsutawney Phil and those fine young warriors in tight suits and protective gear will dominate the first part of the month. There will be at least forty parades between the fifteenth and the end of the month. That being said, this discourse will hit upon that remaining holiday that is always memorable for me.

Valentine's has got to be my favorite holiday becaaaauuuuusss...I'm a fool for love. Period. And over the course of my years I've come to regard Valentine's Day as a reaffirmation of faith for my fellow human beings; the fact that this day exists - something we single out of the other three hundred and sixty four - shows me for good and all that the human race is basically a bunch of optimistic romantic saps; I love that.

How we celebrate Valentine's Day, as you know, is purely subjective. As a kid in grammar school, I brought cards for everyone in class and passed them out, what fun! We had little candy hearts with cute sayings on them, we were shy and had cookies and milk; so you see, I was celebrating the holiday way back when I was a wee shave tail. I think that what made it so special was that there was not the angst that went along with other celebrations, all you did was cut hearts out of red construction paper and write in your scrawny penmanship "I LOVE YOU!" and there you go Instagrams!

Of course as I got older the trappings became more intricate: a mushy card for the girl that I met over summer vacation, flowers for a crush on an older woman left on her doorstep and more little candy hearts snuck into unsuspecting pockets and book bags.

Then I got even older and more world wise and it became roses (Valentine's must make millionaires out of rose farmers), chocolates, more elaborate cards and then drinks, dinners and a dates! Do you remember giving (or getting) a gift of one rose and how cool you thought that was? I do and it makes me smile for that feeling. And then I learned how to cook and boy, the real fun began! In fact, falling in love was just about its own reward when Valentine's came around and I got to strut my stuff.

My Valentine's have run the gamut; certainly over the last dozen or so February issues I've written about it enough to paper my dining room walls, so I deserve some cred on the subject as a mentor and a fool, all things regarding heart songs. So, let me tell you the perfect way to celebrate this special day and auspicious occasion (as I see it).

First and foremost, is deciding on the person that you're going to share the occasion with. Choose wisely...this holiday is a once a year thing. Next, clean your house because sooner or later you'll end up there at the end of the day and nothing is worse after a romantic escapade than coming home (alone or with someone) to a messy abode. Then, decide whether you're going with dinner out or in; I prefer in, and if you do as well, this is the time to plan on what food you're going to eat.

Okay, realize this: there's date food and non-date food. Little candy hearts with cute sayings on them is date food, but not really a healthy dinner. It should be food that is bite-size and able to be talked around, not stuff that you have to wait to swallow only after picking up the thread of conversation and the sly innuendos that come with a romantic meal. Food that you can take a little forkful (or bite) at a time: caviar, smoked salmon, farfalle pasta (bow ties), bisque, gumbo, etouffee and yes, those little candy hearts with the cute romantic sayings work as "date food." Spaghetti, barbecue, roast beef po-boys, cream puffs - not "date food." Creme Brulee - yes,: beignets- no...get the picture?

Choosing the right wine is important; yes, wine - not beer or whiskey. Choose something light and white, something innocuous that won't screw up the taste of your Moon Wok/Verde Mart grub or whatever you're serving up (yes, to pull this off you will need to plan or it's gonna be take-out or delivery!). And remember, pretty much with wine you get what you pay for; ask your local merchant for some recommendations in the low twenty dollar range.

No romantic evening is complete without music; no, this is not a night to watch Family Guy, MSNBC or M*A*S*H* reruns. In the old days we would know to play soft sweet slow and low volume material, you know background and mood stuff; heck, I knew a guy that could stack a half dozen pieces in order from "get comfortable" to "et's take some clothes off." Think about it.

Now the perfect scenario would be a bearskin by a fireplace, some brandy, candlelight, Gymnopedie on the box and bellies that are not overstuffed. A quiet hum exists between two supine bodies, utterly passive and inactive; a real Hallmark moment. Their lips come close, their eyes lock, the heat rises "oh, my foolish heart!"

In reality: it's either too warm or too cold, the dog's baying from the other room, a car passes blasting rap music, a siren goes by, the smell of your neighbor smoking pot is driving you up a wall and your cd player is skipping.

So you opt for a stroll, hold hands, eat those little candy hearts and just enjoy each other's company. All's right with the world. Happy Valentine's.

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