Valentine’s Day doesn’t rank high on the favorite holiday’s list with most men. It’s more of a pain in the ass than a pleasure, a minor holiday that can cause major problems if you’re in a relationship with someone that cares about it and forget to play your part.

It originated as a Christian feast day, but in modern times has evolved into a feast of capitalism. It’s a Hallmark holiday where you’ll find thousands of desperate men roaming the card and flower sections of grocery stores striving for that perfect, but minimal, last minute symbol of affection for their beloved.

If you’re in love, it’s a fine day, but if you have no one in your life, I suppose it can be painful or just nothing at all.

I actually have fond memories of Valentine’s Day. It always struck me as a cheerful holiday whereas Easter was about some poor dude getting nailed to a cross. At Christmas, you could get coal in your stocking. Halloween was about ghouls, but I did have a strange fascination with darkness. I can remember sitting in elementary school making Valentine’s, pasting white doilies to red and pink pieces of paper and writing messages to imaginary people. Or mom. I recall making them for my mother, although I’m sure she took little notice of them.

And therein lies the roots of my lifelong obsession with love and romance. Goddamn mother issues. Rejected by mum, I decided to pursue women with great fervor and kept myself surrounded by girls and later, women. I wrote my first love letter in second grade to a girl named Gail Hilliard who quickly rejected my advances in favor of some kid named Kirk Christian. Odd that I still remember their names. I remember running into her at a college party and reminding her I had written that letter. For the rest of the party I remember her looking terrified and not straying far from a protective circle of friends.

I followed up second grade with my first official girlfriend, Cynthia. I doubt she remembers me, but I remember her and her straw colored blonde hair like it was yesterday. Good thing I had a wonderful, patient teacher, Mrs. McRae, because I’m sure she knew I wasn’t the least bit interested in actual schoolwork. It was a pattern that would continue unabated until my senior year when I all of the sudden had a moment of clarity and realized I better focus less on girls and more on books.

The torrid love affairs began high school. Well, mostly lust driven relationships, as I was a quite randy young man. Patricia was my first. A buxom blonde that was sweet as a Keat’s sonnet. I lost my virginity with her in the backseat of a ’77 Oldsmobile at the MidSouth Fair while wearing a cast on lower right leg. It was a bit of challenge getting my Levi’s down my leg, but my determination was sufficient. Deep love didn’t happen until college, with my Irish lust goddess Erin, and while the relationship ended in heartbreak for me, I realized in later years I had dodged a bullet with Erin. She was a beautiful, supremely intelligent young woman, but her life took some very dark turns.

But the roots of my lifelong quest for love are rooted in being rejected by my mother. No little boy needed a mom’s love more than me, but I never had it. She handed me off to my grandmother, a saint of a woman, but it’s never like being loved by your own mother. So I went on a quest, a conquest actually, for the love of women.

I needed a lot of them. They became a salve of sorts, healing my old wounds. Prodigious numbers were needed to convince me I wasn’t damaged goods. I collected women like baseball cards. Some were of great value, while others were little more than stock variety, sacrifices to my relentless ego and insane sex drive. Nothing meant as much to me as being cradled in the arms of a naked woman.

Then one day, I finally figured out what true love really is. It wasn’t a passionate embrace in an art gallery. Kissing in the Parisian rain. Writing a love poem or making love in the desert. Love is best described, in the words of Robert Heinlein, “that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

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