• v day •

About two thousand years ago, a Roman king, Emperor Claudius Gothicus, a.k.a., “Claudius the Cruel”, issued an executive order, I mean, edict, outlawing marriage, juuuuust because, as the story goes, he had trouble getting to sleep, one night, and decided he needed an army.
(For what, he didn’t yet know, it just came into his head, one day, and that, as they say, was that. Isn’t that just the way? Not to worry, this story has a happy ending. Er, no, no, not really.)
“Don’t staaaaand, in m’way!” King Claudius could be heard to say (‘tweeting’ away, like a jaybird), at least three times a day, sometimes all night, and four times, at least, betimes, when he had had the insomnia.
Now, it seems, in those heady days of Empire only landowners could join the army. And yet, crazily, these, more often than not, married men, were somewhat reticent to go to war because – get this – it turns out that they had rather ‘stay ‘home’, safe and sound, with the wife and kiddos, than to risk dismemberment and/or death, for the king’s amusement, or whatever. Say, what?!! I know, right? (*Shrug*) Go figure.
So, new law: no marriages, period. No sanctified unions. No connubial bliss. Nope. None of it. (I mean, what’s the point of having total power, if you can’t be a total dick? Am I right?) So, from here on in, no one is getting married. No one, no way, no how! And no, ‘King’s X’!
So, needless to say, in very short order, every Roman man-jack of them is pissed off and horny, and ready to (I’ve waited a ‘lifetime’ to resurrect this line), “Crush! Kill! Destroy!!” A perfect state for a perfect union, ñ’es pas? Indubitably. In fact, ((*sniff!!*)) I’m getting all verklempt, just thinking about it.
As it happens (spoiler alert), there was a certain Roman priest, a dissenter, who, believing in the inviolability of the institution of marriage, was defying the king’s decree (drumroll, please) by performing illegal marriages. (God, ‘trumping’ the king’s wishes, so to speak, was his thinking, I guess, being God, and all, and all, like that.)
So, it followed, that on February 14 (sometime between 269 A.D. and 278 A.D.), on the orders of the king (oh, and for ‘breaking’ the ‘law of the land’), the recalcitrant priest was unceremoniously sentenced to death: a gruesome three part execution, of a beating, a stoning, and finally a decapitation (Yuck!), all because of his unwavering stand on marriage.
His name was Valentine. Yes, that one. That’s, ‘Saint V’, to you and me. Put that in your Whitman’s Sampler, and smoke it. I’ll support you, in that. Yep, that’s me, ever the traditionalist. You can even borrow my lighter.
Now, by all means, feel free to be romantic, that is, if you’ve still got the stomach for it. And why not, eh? It’s on St. V’s nickel. I say, go for it.
~ Tim Burchfield
2/13/17 (revised)

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