Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14, 2009: Valentine’s Day 2009 -- Love in the Time of Bailouts

Two years ago, I wrote an entry here called The Grinch That Stole Valentine’s Day. In it, I advocated boycotting the manufactured holiday just on G.P., that real love meant showing your significant others year-round how much they mean to you in more substantive ways than gifts, flowers, and candy. When I wrote the post in 2007, people weren’t flush with cash, but they still had more in their pockets than lint and chewing gum wrappers. People who thought that my advice was bunk could still manage the requisite Valentine’s Day flourish.

Well, flash ahead to 2009. If this whole sad situation we find ourselves in were a novel, it would be some magical realism faux Gabriel Garcia Marquez-esque gem called Love in the Time of Bailouts. Forget the usual roses and Whitman’s Sampler. The credit card you might’ve charged them on is either over the limit or the property of a bank that just failed. No limo; the car company who made it just filed for bankruptcy. Yes, your plan for a candlelight dinner has come to fruition, but only because the power’s off. And that peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich that you and your squeeze were sharing has given you both salmonella. It truly is enough to make your favorite R&B singer beat the daylights out of his girlfriend. Hypothetically speaking, of course…

And don’t underestimate the global reach of Love in the Time of Bailouts. I had to look no further than Facebook for validation of my hypothesis. In a clip of the Bahamian Channel 12 show, My Five Cents, the host, Kevin Curry Esq. and the My Five Cents team asked men – most of them toothless for some reason! – how the economic downturn has affected their Valentine’s Day plans. Though the tone of the piece was quite colloquial and hilarious (the magical aspect of magical realism), there was, to me, something all too real there (obviously, the “realism” in magical realism). One man said that money you might spend on flowers could feed someone. Another said Valentine’s Day is a scheme to extract money from those who are struggling daily. Yet another brothah said all his girl was getting this year was love. Pretty bleak stuff under the veneer of humor and parody.

Uncharacteristically (y’all know I’m a cynic), I’ve tried to look at the upside of Love in the Time of Bailouts. If your significant other is still with you, eating PB and J by candlelight, after the flowers, candy, and bling are but fond memories of the Clinton years, then you know that that person’s feelings for you are real. I’m trying to keep hope alive, like Jesse Jackson. And that one brothah in the My Five Cents video clip who promised that next year, his dentures would be fixed.

I have reason to be optimistic. As I write this, I’ve just found out that the 787 billion-dollar stimulus package passed the Senate by a vote of 60-38. The House had passed it earlier in the day. So, with any luck, Love in the Time of Bailouts will be another tale set in a quaint bygone era, and we’ll be back to our same shallow, self-absorbed selves come next year. Here’s hoping…

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