Posted by: deadmousediaries | February 12, 2014

Some Questions for Cupid – A Valentine’s Day reflection from Mitchell Kyd

It’s a fact; love is a battleground and there are lots of casualties.  The leading cause of divorce in this country is marriage so with a recent fresh assault from Cupid, I think it’s time someone starts asking the tough questions. For instance,  what has happened to the saintly component that was part of St. Valentine’s Day? Who decided that it was okay to have a chubby little naked kid circling around us with a loaded weapon one day each year?  Who really guards our air space every February 14th?

Cupid flew in from  Roman mythology. He was the child of Venus and best known for shooting arrows into his victims, forcing them to fall blindly and helplessly in love — with the very next person they encountered. We’ve all seen the results of this juvenile delinquent’s handiwork; how else would you explain the proliferation of so many mismatched couples or the continuing popularity of  the I’m with Stupid t-shirts.

February 14th truly  started as a way of honoring St. Valentine, a figure in  Christian history. In fact there were three Saint Valentines, all of whom were martyred.  The word martyr already gets tossed around too often when describing the lasting effect of many romantic entanglements so that alone might explain why we’ve come to  embrace a naughtier spokesman for this lover’s holiday.  And besides, it’s obvious that Cupid had more staying power as a marketable commodity.  With his James Dean attitude and photogenic gluteus maximus, he projects a better media image for branding boxes of overpriced chocolates and edible undies than some gaunt, ancient guy who died for his convictions.

So every year, Cupid continues to aim, shoot, score.  The minds of his  victims are reduced to the consistency of cherry cordials by his highly publicized barbs and then the chemically-induced courting ensues. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes insert- name-here with the baby carriage as the old jump-rope rhyme goes.  Well, I have questions about all that, too.

Why do they call it a marriage license? I know why my doctor has a license; it’s a guarantee that she has made a personal investment in getting the right knowledge and experience to deserve my trust. I know why my electrician and hair stylist each have a license; it means they have earned competency in the field where they provide me with a service and they are accountable to some higher authority for regular reviews. Even a driver’s license requires proof of some level of skill and performance, for goodness sakes! But what competency is required for a marriage license?? Zip. Zero. Nada.

When Doug and I first announced our impending marriage to my parents, my dad told my then-fiance about the marriage license.  “It only takes $2 to get married,” he said with a grin.  “And every penny you earn after that.”  Thanks, Dad.

Maybe we should build some competencies into the granting of marriage licenses to make sure we’re all getting what we’ve paid for.  Instead of taking blood tests, maybe we should be able to  pass the blood-tolerance test to find out if a future spouse will be capable of extracting a baby tooth or cleaning up a kid’s bloody nose on the ball field.  Will he/she truly enjoy those romantic evenings snuggled together on the couch watching another episode of CSI after a dinner of steak tartare?

While we’re at it, I vote for including aptitude tests in the marriage licensing process. That will help determine if a future spouse can tell the dirty dishes in the sink from the clean ones or if they can calculate the value of a 20%-off coupon on an $20 item that’s 15 miles away. We will also know if they know what repair jobs require a plumber rather than another length of duct tape.

Motor skills tests will evaluate their ability to properly replace a roll of toilet paper, remove the trash from all the waste cans or operate the TV when the remote is missing. Visual acuity exams will clear up whether they can see the dust rhinos under the sofa, distinguish  fresh hairballs from the bathroom carpet or find the jar of  pickles clouded by conspiracy and hidden behind the mayo.

A few years ago while my husband and I  were on a little vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, my matron of honor visited our house and dropped off an anniversary card.  Tucked inside were the original hand-scratched notes from our wedding vows, his and mine, the ones we had both written in secret and not shared with the other until our ceremony.  It was an amazing gift (Thank you, Deborah!) and I’m not sure what amazed me more. Was it that she had the forethought to collect them from us on our wedding day? Or kept them safe all those years? Or had remembered where she had stashed them by the time that quarter century milestone had finally rolled around?

There were a lot of Cupid’s hallmarks in those notes, gooey stuff about love and promises and forever-ness. There wasn’t a single thing in written down where either of us vowed to take turns getting up with a teething baby, or  slosh around in a flooded basement, or get up early to scrape the ice off the other’s windshield, just because.

But all of that and more has manifested over the years and surprisingly, with just a $2 license and a blood test. We first  met in April so I suspect we had escaped the zing of Cupid’s arrow.  Perhaps that explains why we’re still together when so many other fires have burned out.  (And we would most surely have failed a competency test  all those yeas ago.)  We got to where we are one microwaved dinner and leaky faucet at a time so we’ve had lots of time to examine the invisible ink on that marriage license.   For those of you still in Cupid’s sights, make an informed decision about donning the chainmail.  It’s the little things that matter; the devil and all rewards are hiding in the details.

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