My spirits were as wet as the weekend's weather. But rain had kept its promise to go away, sun — at least I think it was sun — was warming the corduroy ice, the thermometer was rising to it-can't-really-be-February levels. The twin pressures of deadlines and dampened spirits left me with little choice but to procrastinate... in a different environment. After a few pre-Family Day crowd runs, I gravitated to the centre of town for inspiration.
Midday at Skier's Plaza was peopled with the usual suspects. Locals were the easiest to spot, fast-walkers beelining from one destination to another, head fogged by work and the elevated midseason blood-alcohol ratio, lost in the crushing minutiae of their day and wondering whether their spirits and money were going to limp along to the end of the season.
The still-puddled pavers were littered with walking wounded, negotiating their casted legs, slung arms, braced necks and bruised egos to yet another in an endless series of physio appointments or lazy lattes, fingers crossed that WorkSafeBC would believe their injuries were work-related.
Tourists laden with shopping bags full of seemingly inexpensive Canadian booty pondered village maps and quibbled about where to lunch, marvelling at how far their Yankee dollars and Euros seemed to stretch. Late-rising Family Day revellers picked at congealing eggs Benedict on dripping, propane-heated patios, congratulating themselves on their staycations and commenting favourably on Whistler Blackcomb's half-price tickets.
And a few hopeless romantics strolled in search of inspiration for the coming celebration of Eros. What to do about Valentine's Day? Pondering whether there was anything new to say, any way that hadn't already been worn out to express the thought du jour of the day coming up far faster and more certain than anything as chimerical as inspiration.
Roses are red...
A much older, wiser, oft-married friend — acquaintance perhaps being a better word — once explained his predilection for serially monogamous relationships, bordering on catch and release, was simply a by-product, casualty was his word, of Valentine's Day. "A man's only got so many good ideas about what to do for Valentine's Day," he told me. "Might be half a dozen, might be 10 or 11, but that's it. After that you have to decide whether you're gonna recycle 'em, fall back on flowers and candy for the rest of your life, or go find'ya a new woman who hasn't known the pleasures of your best Valentine fantasies."
I always figured it was the Sterno and alimony talking, but maybe he had a point. The most common answer you get when you ask a guy, "Wha'cha getting your honey for Valentine's Day?" is, "I don'no." "I don'no" keeps florists, candy shops and overcrowded restaurants in business for much of the month of February, insanely busy on the 14th, and dogs a guy's life every year between Christmas and tax time.
I've never had the sense Valentine's Day is fraught with the same level of performance anxiety for women. Maybe it's a vestige of old pursuer-pursued model — and if so, it's one I haven't heard many tirades about tossing over for a more enlightened view of the world — or maybe it's just an acknowledgment of women's superiority when it comes to dealing with the pressures of holidays. Whichever, or whatever, I've never heard too many who sweat VD the way guys do.
Violets are blue...
So, as a public service, not just to men everywhere but to women who want to lead a truly enlightened, equal, feminist lifestyle, I say enough already. Enough of this social/historical paradigm that places the whole of responsibility for successful flights of amore every Feb. 14 on men. It's time for women to step up and do some of the heavy lifting and there's no better time than now, February 2016, a leap month in a leap year with a leap day tacked on to the end like a paper tail on a donkey at a kid's party.
Pope Gregory's dilemma led to leap year. Pope Gregory XIII — back in the day, Gregory was one of the few names available for popes, which explains how they got all the way to number XIII by the middle of the XVIth century — devised, or more accurately, had someone versed in the heavens as they were known at that time, devise a new calendar to replace the Julian calendar, which was either named after Julius Caesar or small, matchstick shaped vegetables.
The Gregorian calendar fixed a basic problem with the Julian calendar. The basic problem with the Julian calendar was that no one who hadn't dropped a lot of acid understood it. The Julian calendar sprinkled extra days around like pigeon feed in a park to make up for the fact there was no universally understood calendar that synced with the astronomical reality of life on Earth.
Being a simple man, Gregory decided it would be easier to just add one extra day every four years. Close enough, especially for a religion that still wasn't ready to accept the heretical notion the sun was the centre of the solar system. Silly people; why did they think it was called a solar system?
How to show my love...
At any rate, to move this column along, traditions arose throughout Europe that leap years were a time when it was permissible for unmarried women to propose marriage to men and, more importantly, it was not permissible for those men to refuse. There may or may not have been a law promulgated in 1288 by five-year-old Queen Margaret of Scotland — as an aside, historical facts like this one is the main reason I gave up writing fiction — assessing fines against men who refused marriage proposals.
2016 being a leap year, I think it only fair the burden of wooing be shifted this year and the women of Whistler step up. C'mon, ladies; I know you've got it in you. For those of you who are, in fact single women of Whistler — Motto: The odds are good... but the goods are odd — be bold. I know it's hard to believe, but men like flowers too. They like beer more but they'll be so shocked to get flowers they might overlook the fact you forgot to bring beer.
And for those of you blissfully, or otherwise, coupled, surprise your man. Remove his burden. Tell him you've got Valentine's Day covered this year and he's in for the surprise of his life. If nothing else, it'll scare the bejesus out of him and he'll pay off like a broken slot machine.
I wish I knew.
Happy Valentine's Day. Guys, take five.