Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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February 14, 2000

Picture: Oh La La! By the time one's readers read these words (and one has it upon the most foolproof of authorities that one's readers are so myriad in number that were each a leaf of a tree, the entire population of China could indulge in the innocent sport of leaf-pile diving, come autumn), they will have spent the day indulging in the sort of excess that could only accompany a holiday ushered in by the commercial conglomerates. Yes, those disgusting manufacturers who earn their filthy lucre by producing such botched products as the 'greeting card,' the chocolate 'sampler,' and those cloyingly sweet heart-shaped miniature sugar candies imprinted with such clever sayings as 'Hot Stuff' and 'Foxy Lady.'

Yes, one is referring to Valentine's Day.

In one's day, the feast of Saint Valentine was a serious business. If one had a sweetheart, one wrote her a sonnet. One enclosed a pressed flower, and bashfully presented it to her with trembling hands. The couple would then exchange loving, inarticulate glances as they sat in opposite corners of the parlour belonging to the young woman's parents. Oh, what a fine time that was, for Romance.

Of course, these days, youth are encouraged to toss cheap scraps of paper printed with cartoon characters and the insincere command of 'Be My Valentine!' at each other as they meet at the chip shop or the local 'Taco Bell.' Children are forced by their parents to present greeting cards not only to every other grubby little urchin in their third-form classes, but to their teachers as well. Fathers present daughters with Valentine's candy, and men present heart-shaped messages of undying true love to their mothers.

Which prospect, of course, must delight a certain Mr Oedipus.

Surely our Lord did not mean by the words, "Love thy neighbour as thyself," that the apostles were to run out once a year and purchase a mylar balloon blazoned with a fuzzy 'teddy bear' dressed in dungarees averring, "I wuv oo." Surely Abelard, wooing Heloise, did not speak of the spiritual qualities of love so that many centuries later hapless thousands of Woolworth shoppers could buy their sweethearts Eau de Loo and a glib, mass-printed billet doux of 'Garfield' uttering a phrase that begins, "Valentine's Day is like going to the litter box. . . ."

But unfortunately, those who fancy cheap sentiment and easy amorism hold sway in our global society, and daily do they debase the very nature of love, which by its own nature is delicate and gentle, giving and forgiving.

And what does Sir Charles Grandiose do, for his Valentine's Day holiday? A glass of wine, readers. A thorough perusal of the Holy Book (specifically, the Song of Solomon). And then, when the blood is quickened, a gentle caress. A cheeky pinch. Then, a naughty finger wagging 'no-no!' A stolen kiss. Another caress. And then one arises from one's bed, joins the Lady Felicia and young Penelope Windsor-Smythe in the breakfast room, and one goes about one's day.

Still suspicious about anyone who judges a greeting card by its publisher, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Alfred writes:

Picture: Oo, Mr WhippleDear Sir Charles,

I realize that you're probably not the kind of person to be asking about this sort of thing, considering your views on your sister-in-law's use of the Swami Ralph. But this is more of a love question, not about psychics.

I'm in love with this girl who channels the spirits of Native American Crones. That is, she goes into a trance and these words of wisdom just come pouring out. I've seen her do it! In person, twice, at Navajo rug/Tupperware parties.

Unfortunately I don't think she knows I'm alive. And I'm worried about all those Navajo crones. Would they be watching if we . . . you know. Kissed? How should I let her know I'm romantically interested? Please, please, I need your help before Valentine's Day. Should I try to hug her and whisper words of love in her ear?

Alfred Whipple,
Bethesda, Maryland

Sir Charles replies:

Mr Whipple,

For all our collective sakes: Please don't squeeze the shaman.

Sincerely, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Maria writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I know this year my boyfriend isn't going to give me anything for valentine's day. should I just get him a card, or just not worry about it.   



Sir Charles replies:

Dear Maria,

A white canvas painted with white paint, mounted on a white wall in a white building along a white street covered with white snow interests me more than does your question, even if the canvas in question had been painted by a Mister White LeBlanc.

Why not just do what your sort do every year, and give the fellow a dose of the social disease du jour?

Moving on, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Ophelia writes:

Picture: Hello, Operator? Get Me Number Nine.Dear Lady Felicia,

I am experiencing difficulties that pertain to romantic matters. My lover treats me with the utmost decorum and respect when him and I are together. He had to venture back to California for business. Whenever he telephones me, my lover has the manners of a gutter snipe. Him and I had terrible rows over this problem. What is the meaning of all this stuff and nonsense?

Yours Truly,

The Lady Felicia replies:

Perhaps, though one is loath to suggest such a thing, one's correspondent's gentleman friend is merely chafing at the grammatical dearth displayed by his lady. 'Him and I'? Gracious.

One suggests an immediate enrollment in a course designed for remedial grammar skills. While this may not mend the rend, as it were, it will at least put one's own mind at ease.

Lady Felicia

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