Romance And Love? Not The Same Thing Valentine's Day can be a polarizing experience. Some people find it charming; others see it as a superficial and commercial way to celebrate one of the most profound emotions people experience. The irony of this is not wasted on commentator Laura Lorson, who finds the holiday a lesson in contradictions.
NPR logo Romance And Love? Not The Same Thing

Romance And Love? Not The Same Thing

Laura Lorson is the local All Things Considered host for Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence. KPR/University of Kansas hide caption

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KPR/University of Kansas

Laura is very impressed with Peg Sampson's exceedingly comprehensive collection of saltboxes. Janet Campbell hide caption

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Janet Campbell

Lorson's other other half, who will assuredly never bring her flowers or candy. Kelly Corcoran hide caption

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Kelly Corcoran

Love may be patient and love may be kind, but really, love's not at its best in the middle of February. February is kind of the dark night of the soul of cohabitational relationships. February is when even Tristan and Isolde are getting on each other's nerves. Isolde finds herself saying things like, "I really wish you wouldn't leave your snowy, salty boots to drip melt water all over our living room carpet," and Tristan fires back with, "Wow, you really sound like your mother when you get angry." And then someone ends up sleeping on the couch with the dogs — hypothetically speaking, of course.

I have never really gotten the concept behind Valentine's Day. It's the holiday that tries way too hard. I don't know, maybe it's because I have never been the recipient of grand romantic gestures, but it strikes me as the kind of holiday that people really don't know what to do with, so they take their cues from movies and music videos, and even the most sincere gestures end up looking choreographed and staged.

If I walked into my house and the whole place was full of lit candles, I wouldn't be charmed. I'd assume I'd walked into the wrong house, or that some Wiccans had done a little breaking and entering. If I came in and there were rose petals all over the floor? I'd probably take off my coat, swearing, and go get the vacuum cleaner. If my husband walked up to present me with champagne and strawberries, I would probably either start laughing or feel his forehead for a fever. I am what you'd call "a tough crowd."

In my world, romance and love are very different things. If love is a diamond, romance is rhinestones. Love abides; romance is a squatter on the run from a collection agency. Romance likes that it has a holiday where it's the center of attention. Love isn't all that interested; love's got bigger fish to fry. Romance will ply you with whispers and compliments; love is busy fixing your leaky roof and taking out the trash. I'm all in favor of a holiday celebrating real love, but there aren't really a lot of options for marketing that, so it's not going to happen.

I guess they could sell cards that say things like, "Thank you for wiping out the sink after you shave." Teddy bears wearing T-shirts that say, "Thank you for not passive-aggressively bringing up all that money I lost at poker last Friday night when you wanted me to go with you to visit your mother, and I pretended I was sick and you went along with it and even brought me orange juice even though you knew I was faking?" Now that's a holiday I'd actually celebrate, not just endure.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Occasionally, it brings chocolates, usually at inopportune times. Love always perseveres, even through the cold and dark of February, when romance has high-tailed it to the Bahamas for dancing and pina coladas on the beach. Love never takes a holiday — even when it's being offered one, like Valentine's Day.

Laura Lorson really hopes that her husband wasn't planning some big Valentine's Day celebration for her at their home in Perry, Kan.