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Love on the Cheap

By Richard von Busack

WANT SOME poetry for Valentine's Day? Try this on for size:

Stern daughter of the voice of God!
O Duty! If that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring and reprove.

That's good Wordsworth, that is. And done with a felt-tipped pen on red construction paper with a doily pasted behind it, "Ode to Duty" sums up the plight of the already-settled-down on Feb. 14.

We went to great time and expense and personal discipline to find someone. This triumph occurred after numberless false starts and false lovers. Finally, we're both hitched up as patiently as a pair of oxen who, after years of strife, learned the simple wisdom of pulling in the same direction.

Every day, some single or divorced friend reminds us of how lonely it is out there. With that in mind, do your best to show courtesy and kindness to your significant other—this despite their stubbornness and incorrigibility. The rap sheet probably includes such domestic abuse as blanket theft and wanton misplacing of the television remote.

People who've been through the works hardly need a reminder every Feb. 14. To us, it's just like the rent coming around again. So here are some budget-conscious tips on how to allow the laid-off and the unemployed to celebrate the most calculatedly romantic of nonholidays.

  • The valley's lemon trees are currently fruiting. Nothing says "I Love You" like a basket of fresh-picked lemons from someone else's yard (watch for Dobermans, who are even faster and angrier than they look). The note accompanying this gift should read something like, "Just as these lemons are so sour, your love is just so sweet." "You are the sugar in life's lemonade." Words to that effect. "I promise you you'll never get scurvy as long as I'm around."
  • Discount-food warehouses valleywide have very popularly priced restaurant-size cans of fruit cocktail. Imagine his or her delight when receiving a beribboned 5-gallon can with the happy note "We'd make a peach of a pear!"
  • Nothing says romance more than abundance. Seated at the Emperor's Scepter All-U-Can-Eat $7.95 buffet, hold his/her hand and remind him/her: "Just as the Mongolian Chicken here will never run out, neither will my love for you."
  • Modesto's own Ficklin Port (around $15 a bottle) is a fine rubicund shade of Valentine's red and a superior lifter of February gloom.
  • For bigger spenders than I know personally, how about a gift copy of Locas (Fantagraphics, $49.95), the collected adventures of that star-crossed couple Margarita Chascarilla and Esperanza Glass, better known as Maggie and Hopey. In one telephone-book-size volume, Jaime Hernandez's wandering 15-year-long Love and Rockets serial obtains a scope that's even more impressive than when these black-and-white comics first appeared.
  • In Hernandez hilario-tragic picaresque, the girls pursue various occupations—kept women, auto mechanics, rock-stars and assistants to masked wrestlers. These two are bad for each other, but they're worse for everybody else, which is a simple definition of how couples last.

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    From the February 9-15, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

    Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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