Mordini: Taking heart on Valentine’s Day

Jessie Markovetz

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. No other invention, not even the pet rock, has matched this holiday in terms of its pointlessness and profitability. Year after year, usually starting the day after Christmas, card stor-es such as Hallmark Gold Crown are festooned with signs, balloons, displays, weapons of mass destruction, etc. in red and white to celebrate the beginning of the mating season of birds.

I’m serious. According to (and if you can’t trust a place like Shagtown, what can you trust?) the holiday, among several pagan connotations, was at one point a European celebration of the magical day each year when common pigeons got together in Nature’s plan to continue bombarding statues and cars in urbanized areas with excrement.

I know what you’re thinking: At least it’s a European holiday. I mean, France, which many experts believe to be a part of Europe, celebrates Bastille Day, which is celebrated in honor of Louis Bastille, a French nobleman whom history tells us was the high jump champion in the 1896 Olympics. So at least if we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we can write it off as a way to observe the culture of a continent that, for some reason, does not include the connected land mass of Asia. (Actually, this is probably also France’s doing.)

But still, over in the States, we are stuck with the problem of having this ultimate Hallmark holiday strain budgets and relationships. However great the single guy thinks life is, just ask him on Feb. 14. He’ll tell you right away: Life is even better than great, because he doesn’t have to sweat a card, gifts, expensive restaurants and so forth. He can cuddle up with his wallet, a cold beer and the complete collection of “Family Guy” DVDs and call it a night.

But on other days of the year, I’m sure the single guy really does feel that he is missing out. One recent idea that comes to mind is this past Sunday when, while driving home from the mall, my accelerator dropped out of position and turned my car from a tired, decrepit piece of metal into a tired, decrepit piece of metal that would no longer move.

In retrospect, I can now see that the action I took next was somewhat foolish: I got out of the car, doused it in gasoline and set it on fire.

No, that’s not what happened, although it would have been smarter than what I actually did: I called AAA to ask for a tow.

Now, being that I am an objective journalist, I have certain ethical codes I must live up to in expressing my disappointment with the automobile association. For instance, it would be wholly irresponsible of me to announce, in print, that the higher-ups at AAA routinely engage in heart-warming activities such as drowning newborn puppies and stealing Social Security checks from the mailboxes of senior citizens.

So there is very little I can actually say about the people at AAA, except that I waited for nine and a half hours for a truck to arrive. I spent approximately two of those hours on hold while making almost a dozen phone calls to them.

The point in writing all of this, which I must get to, as I have used up almost 15 inches already, is that for most of this adventure I was not alone. About an hour or so after I broke down, my girlfriend showed up with warm soup to keep me company while I came up with lyrics to a song, or possibly advertising campaign, about AAA that is so offensive that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to prohibit it.

After she wasted the better part of her Sunday sitting in a car instead of studying for her upcoming Series 7 test, she drove around to try to find a garage that was still open, then, when that failed and I was told to leave my car because AAA would call when the truck was heading to my car, she drove me back to her apartment and made me dinner, then back to campus to pick up books, then frantically back to the car where a truck was waiting and finally back to Villanova.

In short, she showed me the kind of everyday devotion that a relationship is supposed to be about, instead of some prosaic pink nothing wrapped in plastic and presented on the 14th. To say I am grateful is an enormous understatement.

I’m sorry. This was originally going to be a really funny column about what happens while you wait for a tow truck for almost 10 hours in the cold and, after doing so, how hard it is to get the keys to your car off of the ring, because your fingers have gone as numb as your patience for the incompetent band of half-wits that comprise AAA, among other things. I promise next time I’ll put down the sap and go back to the usual brand of irresponsible humor that makes me so many enemies, especially with Philadelphians. But until then, thanks for everything, Elizabeth. I love you.