All language is metaphorical, and the language of love is no exception.
Red and pink, especially in February, make most of us think of love. Those two colors dominate Valentine’s Day cards, candy boxes and other items designed to separate us from our money. But why?
Red is the color of the heart, I suppose, and the heart is the organ most closely associated with love. Well, it’s the organ most closely associated with love that can be named in a family newspaper, anyway.
But red is also the color of blood, and blood isn’t all that romantic unless you have a vampire fetish. Which is far more common than you might think, if the Internet is to believed. (And who doesn’t believe the Internet?)
But, Chris, you say, red is also the color of roses, and what is more romantic — or expensive — than a dozen of those crimson beauties, their petals open like an inviting pair of ruby lips?
This brings me to my point. Well, to one of my points, anyway. What is so inherently romantic about a rose? Who was it who decided that this particular flower was joined so intimately with our belief in love?
Scottish poet Robert Burns — “Bobby” to his friends — famously wrote, “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June,” but the rose/love connection goes back much farther than the 18th century. It stretches all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who equated the flower with the goddess of love.
But roses have thorns, and thorns cut and scratch and poke. Roses also die. Now, depending on your significant other, maybe your love cuts and scratches and pokes, too. And if your relationships aren’t all that stable (or if they cut and scratch and poke too much), some of them likely die. Not literally, of course, unless you’re a graduate of the Hannibal Lecter School of Lovemaking.
Still, a beautiful, sharp object with a limited shelf life doesn’t sound all that romantic to me, so I’m introducing a new metaphor for love.
From now on, my love is like a mossy rock.
Think about it. A rock is strong and stable. Rocks are found in all climates and cultures; so, like love, they’re universal.
Moss is a living thing, far more hardy than a rose, so it better represents a stable relationship. It is green, representing life. Moss also grows on a rock, the way two partners grow on one another. After all, the nail biting or nose picking that seems so weird in the early days of a relationship becomes rather endearing in later years.
So this year, I’m bypassing the expensive roses and candies and cards to give my wife a gift straight from the heart — a new metaphor for love created especially for her. That’s right, she’s getting a mossy rock.
If you want to beat my time and give a similar gift, borrowing my explanation the way Christian stole the words of Cyrano de Bergerac to woo the beautiful Roxane, go ahead. You’d be smart to do it this year, though. By next Valentine’s Day, I expect the cost of rocks and moss to triple because of the demand. I’m nothing if not a believer in capitalism.
However, in these early days of the rose/rock transition, don’t be surprised if your special someone is less than thrilled to receive a stone in lieu of flowers. It took millennia for the rose to win its place in our hearts, so I expect it might take, oh, two or three years for my more-fitting metaphor to replace it.
In the meantime, though, expect that your love might take your gift of a rock for granite … er, granted.
Ouch. Love hurts.
cschillig on Twitter