Last week’s topic, “Insults,” sparked some great comments, not the least of which was someone who wrote me, “Imagine the candidate who would heap a little praise on their opponent rather than constantly malign them.” In politics? Right. But, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, the topic of flattery does come to mind. Insults don’t usually have much sticking power, but flattery, admiration, and displays of devotion do. And how nice is it that we show our adoration and love through offering gifts, and Valentine’s cards, and flowers, and romantic dates? Those are the gestures that make a permanent mark in our minds and hearts.
Some people think Valentine’s Day is too contrived. They think the marketing geniuses have created an artificial, mid-February frenzy – one with which to trap desperate, lovelorn suckers so that they can take advantage of them in the sake of making an extra buck. Some people think that stores pack the shelves with candies and red balloons, and that restaurants offer special menus, and that flower stores overflow with red roses and stuffed Teddy Bears not to give people access to what they want but to create want in people whose wallets they are trying to access. They think that radio and television commercials plant seeds of doubt that we’re not doing enough to show our loved ones we truly love them, they think we are tricked into taking one more trip to the lingerie store, buying one more wearable blanket, and obtaining more naming-of-a-star certificate so that we can then truly show our love in the perfect way. Some people think flattery mixed with February 14th is fraudulent; an emotional shakedown. Well, some people would be right, if that’s what they choose to believe. Cynicism’s great uncle is truth, and he’s usually whispering a little at things like this.
Me though, I don’t believe it’s a fraud; I don’t feel like Valentine’s Day is a graft. Bring on the hype, bring on the cards, and bring on the candies and diamonds and champagne, if those are your pleasures. Shouldn’t we all spend less time delivering insults and more time showering those around us with respect, devotion, and love?
I’m not sending Bernie, Hillary, or Donald any Valentine’s notes, but I hope someone does.
Here’s a few movie quotes on the topic of flattery:
“You’re why cavemen chiseled on walls.” Greg Kinnear in As Good as it Gets
“I’m enchanted to be the me I see in your eyes.” Julie Andrews in 10
“You’re very generous, you’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow, you look like an angel.” Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally