Today is St. Valentine’s Day. A commercial celebration of a person who apparently was murdered under Roman governmental decree. Also a person who is said to have cured blindness and deafness by the laying on of hands. His murder is reportedly to have been because he advocated one religion when the government of the time wished the population to participate in a different one.
I have very sensibly purchased a card full of saccharine and a gift full of sugar. I shall give it to someone, who will not, I presume, murder me. It was not a cheap card but you have to be sure with these things. I am still allowed to treat with deity on my own terms, but dealing with the loved one requires a little more circumspection. Heaven can only throw thunderbolts during storms but the wife can do it no matter what the weather.
If this sounds cynical, it is. But it does lead to a number of questions for the student of superstitions. Is St. Valentine’s Day valid for people who are not of his religion? There are lots of us in lots of different divisions of faith…but we all have sweethearts – if we’re lucky – and the commercial pressure is on to promote romance, flowers, jewellery, and confectionery. I don’t think the sellers of canned lovey dovey will check to see if you are the right sort to follow a saint.
I don’t mind romance, love, sex, or anything else that fills up the hours between breakfast and late-night cocoa. I’m up for anything as long as it doesn’t involve teenage music or strobe lights in the eyes. A quiet exchange of expensive cards is fine.
Readers of this weblog column who saw the previous four parts probably thought of me as a curmudgeon. They are entirely correct, and I hope it will continue for many years to come.
But it might be a bit daunting to them to think of armies of retirees being the same way – all of us approaching them in government and commerce and creating friction. So I want to give some hints on how to deal with us as we deal with you:
a. We move slower, talk slower, and think slower than we did before. This does not mean that we do not move, talk, or think – it is just a matter of the amount of time it takes. Be warned…we have that time, and will take it. If you try to hurry us on with snippy comments and eye rolling we regard it as an invitation to deliver a scolding, and we have all the time in the world to do THAT. We may not be your mother or father but we can jolly well sound like it at a moment’s notice.
b. We are real. We were real when we were your age and when we were your age, you weren’t.
We made the building you are standing in and the clothing you’re wearing. You got to work burning the petrol we drilled for, in the car we designed.
We know as many things as you do, even if it may not include how to run the mobile phone apps. We can feed, clothe, house, cure, and defend ourselves – we’ve done it before and we can again. And without googling up how to do it.
c. We want to be friendly. Really we do. We know that the complexities of the world are tough and that we need friends to help us get through them. If all we get from you are more complexities – forms, apps, instructions, criticism, and obstruction – we know you are not a friend. Then we switch to Mode 2…
d. We sometimes need reassurance. Provide it, and you will have our attention and our loyalty.
e. We sometimes need help. We haven’t understood the governmental form or computer instructions as well as you have. Take the time to help us and type things out for us. Make the screen go the way it was before. We will bless you.
f. We have money to spend. You might not think it from the way we dress, but remember that we don’t care about the fashions – and the money we’ve saved by wearing that old sweater can be spent on something else in your store. You never can tell when we will come out with the credit card and make your entire sales week…
g. We remember when whatever is being retro-revived was new. That’s a two-edged sword – we might wax nostalgic and buy every one in the shop or we might guffaw and toss it back on the counter.
h. We know the words. The dirty words. We’ve heard them before.
We remember having our mouths washed out with laundry soap for saying them at the dinner table. If you say them over the counter to us you will lose a sale and gain an enemy.
Never mind that it is not a criminal offence to use them, and that they have become the common currency of language in the 20-something generation. Never mind that sailors use that sort of language. Unless you are the gunnery officer of the USS MARYLAND under fire…don’t use those words.
Oh, and if you plan to use the words in a designer fashion to shock and awe the old fogies remember that the old fogies know the designer words: ” Get the manager. Now. ”