Despite the fact that Valentine’s Day is banned in every Muslim country, all 47,061 states in America, and the Vatican, this cherished holiday has always been celebrated in the little village where I grew up. Early in February, young women would carefully leaf through the Yellow Pages, weeding out foreign-sounding surnames or ones that would cause mild embarrassment when printed upon a wedding invitation (such as Flush, St. John-Mucus, or Smith). The line of young ladies queueing for the village’s only phone at the only hardware store always created a traffic hazard for the farmers coming in to pick up cattle feed. The smartest of the boys would hitch a ride with their fathers, jump out of the pickup bed, and walk up and down the line of waiting girls, trying their sales pitches like teenage encyclopedia salesmen. The end result of all this phone-queueing and lolly-gagging was a barn dance which, as an annual tradition, always ended with the barn catching on fire and several unfortunate lawsuits. That, of course, is the most boring part of this story.
Mother has been inconsolable since the hosting changes for the Great British Bake-Off, and threatened to call the state troopers unless I inserted her favorite grande dame, Mary Berry, into this post. Happy Valentine’s Day!