Saturday, February 10, 2007

Be Mine. You too!

Published February 10, 2007

St. George Spectrum & Daily News

In case you've forgotten...or you live in a cave...or you enjoy life without access to cable TV...Valentine's Day is this Wednesday. If any of the previous conditions apply, you might want to get your forgetful, cable-less self out of the cave and get to the store to buy some candy before all that's left are those weird candy "conversation" hearts.

I've never been a very big fan of the conversation heart. It's traditional, sure, but it's chalky and small and completely devoid of chocolate. I think they're fairly cute, but when it comes to eating them, I just don't see the attraction.

You know, I'm not sure I really understand the purpose of the Valentine conversation heart, either. I've always assumed that from the time they were created, back in 1866, they were meant to be given as a pledge of love from one person to another. Indeed, the original conversation candies had the phrases, "Be mine," "Be True," and "Kiss Me," which are still in use today.

Here's where I get lost. People don't just give these hearts to their true loves. People give these things to every Joe Schmo on the street! They pass them out like, well, candy! After a while, I figure people just stop reading them. Certainly, the 8th time you get a "Be Mine" candy heart from a mere acquaintance, it begins to lose its meaning. (Personally, I consider that particular heart carte blanche to jump into the giver's arms and scream, "I'm YOURS!")

To its credit, the company making these hearts unveils a new set of sayings every year. It keeps things fresh, I suppose. I don't know if it really helps. This year, the new phrases are "animal themed" in honor of their pairing with a Massachusetts animal rights group. That's interesting. I still don't know how I'd feel about my children getting "Puppy Love" hearts from their teachers at school.

I know Valentine's Day is the holiday for lovers, but couldn't there be a set of generic hearts for those of us not really interested in wooing anyone in particular? Seriously, folks, how many people are actually paired up on Valentine's Day? 50%? Is it even that high? Shouldn't there be a more sane option for the rest of us?

How about, "Lets Be friends" hearts, with sayings like "Be Yourself!," and "We're Platonic!" and "Things are fine just the way they are?" Or maybe they could make "We've Just Met" hearts: "Nice Shoes," "You're Not Ugly," or "Let me get that door for you, madam."

They could even make "Break-up Hearts" for that person who just can't suffer through the holiday with the one he's with. "We Need to Talk" and "It's Not You, It's Me" hearts would be all he needed to dispense with the offending significant other. Personally, I'm partial to "I Love You, But I'm Not IN Love With You," because, like every person who's ever dated, I thought I made this one up.

I wouldn't mind seeing a bag of hearts bearing completely random sayings and phrases. They already have a few hearts in the regular bag like that. Why not spread the wealth? I, for one, would love to see an "I Burped" conversation heart someday. It could be given before or after the "Excuse Me" heart. Other hearts I'd like to see: "You're Adequate," "Gone Fishing," "Blighted Area," and "There Is No Spoon."

The good news is that the company making these candies will actually create conversation hearts for anyone who has an idea for a good phrase. As long as you're willing to pay for an entire production run of candies (roughly 1 million hearts), they'll make them just for you! Not a bad idea, don't you think?

1 million "Read The Mother Load" hearts are on their way to my house as you read this.