Valentines Day is about love, but what does that mean? What does any of this mean? This week, the Herald staff tried to figure it out 200 words at a time. From the absurd to the earnest to visual, the blurbs below are a quilt — wrap yourself in it, and don't forget to enjoy!
Elliot Lewis, BR ’22, Features
I had my first date at a strip club. I stole my parents’ car after they had gone to bed, picked up my date, and we drove to a strip club. We stopped at a Walgreens on the way to buy hairspray and a lighter, just in case anything went down. The whole thing was her idea. I feel this is important to mention. I don’t want to give the impression that high school me spent his weekends at a strip club. She had been several times and asked me to come along. I uncomfortably agreed. It was a date.
We arrived at the club. I like calling it “the club.” It makes the whole thing feel more glamorous, when in reality “the club” was filled mostly with old, sad-looking men trying to hide their erections. There were several other couples there, I was surprised to discover, holding hands and watching and giggling. Whether they giggled at the strippers, the sad old men, or me in my little pleated sweater, I could not tell. We sat down at the foot of the stage, despite my begging to choose one of the booths. I didn’t like the closeness, the women making eye contact with me and the basslines of the Jessie J songs echoing in my chest. I tried to make eye contact with my date, but she was engrossed in the action, whooping at every discarded clothing item.
There was a two-drink minimum: I ordered two Pepsis (note: the strip club did not serve Coke) for $6 each, the drinks arriving watered-down and mostly ice. I was disappointed. I scraped the bottom of my wallet for ones and handed them to my date, watching as she slid the bill across the stage to the naked dancer. The dancer moved toward us, placed a finger on my glasses, and then moved on. Needless to say, in what was already quite a stressful experience for me, I was tense. But we had a lovely time, the two of us there, sitting silently as women undressed in front of us. Not every date requires chocolate or flowers. Sometimes, it’s enough just to buy each other a lap dance.
Farid Djamalov, PC ’21, Arts
Two clocks tick in synchrony, side-by-side, on a wall at MoMA. The wall label reads “Untitled, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, 1991.” Without a description, the conceptual artwork eludes many. Torres created this work at the peak of the AIDS epidemic when his partner, Ross Laycock, was diagnosed with the disease. While the clocks tick like the heartbeats, with time, they fall out of synch until the battery in one of them dies. Laycock died in 1991. Torres died in 1996; his battery lasted just a little bit longer. At the BMFA, a 2490 BC sculpture of Mycerinus and his wife seems worlds apart, but just like the first piece, it captures the ideas of love’s reproducibility, temporality, and eternity. Encounters with poignant artworks like these make elusive concepts like love palpable. Whether you will spend this Valentine’s Day with a lover, a brother, a pet, or your problem set, plan a sexy date for yourself to go to a museum and have an intimate encounter with art à la Andrea Fraser style (reference: “Little Frank and his Carp,” 2001).
Krish Maypole, GH ’21, Sci+Tech
I got an elbow to the head for Valentine’s Day this year—yes, a concussion. I saw stars in the seconds right after I received that fateful bonk to the noggin. Since seeing the stars, I’ve spent a lot of time in the dark, but love has brightened my days. It starts with the friend who spent three hours with me at Yale Health: he who has a broken wrist of his own, who gave me a much-needed burst of energy in the form of a Gheav sandwich, who put his homework aside to keep me company while the nurses asked me if my head was hurting (it was). The rest of the love I’ve seen has been pretty subtle, but I’ve thought a lot recently about how love makes up the foundation of the spaces and communities I occupy at Yale. And maybe it’s just human decency to check on the guy who’s concussed, but I think it hints at a larger lesson: platonic love is both beautiful and necessary for life here and beyond.
Eric Krebs, JE ’21, Editor-in-Chief
Lou Reed believed that to love is to see. I fell in love with Reed in college because he lived what he sang about: drug addiction, free love, hopeless love, body dysmorphia, botched medical operations, being a sad sap washed-up rockstar living in his parents’ basement at 28 years old.
I fell in love with Reed not for his overarching theory of the universe with which I could align my life—I’m not sure he had one—nor his untouchable coolness or virtuosity, but for the feeling that, should I have known him, he might have found me a worthy subject for a song (or at least a verse). I, for the first time, felt that I was something worth writing about, something worth reflecting—neuroticism and squareness included. Reed’s music declares that we’re all worth a song. All of us.
Reed’s most forthright love song, “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” is the thesis statement of this vision of reflection as the ultimate form of love. “I’ll be your mirror / reflect what you are / in case you don’t know.” Why hyperbolize, why fabricate—as an artist, as a man, as a human—when you can just reflect? The real thing’s enough.
Kapp Singer, GH ’22, Design
Kyle Mazer, DC ’22, Inserts
Love is the stupidest, most beautiful thing. For me, I’ll know I’m in love the day I can scoop two fingers into a bowl of guacamole and feel no shame, because the person sitting across from me just wants to do it too and will, knowing we’ll both just laugh about it after. The fact that we’ll give up most anything, and spend our whole lives searching for nothing more than that, nothing more than chipless dips and laughs and for feeling like as long as you’re together the whole rest of the world could disintegrate, well that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, if I’m alone, I can eat the entire bowl of guacamole without a single chip and no one can say anything about it. If the world disintegrates, there’ll be no more guacamole. I can’t defend love, no one really can. I guess that’s what makes it beautiful, no?
Hamzah Jhaveri, TC ’22, Managing Editor
Earlier last week, I ordered a pair of pants on ASOS. They aren’t just any pants. No, these are sexy, vinyl, faux crocodile skin, black pants with inverse neon green stitching at the seams and around the pockets. They were certainly an impulse purchase, and I’ll probably return them once I try them on (knowing how most clothes I buy online end up disappointing my figure). But for now, I’m in love. As I await their delivery to my roommate’s P.O. box, I can’t seem to stop dreaming about them. To me, these perfect pants feel like a lover in a distant town, somebody I only know through correspondences. (The analogy holds if you swap love letters for FedEx’s automated delivery notifications). The pants arrive on Valentine’s Day, and I’ll pick them up first thing, as if they were that lover, finally arriving at the train station for a long-overdue weekend.
This seems petty, yes. Shallow, certainly. Materialistic, of course! But how is my commercial love of things, of fashion, of myself wearing things, feeling fashionable and sexy, any different from the money spent by couples on candle-lit dinners, shiny jewelry, chocolate boxes, and flowers? To me, it’s all consumption. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a shameful thing. After all, our conceptions of love, even self-love, are shaped by the inescapable forces of capitalism. We are consumers of emotions, even love, as much as we are consumers of sexy pants. And, to be clear, I don’t make purchases like these often. But for a special occasion, one that often has me feeling down or frustrated, I’ll allow myself to invest in the petty consumerism of our international day of love (and lust) and remind myself that it’s really only me I need to love (and feel sexy for).
McKinsey Crozier, TD ’22, Culture
I made eleven valentines for one person. I printed exactly eleven pieces of paper, cut out eleven hearts, drew eleven chonky cats, and wrote eleven suggestive feline captions. I’m really feline you tonight. I’d say I don’t want you to be my Valentine, but I’d be lion. Of all types of OCD, I’m grateful to have the one that’s most romantic, the one that compels me to make someone eleven goddamn valentines, glitter and all. The number eleven ticks through my brain like a clock never reaching its destination, prime number becoming prime problem becoming prime Valentine material.
I imagine that the rhythm of eleven is everywhere, that we are all on eleven-eighths time, counting sidewalk cracks in multiples of eleven and kissing eleven times before we say goodbye. It makes sense: more is clearly more, eleven is more than one, and thus eleven, eleven, eleven is closer to perfection than one, one, one. They say that this is a disability—me and my elevens—but I would be overjoyed to receive eleven valentines with eleven hearts, eleven cats, and eleven captions. And somehow, that feels a little bit like love.
Adhya Beesam, MY ’22, Reviews
To me, love is like the McDonald’s Playplace: it’s easy to get in but impossible to get out. I’m someone who falls in love like how you fall asleep (slowly then all at once blah blah blah) and falls out of love like how you’d claw your way out of a coma. I catch feelings as easily as a 4th grader catches lice, but if lice were more terrifying and permanent. It’s bizarre: I could fall in love with the way that someone twirls a pencil between their fingers and can recall a beautiful laugh long after I forget what was funny in the first place. To others, love is something beautiful, rare, and fragile; to me, it’s picked up constantly and at the most random times. It sounds like a disease, and it truly is. However, it’s a disease that masks itself in the bubbly feeling of butterflies, the lingering afterglow of a 3 hour FaceTime, and the stumbling stutters following a well-timed wink. It’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s ultimately fatal.
Caramia Putman BF ’22, Culture
Birds freckle beautiful sky—which is to say all the sky. One night a bird flew into my room. I only caught glimpses of a pulsing shadow. I keep wishing for it to happen again. I wonder how many birds have passed while I was sleeping. I wonder if things that feel new to me were always around.
I’m happy as pimples sprout in the night. Freckles too raise on beautiful days—which is to say nearly every day. Strips of sock tans and dead skin on bare feet. I forgot how good summer could feel.
Sometimes this all seems unreal. Sun and birds and shadows and my own body. Sometimes I am convinced, sometimes I am afraid, sometimes I am comforted by the idea that these changes are really nothing at all.
Isaac Pross BK ’23, Reviews
Back on the road again, feeling kinda lonely
And looking for the right guy who’d be mine
Friends say I’m crazy ’cause easily I fall in love
“You gotta do it different J, this time”
Maybe we’ll meet at a bar
He’ll drive a funky car
Maybe we’ll meet at a club
And fall so deeply in love
He’ll tell me I’m the one
And we’ll have so much fun
I’ll be the girl of his dreams maybe
Alright, maybe gonna find him today
I gotta get someone to call my lover
Yeah, baby, come on
Alright, baby, come and pass my way
I gotta get someone to call my lover
Yeah, baby, come on
(From Janet Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover”)
Edie Abraham-Macht, BR ’22, Voices
In first grade, I wrote a poem called “Love”: “You can’t always see it, but you always know it’s really there.” This was probably an attempt at self-reassurance: for much of my childhood, I worried that the love I was given could be taken away from me at any moment. This worry has grown with me but never disappeared, and I’ve spent my life trying to figure out where it came from and what to do about it. It’s tiring, and frustrating, and colors my relationships with a neediness, an automatic doubt, that sometimes makes me wish I could be anyone but myself. I recently came across a—somewhat sadistic—slogan on a notebook cover: “Anxiety is the enemy of love.” It made me cry. I’ve craved love all my life, and now that I have it, I’m even more terrified anxiety will swoop in to fuck it up. But I’m trying, as my dad advised, to “cut myself some slack.” My anxiety means that I’m a lot to handle, that I’m not nearly as secure as I want to be in the relationships that mean the most. But I’m honest, and I’m working on it, and I do my best to make sure that the people I love know I really mean it. “Love is attention”—another cheesy notebook slogan, sure, but one that helps me move forward instead of always glancing back.
Xavier Ruiz, TD ’21, Design
Rachel Calcott, BR ’22, Managing Editor
Love is defunct. Before you write me off as a mascara-stained Bridget Jones-style Valentines hater, or assume that I must be one of the unfortunate few who have never really felt “it,” don’t worry—I’m not here to rail against the head-over-heels emotion. I’m interested in something much sexier… semantics.
I’m an “I love you” slut. I love clam chowder, thick socks, and the smell of laundry detergent. And the fact that I use the same word to describe my feelings about Tide Pods as I do about the most important people in my life strikes me as a little iffy. In Japanese, there are three different words for ‘love’, each with a different connotation. So wtf Merriam-Webster, it’s time English gave me a chance to differentiate between my feelings for New England’s favorite seafood broth and my eternal soul mate.
But maybe the ambiguity of “love” is a shield we put up against the absolutism of the romcom marriage-inducing declaration: I love you. Because the thing that we mean when we say ‘love’ can be as ambiguous as our feelings often are. Maybe by keeping ‘love’ on a sliding scale from detergent to friendship to intimacy, we sacrifice specificity to protect the thing many of us (actually) love the most—independence.
Kat Corfman, JE ’21, Editor-in-Chief
Thank you for the book,
I would have read it on the plane
but it was cold and I had
hands to sit on. I sleep
even less on planes than I do
at my family’s house.
Have I ever told you about
the way the numbness starts
in my hips and crawls down my thighs
like paralysis? This plane is full
of young people with small children
and old people with small dogs. We are
on our way to New York, but who knows where
we will each end up. My money is on
the grave. The pilot
gives his spiel, says Better go ahead
and pick your favorite child! and thanks us
for pretending to pay attention
to the attendant who is smiling and swinging
an oxygen mask by its orange spiral cord.
An hour in, my neighbor puts away
his laptop and begins to read
the safety pamphlet and for a second
I forget that my knees will feel like
medieval morning stars
when we land. When I’m in a Lyft and anxious
I can look out the window and talk
to myself like a mother
to a toddler: See here, now,
wasn’t that fun? Did you see that man
on his bike eating ice cream?
A different voice, like a kiss
on the temple: Remember
the valleys of dunes like dimples
in the sand, teaching you
which cheek to kiss and when, how
to ask my grandmother for more
holding hands and looking down until both
my legs lost feeling too? Lie
awake, cool your head
against the dark window. We are not passing
through, merely over.
Macrina Wang, ES ’22, Features
If you’re not Stephen Colbert and his wife, Evelyn, I don’t want to see you make out in public. Yeah, I’m talking to you, leathery couple in Haas making soupy noises! Stop it. And stop making intermittent eye contact with me—still not into it. Now, why do Stephen and Evelyn get a free pass? you whine. Have you seen that segment, on The Late Show, where he talked about the first time he saw her? How he felt? How—27 years later—he continues to feel?