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February 04, 2013

Who was the original Cupid? Why was he named Cupid? What is love? Baby, don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.


Valentine's Day, more commonly referred to as St. Valentine's Day by people who have no chance of celebrating it, is observed on the 14th day of February, the second month of the Gregorian calendar. The coldest, wettest, saddest, greyest, hardest-to-spell month of the year, Valentine's Day provides a 24-hour beacon of light and oddly-flavored chocolate for loving couples, a 24-hour abyss of confusion and despair for those people that aren't couples, and a 24-hour period of hasty scurrying for polygamists to organize their plans of action and remember all their partners' names. 
Valentine's Day came to be in the late 1800's when famed chubby-cheeked, golden-haired escaped mental patient James "Cupid" Valentino held up a boatload of twelve men and women at Port Ares with a bow-and-arrow. Demanding a marriage from each of them, each one denied his proposal on the grounds that he was legally insane and wore only a cloth diaper. Valentino occasionally suffered from episodes where he was under the belief he could fly, episodes that would end painfully and abruptly with him smashing skull-first into steel pillars and awakening with a renewed sense of anger and purpose. 
As the screaming Valentino was dragged away by the police officers who ignored his protest that he had never aimed to kill, and had merely laced the tip of each arrow with a mild sedative, he experienced a brief moment of clarity in which he soon realized he was never meant to love, but rather to help others find it. One of the arresting officers fell in love at first sight with one of the fedora-d men aboard the boat, and the two were secretly wed in a ceremony that would not be - strictly speaking - legal for another a hundred and twenty years. The fedora-d man found the police officer much more attractive than the diapered mental patient, and if you look at the statistics, historically more police officers have been married than asylum inmates, a romantic trend that resonates to this day. 
The nickname "Cupid" was coined in prison a week later after he began eating only raw venison, but for the rest of his life Valentino would escape each year on the 14th of February, around the time he had stolen enough wooden cutlery to construct his own bow-and-arrow. Accepting his new orientation of asexuality, he would roam the streets at dusk with his makeshift weapon, and if he saw so much as a sliver of disappointment in a man or a woman's eyes, he would bind them, gag them, find another person like them, and force them to love each other, before ceremoniously firing the arrow into the man's knee anyway, at which point he would unceremoniously be carted off to jail again for another year of depression, the sole thing keeping him going being the regularly mailed updates from happy couples he had reunited. Valentino retired from matchmaking in 1981, after hitting John Hinckley Jr. with a defective arrow, but before he could ever hear how that story turned out, Valentino died in jail from a heart attack, by then morbidly obese from the amount of venison-flavored chocolate he had eaten over the years, and functionally incoherent from all the tranquilizers that had been used on him over the years to bring him down whilst on a rampage.Such is life, life is irony, life is a circle. 
At his funeral, Valentino was canonized by his cellmate, an illiterate tattoo artist, who chiseled the "ST." onto his gravestone, under the pretense of not understanding what he was doing out of grief. Valentino lay interred under the moniker "ST. CUPID" until 2009 when the park where he lay was paved over by a Wal-Mart. 
But Valentino lives on through his work. Valentine's Day is still celebrated each year in his honor, and a website devoted to how entirely adequate or okay Cupid's life was launched in 2004. As is custom, one must gallantly endure between thirty and forty-five minutes of painfully boring conversation before you're allowed to write "Show me the goods". 
Valentine's Day is more than just a day. Not scientifically speaking, because that would be fucking ridiculous and impossible, but metaphorically, it is also a day where a lot of stuff happens, or absolutely nothing happens, depending on your situation or the circumstances of life. 
It's a day when balloons are misshapen and nobody complains. 
It's a day when the Hallmark corporation suddenly unveils hordes of stuffed versions of species never-before-seen, like a zebra that somehow has a red mane and pink stripes, or a hippopotamus that has hearts for nostrils and knows the entire Marvin Gaye discography. 
It's a day when wives around the world expect their husbands to go above and beyond in the romance department, despite the fact that not two weeks ago they almost put chickens on the endangered species list to cater their Super Bowl party, and have a complete aversion to buying or touching anything pink that doesn't have the sort-of words "PEPTO-BISMOL" on the label. 
It's a day where you attend a childhood friend's wedding, and decide to object, and admit to your numerous flaws and mistakes over the course of your years knowing each other, but reaffirm that love conquers all, or more likely spend the entire evening wondering if you tied your tie properly, eat three pieces of cake, cry a little bit too hard at the Beyonce - Psy mashup the DJ prepared, temporarily lose your vision, and vomit on the rented bus  when it hits a speed bump and have to pay a month's salary to your unrequited love's new in-laws. 
This Valentine's Day, you can witness James Valentino's actual dangerously enlarged heart, preserved all these years later in formaldehyde, simply by logging into OKCupid and saying the magic password. If you don't know it, then you already know disappointment.