Happy VaLENTine's Day

Get it? Because it's Lent, but it's also Valentine's Day!  Yes, yes, Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday, but it couldn't hurt to at least find out whether your beloved cares about it -- and if so, do something nice.  

But  not too nice!  Because it's Lent!

Well, my husband and I are just gonna celebrate Valentine's Day on Sunday, because Sundayisn'treallypartofLent,there,Isaidit.  But if you gotta do something today, here are a few ideas for how to combine romance and suffering, sweetness and pain.

CAROB  Remember carob?  It looks like chocolate that's been sitting in a dusty corner for a while, and it tastes like a chocolately dusty corner.  Give your significant other a satiny, heart-shaped box packed with an assortment of carob, and you will be transmitting a powerful Lenten message:  we must not be seduced by the passing allure of temporal things, for the sweetness of this world is but a ackkkk, blech, ptui, what is this?

QUEEN VICTORIA'S SECRET  Nothing wrong with keeping that spark of romance alive in your marriage, so why not show your wife that you think she's still hot stuff?  On the other hand, you don't want to get too carnal when Lent is just getting started.  So try this easy trick:  pick out something satiny or lacy, but at least four sizes too large.  As the lucky lady opens the box, you can wiggle your eyebrows suggestively while explaining, "The way you've been packing it on lately, I figured I'd better be safe than sorry, whoo-eee!"  I guarantee you, no sins of fleshly excess will threaten your evening.  Unless you count "stabbing" as a sin of fleshly excess.

SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE FLOWERS  Take a leaf from liturgical terrorists decorators around the country:  go out back where the dumpsters are, pull up some dead grass, and add a few twiggy things and maybe a really scuzzy looking cattail.  Stick it in a pot, preferably one that looks like grandma got into the clay again.  Voila -- Lent flowers!  In a similar vein, if you know your wife or girlfriend was hoping for perfume, you can substitute sand, because sand is symbolic and whatnot.

MEANINGFUL JEWELRY  Any unimaginative bozo can stumble into the local jewelry franchise and pick out a diamond this or a ruby that.  What you want is something that is not only decorative but also saturated in spiritual significance.  So go ahead and rummage through the lost and found box sitting on the radiator at the back of the church.  Maybe you'll find a nice, broken-in scapular, already "seasoned" with the holy liquid emanations of countless fervent necks.  Or maybe you'll really luck out and discover a miraculous medal that's been so well-loved that the miraculous transformation is complete, and what was once Mary is now a holy manatee.  Jackpot!

A LOVE LETTER TELLING YOUR BELOVED HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. . . about the state of his or her soul.  True love doesn't sit by and let other people wallow in sin!  Some simple ideas for showing how much you care:  to prove just how well you know the one you love, consider a hand-penned examination of his or her conscience.  Or you might assemble a "dream team" of patron saints which you will be assigning to the cause of your beloved's soul (St. Drogo, St. Fiacre and, of course, St. Jude spring to mind).  Or, if inspiration fails you, there is nothing wrong with kifing a few lines from the classics.  I suggest Jeremiah.  There are also some really exquisite passages in Hosea.

Well, good luck.  You're gonna need it.