As Valentine's Day approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to love, relationships, and the fact that the IRS tax filing deadline is only two months away.
OK, not a very romantic thought, but at least it's genuine, which is more than I can say for much of the propaganda surrounding Love. That's "Love" with a capital "L," the way it appears on balloons and cheap greeting cards and the side panels of '68 VW vans.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of Love. But it's definitely had more than its share of apologists and spin doctors over the years - and I don't just mean guys like Shakespeare and Byron. Modern day pop stars and movie actors are just as apt to go around spouting nonsense, such as:
All you need is love. It was The Beatles, of course, who sang this oft-quoted line - oft-quoted if you count bumper stickers on '86 Volvos. And what did that philosophy get them? Nothing but failure: failed marriages, failed bands, the song "Imagine."
The truth is - as I'll quickly tell any guy who wants to marry my daughter - you need a lot more than just love. Like, say, a job. And decent health insurance. A car that runs, sans Beatles bumper stickers, might be nice, too.
Love will keep us together. Notwithstanding such moving social anthems as "Muskrat Love," the husband and wife duo of Captain and Tennille did us all a great disservice with this pronouncement.
Love will keep us together? Really? Try telling that to Mrs. Captain's first husband.
As all adult mammals know, muskrat or otherwise, it takes a lot more than love to keep us together. That's why mortgages were invented. And joint checking accounts. And Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws. And children.
Love means never having to say you're sorry. These immortal words, from Ali McGraw's character in "Love Story," have probably done more damage than any other line in film history, with the possible exception of the Little Mermaid's father telling her it's OK to get married at 16.
The harsh reality is - pay close attention, young people - love means ALWAYS having to say you're sorry. This is especially true if you're a man, in which case you are required to be sorry for just about everything, including being a man.
In conclusion, please don't misconstrue anything I've said to suggest that I'm in any way opposed to love. I'm actually pretty lucky in that regard, having been happily married to the same woman for more than half my life (note to my wife: I'm sorry). In fact, this week, we'll celebrate our 25th Valentine's Day together.
The secret, however, is not that we've bought into the mindless bromides of pop culture. Rather, we've come to understand what's really important: In just two months, we'll celebrate our 25th tax filing deadline together.
Rob Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.