She Wolf

February 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

While following the stimulus-plan drama on TV, I’ve been making Valentine’s Day jewelry—not specifically for V day, just necklaces featuring that bright pink we all associate with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, roses, and female baboons in heat.

Many men, for reasons I fail to understand, have an aversion to Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, sex—what’s so difficult? No guesswork is involved.  My husband kept forgetting that I really liked expensive chocolate. For 25 years. But he made me some spectacular cards.

That was Charles, forgetful and poor. Philip actually hates the day itself, even though he listens to Sinatra on Jonathan Schwartz every weekend, and often cries. He’s as soft inside as a Hershey bar left on the dashboard in high summer. But maybe that’s the trouble. Why have a day for romance when all of life is supposed to be romantic, from boyish heroics to glamorous women, ‘50’s jazz bars, torch songs, idealistic Presidents…oh, wait, we have that last one. Maybe he’ll feel better this year.

I’m thinking we should skip the 14th and move right on to February 15th—the Roman festival of Lupercalia. On that date, in Classical times, Roman priests would go to the cave where the mythic she-wolf once suckled the twins Romulus and Remus, sacrifice a goat and a dog, smear the foreheads of two highborn young men with blood and wipe it off with wool soaked in milk, at which point the men were required to laugh—are you with me so far, guys? Then the hide of the goat was cut into strips and soaked in blood. The young men ran naked through the streets—except for a bit of goat hide fastened around their waists (I don’t know what happened to the dog, possibly eaten by the priests)—brandishing their bloody whips and lashing everyone in sight, but especially women who would line up for the favor, as this ritual was thought to bring fertility and ease in childbirth.

Now that Robert Bly’s Iron John has been unhip long enough to be hip again, maybe we should encourage our partners to strip down and flail about with animal hide, while we wait “like children at school present[ing] their hands to be struck”* and keep our mouths shut about how often we’ve entertained the fantasy of pulling out a bloody tampon and smacking them in the face with it.

Ok, maybe that’s just me.

Yes, I have my period today, for the 475th time. Imagine if I’d made embryos out of all those eggs, rounded up a herd of wolves to bear and suckle them…I could replace the entire House of Representatives and all Republican senators with my offspring.

* Plutarch, The Life of Caesar


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§ One Response to She Wolf

  • Andree Pages says:

    I enjoyed this, Margaret. Never had the female-sanitary-device fantasy. My own fertility went bye bye a few years ago, and life is much better on this side. The image of naked Romans running down the streets while women wait to be flogged–those Romans really knew how to have fun. Really. No wonder the Empire lasted so long. Who’d want to leave that behind for, like, the Dark Ages?

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