DOES VALENTINE’S DAY MATTER? Jackie Collins investigates. (Harper’s Bazaar)
My favorite story about Valentine’s Day goes like this: One very beautiful Hollywood wife—married to a man 20 years older than she—is having an affair with a hunky young actor who’s just hit it big on a TV show. Valentine’s Day is approaching, and both men want to buy her something substantial. “An important piece of jewelry,” offers her husband, fired up with Viagra. “Whatever you want,” says her young lover, fired up with testosterone. The Hollywood wife thinks about this. Surely she has been presented with an opportunity to score big-time? Advantage must be taken, so she visits a fancy jeweler, picks out an exquisite yellow diamond cocktail ring, and proposes to the jeweler a deal: Her husband buys the ring for her, paying full price. Then her boyfriend “buys” the same ring, except that the jeweler gives 90 percent of the price to the wife without anyone knowing. So now both men have bought the same ring, and not only does the Hollywood wife get the bauble but she gets to wear it with either man because each is under the impression that he gave it to her as a special Valentine’s Day gift. She’s happy, with plenty of extra spending money. Hunky lover is delighted he gave her such a magnificent present. So is cuckolded husband. And the jeweler walks away with a handsome profit. Satisfaction all around. Valentine’s Day, Hollywood-style!
Consider who the winners are on Valentine’s Day. The candy stores with their lurid-purple heart-shaped boxes of overpriced chocolates? The cardmakers with their over-the-top messages and flowery designs? The florists, who are busy trying not to get their deliveries mixed up? (Are the exotic orchids for the wife or the mistress? One divorce coming up!) And let’s not forget the restaurants. A waiter friend at a Bel Air hotel once told me that all the waiters who worked room service would fight to deliver Valentine’s goodies to a curvaceous movie star who checked in every February 14 for a mani-pedi and a full-body massage. She was partial to a club sandwich or two, and when the waiter delivered, she would be lolling in a chair totally nude. Little wonder the staff was fighting! My good friend David Niven Jr. used to throw the Hollywood Valentine’s Day party. The dress code for men was black tie; for women, red or white. The ladies—everyone from Farrah Fawcett to Alana Stewart to Jaclyn Smith to Sherry Lansing—pulled out all the stops and looked incredibly glamorous. It was one of those annual parties that if you weren’t invited, you stashed your car in the garage and pretended to be out of town! Ah, Hollywood … the land of hype.
Writing about Valentine’s Day makes me think of one of my characters, Lucky Santangelo. She sums up love like this: “Falling in love is like getting hit by a large truck and yet not being mortally wounded. Just sick to your stomach, high one minute, low the next. Starving hungry but unable to eat. Hot, cold, forever horny, full of hope and enthusiasm, with momentary depressions that wipe you out. It is also not being able to remove the smile from your face, loving life with a mad, passionate intensity, and feeling 10 years younger.” Yes. Love is special. Love is an all-year-round thing. So do we need Valentine’s Day? I’ll leave it up to you.