Thomas Froese Photo

PDF Version

(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, February 12, 2022)

Today, with Valentine’s rounding the corner, let’s talk about love and insanity.

First, under the heading, “Everything I’ve Learned In Life, I’ve Learned From My Teenagers,” let me say that there are never a lack of new and exciting lessons. “You know, Dad,” my eldest said recently. “Don’t take this wrong, but I have no idea how you got Mom. I mean, she’s way out of your league.”

OK, gentlemen. Husbands? Dads? Should we lean into this? “Absolutely,” I told my astute daughter. “Me getting your mother was the heist of the century.” What can I say? Strange things happen. People marry up.

Consider the hopeless romantic at a wedding I’d once attended. You want insanity? This guy was a friend of both bride and groom (she was a doctor with a farming background, while he was a financial planner who also farmed). So at the reception the dude strolled, unplanned, to the podium to share how said groom, Wayne, had once asked him for advice on how to win the bride’s heart.

“So I told Wayne, to win her heart, do this, this and this,” said Mister Hopeless, “Finally, you need to sing her the moo-moo song.’ ” Then this dude sang. For everyone. I recognized the song from an old TV ad about a cow’s deep love for a certain steak sauce. “Can you imagine? How much I love you? Moo-moo-moo-moo.” Hopeless sang it, complete with the moo-moos. Crazy.

Along with everyone, a couple of hundred wedding guests, I had no idea what might come out of this guy’s mouth next. But later, privately and not surprisingly, he explained that his singing advice to the groom never happened. He’d made it up, on the spot, to impress his rather striking date for the evening. Did I mention insanity?

Now consider Alain de Botton, a sort of everyday philosopher and life mentor, a Swiss gentleman in London who founded what he calls The School of Life. Here he is. “We’re dangerous. And most of us are on the edge of insanity. The only people that look normal to us are the people we just met.” And this. “We’re trouble to be around, and also a bit crazy. It follows then that anyone we’re going to get together with is also a bit crazy.”

What helps, besides recognizing that you and your partner are both insane, is coming to a new understanding of what love actually is. Besides serving, it’s about learning.

So marry a stable person, sure. But even steady people can show strange behaviour. So be generous in how you interpret it. Remember, like you, your partner is an idiot. (Although a very lovable idiot.) Realize, also, you’ll feel lonely sometimes. It’s OK. Really. Your partner isn’t meant to fill every need. And if this leads to unhappiness? Even pessimism? As a healthy reset, this can help too.

Does this sound very romantic? No? Good. This, all from de Botton.

I, for one, don’t disagree. And, by the way, I happen to be the guy. Mister Hopeless? From the wedding podium? That’s me. “Can you imagine? How much I love you?” It’s true. Deeply. Madly. There I stood. Here I still stand, hopelessly insane, no doubt, now long-married to my date of that summer evening.

This Valentine’s, my Bride and I toast these memories. We were engaged on the first Valentine’s Day after the moo-moo song. There was the newspaper front page. The radio station. The town crier. The theatre crowd. But that’s all another story.

Yes, some years on, we’re content to simply celebrate the long and winding road of our absurdities, still on the way, the journey, travelling, learning. Maybe like you.

Which is all to say, Happy Valentine’s, Babe. I’m still crazy for you.