Love, Marriage and the Silken Dangers of Valentine's Day

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Rooney, Shorelines columnist

Valentine's Day is a week away, and the Rooney Bin is ready! A few weeks ago my true love came home proud that he'd purchased an early Valentine card, but romance actually has been in the air since Christmas, when he handed me a special gift.

Puzzled by the heavy, square package, I said, "It feels like sheets." Then I saw the expectant grin on his face and said, "Oh no. You didn't!"

The gift was indeed a set of satin sheets and pillowcases, reminiscent of Hollywood's glamour days of Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk. It was a definite step up from the Chicken Dance Elmo he gave me in 2002. I didn't want to be a wet blanket. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to remind him we'd tried satin sheets when we were young and frisky and found that when you dive into bed at night you risk shooting straight out the other side.

"You're going to love them," Casanova insisted.

Although we move slower these days, sleeping on satin is still risky business. The luxurious linens are touted as silky soft -- slippery is a better term. Covers slide off the bed, as do pillows and occasionally the occupants; turning over is life-threatening. Plus, satin doesn't breathe, and I don't want to sleep with anything that isn't breathing.

History verifies romance can be hazardous to your health. St. Valentine was clubbed, stoned and -- to be on the safe side -- beheaded on Feb. 14, 270 A.D., or thereabout. There are several stories about the priest who came to personify love, but one that best illustrates my point began when Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage. The emperor thought married men would be reluctant to go to war and leave their families. So Valentine performed secret matrimonial ceremonies for lovers.

A disgruntled mother-in-law must have spilled the beans about the forbidden marriages. Claudius arrested Valentine and tried to force him to renounce Christianity. In turn, Valentine tried to convert the emperor, but was thrown in prison, where he befriended the blind daughter of his jailer and miraculously restored her sight. Before his execution, the martyred priest wrote a farewell note signed, "Love from your Valentine."

In spite of cold and rainy weather, Jan. 31 was a romantic, starlit night inside the Marriott at Sawgrass Resort Island Green Pavilion, where the 10th annual military ball was held for the Nease High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Stars sparkled from streamers hanging from blue and white helium balloons; the gala's theme was "Written in the Stars." Male cadets wore snappy dress uniforms, and the girls were gorgeously gowned. Naval science instructor Capt. Robert Young was duly proud of his NJROTC.

"These kids are awesome and their parents give a lot of support as well," he said.

A somber note amid the festivities was a lone place setting at a table bearing a sword and sign that read: "POW-MIA you are not forgotten."

Young and his wife, Karen, Master Chief John Duffy, guest speaker Kyle Rouse and his mother Joy, Master Sgt. Dave Sachse and his wife, Mona, Cadet Cmdr. Matthew Davis and his date, Arlene Valenzuela, formed a receiving line. Davis also was part of the color guard that included cadets Matt Toucey, Ben Kastroll and C.J. Switzer, and Cadet Kristina Harcourt sang for the guests.

Rouse, a Nease graduate and former cadet, is majoring in finance at Florida State University, but he recently interned at the U.S. House of Representatives and White House. He said Nease gave him a good foundation for political and college experiences.

It was a Republican love-in at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on Monday, at the Ponte Vedra Federated Republican Women's Club annual luncheon. Founder and four-year President Janet Westling stepped down, but isn't out of politics. She'll serve as organizational co-chairwoman for the St. Johns County Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. …