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Words of love

(a journalistic box of chocolates)
By PHILIP EIL  |  February 6, 2014


It would be tough to find a single company responsible for everything wrong with modern-day American Valentine’s Day. But your neighborhood CVS is a good place to start.

Before we go any further on that rant, though, we should mention that we’re not the first to spew snark at the Woonsocket-based juggernaut. This year, in early January, Twitter user @miketoole posted a photo from a New Jersey CVS showing shelves where a strange collection of products — KY jelly, metal handcuffs, a picture frame dotted with “I love you,” a bouquet of fake roses, boxes of LIBIDO MAX and the emergency contraceptive Plan B — had been assembled. The shelf was marked “keep it sweet.” Shortly thereafter, @miketoole received a response from @CVS_Extra, saying, “Hi there, we are looking into this immediately in order to have this inappropriate display removed.”

Then, this past weekend, Saturday Night Live ran a brutal faux advertisement highlighting the Valentine’s Day schlock — from stuffed bears dressed like a bees with “Bee Mine” tags to Mylar balloons that sing “Mambo No. 5” — that appear on CVS shelves, come mid-January.

We at the Phoenix have been beaten at our own game. And so, instead of tossing jabs at our favorite Rhody-based purveyor of lube and M&Ms, we decided to take a more expansive approach. Sure, V-Day is a monstrous orgy of commodified emotion. But it’s also a decent time to take stock of how we, as humans, are relating to one another. And so what follows is an admittedly chaotic collection of riffs, graphs, interviews, mini-advice columns, and essays — all linked vaguely by romance, love, sex, and any other Valentines-y themes you can think of. It’s a journalistic box of chocolates.

Oh, and don’t shed too many tears for CVS. Their most recent quarterly earnings report delivered this quote from president and CEO Larry Merlo: “Between dividends and share repurchases, we expect to return $5 billion to our shareholders in 2013.” The next CVS Caremark Corporation earnings report drops February 11. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.


Print journalists tend to have mixed feelings about Craigslist. On one hand, Craigslist is one of the online outlets slowly wringing the life force from our beloved publications. On the other hand, its “Missed Connections” — where folks drop anonymous, lovelorn, quasi-pornographic notes to strangers whom they’ve encountered in real life — are amazing.

Here’s one we recently found that’s worth sharing. It was posted on January 22. Pardon the punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

Hipster getting off at RISD east side tunnel — m4w — 26 (ripta tunnel)

there you were, with your del’s lemonade in the middle of winter (where did you get it?!) and brown university lanyard with a risd id card. you started walking toward the starbucks and i clutched the last few seconds that i could hold on to, surreptitiously gawking at your blade-sharp bangs and your neat red lipstick.

were you meeting a friend to discuss rimbaud? descartes? were you going to order an espresso or a macchiato? perhaps paint your biscotti with your deep red lips? i knew for sure that whatever beverage you chose, inevitably your sexy burnt crimson lipstick would end up on that cup. god, i’ve never wanted to be a cup so bad.

you had a black bag, obviously purchased at the american apparel near JWU before they shut it down because JWU is just a hive for conformity and lacks a fashionably hip student body that would shop there.

i wonder. . . do you like hot wieners? david byrne used to work at the new york system on smith street. i wish we could climb into my TARDIS and journey back to when Mr. Psycho Killer himself could line his arms with 10 wieners, all the way — with a side of coffee milk. (“Qu’est-ce que c’est . . . )

we could then travel to faunce arch where we would stand and be too cool for school.

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