Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cupid meets Tiger

When I was a kid, there was this little kid, a son of some family friends, who had a famous quote. He wasn’t especially precocious, but he said this thing that became an oft-repeated line in our house. This was it:

I was going to business. And on the way, I met a tiger.

Of course, it was all in the delivery: very matter-of fact, with kind of a verbal shrug at the end. And you could picture this little kid with a fedora hat and briefcase, encountering this tiger. A James Thurber cartoon.

I thought of it today because the kid in the quote could be Cupid arriving for work as Valentine’s Day dawns, with his bow and arrows in his briefcase, and who does he encounter, also going to business, but a tiger. Because today begins the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar.

This is one of those clashes of titans that almanacs have to deal with every now and then. Who yields? Neither. Love is love. China is China. Valentine’s Day comes but once a year. A year outlasts a day. So today is colored orange and red, two colors that only normally co-exist in an orange-cherry Twinsicle.

“Hey, Tiger.”
“Hey, Cupid.”
Gung hee fat choy.”
“Close. It’s Gong shee fah tai.”
“Not a problem. Here. Have a red envelope.”
“Aw. A two dollar bill!”
“Don’t spend it all in one place.”
“Here’s a red envelope for you, too.”
“Aw. ‘Roses are red, oranges ain’t. I’d put on some stripes, but I don’t have the paint.’”
“It’s the thought that counts.”
"Good luck.”
“Thanks. Hope you get lucky, too.”

• •

No cardinals seen to lend their red (or orioles, their orange), but mark today as the first Stratojac day! After pancakes, I ambled down to Walgreen’s in Stratojac (down vest) over flannel shirt to get the Sunday papers. A declaration that we are on the Washingtonian side of February now, redolent of cherry trees and crossing the icy Delaware. Gong shee fah tai. Congratulations and prosperity!

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