bearded Valentines

(I couldn't find any bearded [German] Iris)

This is a funny Valentine, but perhaps funny is as good an approach as any to a holiday whose simplicity has been as compromised by commercialism as much as this one has - and we know it can get still worse.

It's also an ode to men, even if it might interest all the many kinds of people who love them.

With the significant exception of the affection shown between couples or groups which do not include a man*, Een kus zonder baard is een ei zonder zout [A kiss without a beard is like an egg without salt], according to a Dutch proverb I stumbled across for the first time today while reading Joshua Foer's OP-ED piece in the NYTimes.

In any event, you don't have to be handy in the kitchen to enjoy this treat, and absolutely no preparation is necessary. One or more affectionate warm bodies and nine or ten hours of total neglect following the morning shave should be enough.

My experience of its pleasures began while I was still a child, since I can recall the frisson of nuzzling the very serious moustaches of both my Grandfathers Gustav and Joh[an]n, and even the beautiful stiff black stubble my own normally clean-shaven Father [Clarence] had acquired by the time we all kissed him in the evening.

I'll admit here and now that I was more than a little terrified of all of them, but when I became a man I took up the things of a man, so to speak, and I think nothing except cruelty has frightened me since.

While the beard I've [barely] cultivated for decades was initially, and so it has remained, mostly my response to the discomfort and tedium of the shaving routine and not an advertisement of my preferences in partners I consider myself very lucky to have always been able to find men who seem to appreciate salt.

I can't imagine where I'd be today if Barry had not been in their number.

Only the best to all lovers everywhere, today and always, no matter how hairy-cheeky.

I'm pretty certain that in a darker age, when the men were putting together these proverbs we dig up occasionally even today, most of them couldn't even imagine women could share a serious affection for each other, which just goes to show that, like all proverbs, this one has very serious limitations.

this is a great photo. it would make a great painting. i made a small painting based on a photo that i took (i think they were irises) this past fall (

would you have a high(er) resolution image of this photo?