Valentine’s Day: Gaping Void of Love

Feb 01, 2010 • Art, Culture, Interview

Our editor has the same argument with her mother every year about Valentine’s Day. It looks like this:

AV: I want a man to give me presents for no reason, because he simply can’t resist being reminded of me whether he’s in the shower or strolling around town.

HER: good luck with that. Men are goal-oriented creatures. They need execution dates and a general template to follow or defy, hence the importance of holidays, anniversaries and birthdays — and nudges from us.

AV: that’s bleak, Mom.

Then, without fail, a few days before said holiday, AV will receive an e-mail from her father requesting approval of his latest gift. Everything from bizarre orchids (which her mother loves even though she invariably kills them) to a dinner in a tiny island only big enough for a table under a gazebo, with an ensemble of musicians in boats around them to serenade them.

AV got roses — once. From her ex-husband before he was her husband. Moral? UR DOIN IT RONG, AV.

So we here at Sex and the 405 have decided to do everyone a favor and put some options on the table for you, the first of which is a personal favorite of ours: art by Hugh MacLeod.

Somehow, our shameless editrix-in-command got the Wall Street Journal bestselling author to take a few seconds from his incredible creation schedule to give us some answers. We present these to you for your nomage:

AV Flox: Tell me about the Love Series — how did it come about?

Hugh MacLeod: The Love Series came about in 2007, when I was asked to design some Valentine’s Day promotion material for one of my clients. They went down a treat, and then when Valentine’s Day came around this year I decided to resurrect them.

AV: One of my favorite pieces by you “Commitment” isn’t on there — it should be. That’s love in a nutshell for me.

Your description you included with that piece goes like this:

Within 1 week of meeting this person you realize that not only have you found your soulmate, but you’ve found your soulmate who likes to have sex 4 times a day in the bed, on the dining table, on the kitchen floor, in the changing rooms at Bloomingdale’s etc.

Within 2 weeks you’re already talking about moving in together.

Within 3 weeks you’re talking about having babies together.

Within 4 weeks you realize this person is a complete psychopath.

Within 5 weeks this person also thinks you’re a complete psychopath.

Within 6 weeks you’re sitting at a restaurant with an old friend who is giving you the “How come you only call me when you’re single” speech.

Which is a really long way of asking: have you really had sex in a changing room at Bloomingdale’s? How was it?

HM: I never had sex in Bloomingdale’s. My parents gave me a double bed for my 17th birthday (“Hey, we’d rather have you doing it on that than in the back of a car…”), so from an early age I never had to scout out exotic locations, unlike some of my hapless single-bed school chums. That informed me as I got older.

AV: I have a queen-sized bed but I still love changing-room sex.

HM: The trouble with changing rooms, it’s impossible to spoon afterwards.

AV: But you can grab high tea at Neiman’s! [Laughs] Anyway, since we’re on the subject of the delectable: have you ever done a drawing on human flesh? If not, can I reserve the rights? Thanks.

HM: I once had a wonderful girlfriend who loved getting naked and getting me to draw on her. I was happy to oblige, but never really understood why it turned her on so much. I guess we all have our kinks, so whatever…

The lovely and charming Hermione Way asked me draw on her neck with a Sharpie last SXSW. But we were just having a laugh, nothing kinky happening there. She had already had a ton to drink that night (as did I), so when she woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror…

As for yourself, by all means! The next time you see me, bring a Sharpie!

AV: We all have our kinks, you say. What’s yours?

HM: It takes at least four cocktails to get the kinks outta me.

AV: Duly noted. So Valentine’s Day — because I have to ask — sweet or stupid holiday?

HM: I think Valentine’s day started off well, back in 17th Century Europe, where the idea was to send somebody a secret, anonymous letter that said, “I fancy you”. That’s pretty hot, to get one of those in the mail. But now we send Valentine’s cards to our grannies and vice versa. It kinda defeats the original purpose.


There you have it, our sweet orchids of desire and destruction, the inimitable Hugh MacLeod. If you have an art junkie in your life, check out his gallery. If you’re a Twitter junkie, add him: @gapingvoid.

Closing words?

“Ladies, please always remember The Golden Rule: Men Are Stupid,” says Hugh MacLeod. “So if you want your man to get you one of these beauties for Valentine’s Day, do not assume he and his walnut-sized brain will be smart enough to figure it out on their own. Best to drop him a hint. Maybe kick him in the shins. Or something.”