Paper Hearts

by Bruce Holland Rogers

Remember, my love, how innocently it all started, a few cards with black hearts appearing among the more traditional selections of Valentine's Day cards? The I-Hate-Love books released on February 14? Candy hearts started appearing with anti-love messages. The newly divorced gathered at parties for the ritual burning of their marriage certificates. Valentine's Day vandalism was minor back then, grafitti spray painted on florists' delivery vans: VD Sucks! ?

It turned ugly. Slashed tires. Jewelry shop windows painted over in black. Gangs of singles barging into nice restaurants to dump buckets of salty ice water over dining couples. We'd have been among the casualties that time at The Savoy Truffle if we had been sitting one table closer to the door.

Now, here we are huddled in the dark under the stairs, away from the windows, listening to the drunken revelry outside. This is the one night of the year when, if you're going to be out on the street, you're safer to walk alone. Not that we could safel