For years of my childhood I thought “My Funny Valentine” was an unbearable torch song, heavy and ponderous with meaning. Then I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing it and I found that it was funny and sweet. So before the reader goes on-line to find it, here are the words,
Behold the way our fine feathered friend,
His virtue doth parade
Thou knowest not, my dim-witted friend
The picture thou hast made
Thy vacant brow, and thy tousled hair
Conceal thy good intent
Thou noble upright truthful sincere,
And slightly dopey gent
You’re my funny valentine,
Sweet comic valentine,
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable,
Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.
Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
But, don’t change a hair for me.
Not if you care for me.
Stay little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine’s Day.
(This last stanza repeats.)
I have often thought there was something about these words that express a kind of archetype: “True love is blind.” I longed as a child to believe that someday I would find him: he might not be handsome; he might not be well-dressed or have money; he might not have extraordinary ambitions… yet–to quote Gershwin’s “The Man I Love”–“To my heart he carries the key.”
When I was still honestly looking for the guy who I could call my own, I wanted him to be unique. He would be different than other guys; smarter, eccentric, and intellectual. Some of the guys I asked out turned out to be huge disasters. I remember one in particular–I won’t describe him in any detail–who turned out to be downright abusive after his liberal pose. Yet sometimes I find myself daydreaming about that “Funny Valentine” who I could really tell things like, “What I love about you is not your body, I love you. I love your spirit, your gentle kindness and thoughtfulness.”
If I could write his love story without be trite and conventional, I might call it Geek Love, except another book has that title. I have often thought that the flaw in most romance novels is that they have a particular heroine and a particular hero following the same pattern to marriage. Mine would no doubt fall into this pitfall, save that the girl would be obese with wiry glasses and the guy would be… a Geek. And they would realize (drumroll) that love didn’t have to exist only for people who were beautiful or rich. And “their song” would be “My Funny Valentine,” because they both see their pedestrian ordinary looks and difficult route to love–just as without the right singer, the song is a piece of crap. Yet I have the bad feeling that if I wrote the story, it would be a romance like other romances… and I always insist my novels be unique–like Ella Fitzgerald’s singing of “My Funny Valentine.”