By David Martin –
This being the week of Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t resist looking into our internet tubes for some examples — awesome and awful — of extreme romantic gestures.
The Taj Mahal in India is considered by some the most beautiful building ever constructed. This gleaming white, perfectly balanced structure was built by Shah Jahan in 1632 to memorialize one of his wives, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth and is entombed in the Taj Mahal. There’s unconfirmed speculation that the Shah Jahan was planning to build an exact, mirror-image replica of the Taj Mahal for his own burial spot — except his would be built of black marble, would be across the river from the white marble Taj Mahal, and would be connected to it with a bridge. Now THAT would have been spectacular beyond measure.
Speaking of famous stone structures, in 1915 Englishman Cecil Chubb decided to buy his wife an anniversary gift and paid north of $600,000 in today’s money for 30 acres that surrounded and included Stonehenge, arguably the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. His wife’s reaction to this grand romantic gesture: Meh. She had sent him to the auction house to buy curtains and he comes home with this … this … rockson-top-of-rocks thing. Chubb ended up deeding the land and monument to public ownership. In return, he became Sir Cecil Chubb.
Joseph Horace Greasley was a World War II soldier from England. He was captured by the Germans and put in a forced labor camp. While there he met a woman, Rosa Rauchbach, who was working as a translator. Greasley kept thinking about Rauchbach, kept thinking about her, kept … he couldn’t stand it any longer so he escaped and met up with her. But then, because the camp was deep in Nazi territory and because he wanted to see Rauchbach again, Greasley snuck back into the prison camp so he could be where he was supposed to be when the guards came around in the morning. He liked visiting his lover so much that he escaped and returned to the prison camp 200 times, according to his autobiography. After the war, with Greasley back in England and Rauchbach serving as a translator for the Americans in Germany, the two lovers corresponded until her letters abruptly stopped. Greasley found out that she had died in childbirth and the timing was right for that child to have been his.
Getting a tattoo of your lover’s name can be a grand or a really awful romantic gesture. Sometimes, the tattoo is acquired too early in a relationship so that the named person, instead of being honored, gets a creepy feeling. And then if the relationship doesn’t work out, you can end up like a gentleman we knew who had two names tattooed on his forearm, each name with a single line tattooed through it. When he fell in love again, he was getting a third name tattooed below the first two.
With love, whether or not on Valentine’s Day, hope springs eternal.