Even before I was a rabid Game of Thrones fan, my secret special Valentine’s Day fantasy was to rabidly cook and eat an animal’s (non-human, preferably) heart with my lover by my side. The lover in question has changed over the years but the hunger has not. And this year, it will at long last be satiated; for Valentine’s Day 2014, I will be eating a heart.
My Valentine’s Days past are pretty innocuous. During my childhood, my parents established the holiday as one of a few great annual excuses to get absolutely wasted on chocolate, and nothing through jittery puberty or apathetic college has trumped that definition. Not limp roses in my 9th-grade locker, or self-righteously protesting the Hallmark holiday monster by treating it like any other day only to be bragging about being unconventional the entire time, not wearing ill-fitting heels and eating double-date sushi. Nothing until now. For as long as chocolate has reigned, a darker, more insidious vision for the day lurked beneath the throne.
This week, though, it’s finally coming to fruition (is there a more gruesome and less vegetarian synonym for this word? organition?). I get to spend Valentine’s Day eating a venison heart obtained and cooked by my own personal Ron Swanson (that is, my very excellent partner). I feel like a Disney Princess, eyes wide and chest heaving because in a matter of 24 hours her prince has swooped in like a glorious fresh animal organ on the wings of true love.
I’ve written myself off plenty of times as the girl who likes the macabre because of how it makes her seem special and interesting, and I hesitate even now to describe these parts of myself for fear of being seen as contrary simply for the sake of being contrary. But I have never been able to escape by genuine interest and enthusiasm for any number of bodily topics: I majored in bio anthropology (old bones) only to decide my senior year to pursue medicine–more specifically, forensic pathology (fresh bodies).
I have always been fascinated by the stories our bodies tell even long after death, how we etch our lives almost unknowingly into our physical being. I get so excited about all of this it’s hard not to find romance in it. Like a heavy-handed vampire novel, I get wrapped up in the symbolism and I enjoy every bit of it. Love always stirs up the extremes – we romanticize the creation of life out of love (though for the record “making love” is the most cringe-inducing phrase); couples die together or watch each other die or elaborately fake their deaths and then die for real in our most romantic stories. Hell, during the Renaissance, “die” was a synonym for “orgasm.” Conversely, fairy tales, the first love stories we learned thanks to Disney, were originally pretty gruesome and gory. (I’m just saying there’s a lot of people baked in pies.) Essentially what I’m getting at is this: why are literal hearts not a Valentine’s Day delicacy? At a closer glance, I’m not the only morbid one here (lookin’ at you, society).
Sadly, I won’t be ushering my meal from life to plate completely because my boyfriend is still hesitant to “take me out in the field to play with guns.” Which are admittedly my words (but seriously, what’s a girl gotta do to get a heart-on around here?). I’ve put all responsibility for our V-Day meat-cute in his hands. Finding a deer heart shouldn’t be too hard for him, though, because he and his friends see the world through realtree-colored glasses. Deer season is a big deal for all of them (and deer still wildly overpopulate Central New York): it means delicious, fresh Bambi dinners, bucks strung from the ceiling during parties like meat-sletoe, and friendly competition over killing.
A few months ago I made the suggestion for our first Valentine’s Day together. As an avid lover of fresh venison heart and eating things his friends kill, he was more than excited. I wish I could say it had been smooth sailing from then. There have been moments of insecurity in heart procurement. Sometimes things go from “I don’t know if anyone’s still got a heart lying around” to “Someone just has to still have a heart lying around.” He’s reluctant to go to a butcher, which I appreciate, because this we’ve both become intimately invested in this quest. Like the Disney hit Tangled. Except with vital organs instead of lanterns.
The only question left as Venison-tine’s Day fast approaches is “how do you take your heart?” Stir-fried, pot-pied, roasted in the blood of the innocent, or maybe raw, with my hands, my eyes aflame with an insatiable lust for flesh, while our friends chant aggressively, gutturally at my feet? Hopefully the last one so that I can realize my ultimate life goal in addition to my romantic one: being Danaerys Targaryen. Having run out of meat puns, all that’s left is to wait in gleeful anticipation and find the perfect wine. And if my Valentine’s Day flops (as Valentine’s Day has a fateful inevitability to do), I’ve been promised whimsical taxidermy for our anniversary in March.