February 14, 2013
Of all my dumb Valentine's Day gift ideas, today's offering is perhaps the best ever:
A furtive language of love.
It's my wish that every American couple speak it today (or tonight, as is their wont) as a surefire way to spark the fires of romance.
Valentine's Day hasn't always been this easy. Years ago I foolishly suggested buying my wife a heart-shaped crown roast of veal, which she might cook and serve to her loving husband and friends as they watched sports on TV. But for some odd reason, that wasn't fully appreciated.
My friend Jake loved giving bouquets of broccoli for Valentine's, because they're beautiful, healthy, green and cheap.
Other stupid ideas you should never give include a nose-hair trimmer and a leopard print Snuggie. But I've finally found something that isn't that stupid.
For Valentine's Day, my wife shall have lessons in Dothraki, that she may speak to me in the language of the fierce barbarian horse lords in HBO's series "Game of Thrones."
"You want to give me what?" she asked.
Dothraki lessons, I said.
"You mean from that TV show?" she asked.
She looked at me as if I'd just roasted our dog and served him up with couscous and parsley garnish. I waited and waited but she said nothing. Finally I asked why she'd stopped talking.
"Because you're fishing for a quote," she said. "And I'm not going to give you one."
But my love, "Yer jalan atthirari anni." (You are the moon of my life.)
She didn't say a word. But don't worry. She may start speaking to me again in a week or two. That's because Dothraki — a purely fictional tongue created for "Game of Thrones" — is perhaps the most romantic language ever invented.
One day she may address me at home as Great Khal, or Great King. And if I am her Khal, then it follows that she will be my beloved Khaleesi, queen of all the horse people. Although, the last time we were actually on horseback, we were at the Wisconsin Dells when the boys were little and the horses smelled, there were many flies and the kids started crying. Then came the horse spit. It was a disaster.
Dothraki was created for HBO by a California linguist, David J. Peterson. Now there are many websites devoted to the teaching of it. So when my wife finally speaks to me again — say, when I come from work and shout, "Hi, Honey, I'm home" — she might loudly proclaim as befits a Dothraki queen: "Athchomar chomakaan, khal vezhven!" (Welcome, Great Khal!)
Some of you might not have seen the show, but a new season of "Game of Thrones" begins next month. Just think of "Lord of the Rings" with lots of sex, beheadings and betrayals. Oh, and Dothraki love scenes in their yurts (tentlike dwellings).
There is also a cunning, noble imp played by the great actor Peter Dinklage, who was introduced to HBO viewers in the very first episode. He was drinking wine while being Clintonized.
So it's not for children. I repeat. No children. Perhaps not even sons-in-law.
"I stopped over at my father-in-law's house and he had 'Game of Thrones' on and he said, 'You ever watch this? It's pretty good,'" said a guy at work. "So I sat down and the Dothraki were going at it, you know, doing it in the yurt. And then a yurt exploded and I think a horse died. It was rather awkward. But it was good."
The fictional Dothraki themselves aren't particularly romantic, what with all their riding and dueling and never bathing and putting whole cities of "sheep people" to the sword and so on. But they do have their tender side. And the saga of the star-crossed lovers, the brooding Khal and his lovely Khaleesi, was quite touching.
Sadly, most people I spoke with, even crazed "Game of Throne" fans, said I look nothing like the gigantic, muscled, braided and oiled barbarian tribal king. They also said it was stupid to think a modern American woman would speak Dothraki. I hope with every fiber of my being that they are wrong.
"Dothraki is romantic when the big horseman was saying it," said a colleague, referring to Jason Momoa, who is about 6-foot-6 inches with a 12-pack and portrayed Khal Drogo. "But you?"
Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis consoled me.
"OK, so you don't have a braid and a 12-pack stomach," Stantis said. "But you have a kegger. And kegs are better than a 12-pack, right?"
Yer darn tootin'. There's more to love in a kegger.
Happily, a woman who is a big fan of "Game of Thrones" said the naysayers were all wrong. She said the queen was right to learn Dothraki to speak to her Khal, and that if my wife and I wished to speak a fictional language of leather-clad horse nomads in our quiet west suburban village, that was our business.
"I had to learn another language to communicate with my husband when we got married," she said.
"No," she said. "Hockey. He plays hockey. So I learned to speak hockey."
Happy Valentine's Day.
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