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Posted: February 10, 2011 6:37 p.m.

Morgan: Of Love, loyalty and Sinatra

It’s the season of hearts and flowers, wine and chocolate, mushy cards or, better yet, jewelry.

Few are oblivious to thoughts of love once Valentine’s Day comes into view. When it comes to love, I’m a fool for Frank Sinatra, even though he’s not among the living. My husband knows it, tolerates it, even encourages it. When he signed me up for a satellite radio service, the first station he set on the dial was "Seriously Sinatra," where I can revel in lots and lots of Sinatra. He is my constant companion who can make weak in the knees even when I’m not standing.

In traffic the other day, I melted into the seat when he lowered his rich and commanding voice to an enticing and entreating level and began to sing: "I see your face before me, crowding my every dream.There is your face before me. You are my only theme. It doesn’t matter where you are, I can see how fair you are. I close my eyes and there you are. Always.

"Would that my love could haunt you so, knowing I want you so. I can’t erase your beautiful face before me."

His voice reached through the air waves and pulled me close. It was my face he longed for. I just know it.

Snicker if you will, but allow an aging woman her fantasies. For one thing, the face isn’t what it used to be, but I’m sure he would find something in it to love. Frank was a connoisseur of all kinds and ages of women; He "never met one he didn’t love," according to reports. There’s that bad boy side of him, and I was always drawn to men with a little edgy side to them. That was not always a good thing, historically speaking.

I was in my forties when the Sinatra bug bit, and I can’t say why it took me so long. I fell for that rich and comforting voice that modulated over the years with cigarettes and whiskey, his ability to master his breathing capacity to give lyrics a couldn’t-be-imitated phrasing. I liked his jaunty style, those fedoras, the way he wore a tuxedo like no one else until George Clooney. He was an early supporter of civil rights, long before it was a movement, but he also trod the shady side with family ties to the mob. He was brash, impulsive, full of himself. He led a racy lifestyle. There was a lot to like and plenty not to like. But he hooked me.

There’s no telling what makes one person fall for another in real life. Some of the most unlikely matches make long-term history, but in other cases, the opposites that attracted eventually lose their luster, and the unions fall into disrepair or dissolution. Some people vow they’ve married their "soul mates," but I’m hard pressed to define a soul mate. Is it someone who is so much like yourself that it’s like looking in a mirror? Would that be boring, I wonder. Or is it the person who is so dissimilar from you, that it supposedly completes your other half. Dark needs light. Impulsive needs frugal. Intensity needs calm. Are we to search for similar or dissimilar in pursuit of a fruitful union? Or does "it" just happen, randomly and unawares?

There comes that first blushing awareness of interest in another person. Blushing turns to warmth when you find the other person looking back with the same interest. Warmth turns to tender tentativeness. Tentativeness turns to intensity. Intensity spawns romance, then passion, then promises of undying fealty. Often passion is where modern affairs languish without moving on, but in other cases heady passion flows smoothly into something called "love," setting off a chain of events that culminates in a ring and a ceremony or just cohabitation without a legal blessing. More and more that’s the case, as the percentage of people believing in the need for marriage continues to decline.

It is true, however, that love always leaves its mark, whether that mark appears as the ragged edges of broken hearts and angry endings or whether the mark remains in the fond and lasting bonds of vows never broken. With the passage of time, the kind of love that remains when the heat of intense passion and longing retreats — as it must — is the kind you need to make it through life’s travails, whether scaling the heights or trudging through dark valleys. It is when love — not the red-hot kind — turns to loyalty that we find the real meaning of the word.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.

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