Completely Inappropriate Valentine Cards

Plus: Shakespeare!
Graphics & additional text by Brendan McGinley

Love hurts, but not as much as its side effects. However your soul is stung, it’s nothing compared to the sting of chancres, lesions, sores, and unbearable new knowledge of what the differences between those are. If you’ve been burned by a lover but feel it less in the heart and more in the groin, or–oh no! It’s reached your spine!–you may want to consider sending a more personalized message. On the following pages you’ll find the right message for every situation, no matter how many vaccines, salves, antibiotics, or painkillers it requires.

We’ve also included an accompanying Shakespearean sonnet just to class up your itching, sore sensations.

When I do count the clock that tells the time, 
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; 
When I behold the violet past prime, 
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves 
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves 
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, 
Then of thy beauty do I question make, 
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow; 
   And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
   Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence. 

Bristly beard? Sounds like an excellent breeding ground for horrifying nematodes! Though they live in the intestines, the eggs thrive on transmission via hands and mouth. That’s why you’ve got…


Do people still have pinworms?

Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate, 
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving:
O, but with mine compare thou thine own state,
And thou shalt find it merits not reproving; 
Or, if it do, not from those lips of thine,
That have profaned their scarlet ornaments 
And seal’d false bonds of love as oft as mine, 
Robb’d others’ beds’ revenues of their rents. 
Be it lawful I love thee, as thou lovest those 
Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee: 
Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows 
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be. 
If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,
By self-example mayst thou be denied! 

O, betrayal most foul! Thou has stymied the passions of man! But revenge is a dish best served cold, and briny, much like the sea of troubles that besets thee e’en now…


Also, both are associated with the phrase “bikini area.”

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue 
Could make me any summer’s story tell, 
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white, 
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight, 
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those. 
   Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
   As with your shadow I with these did play.

Yeesh! Shakey, baby, sounds like you’re in the winter of your discontent! Why not cozy up to your baby on a bench, though it be dead of winter, and wrap a writerly arm around her. Then lean in close, and whisper in her ear:


Oh, that is a terrible disease.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st; 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

The Bard sure loved himself some wordplay. So why not spin the street name for his affliction into a tender declaration of love to his “dark lady”? After all, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So give your gal a rose and don’t quibble over nuances like whether you’ve used sly language to accuse her of transmitting a plague most foul.

gonorrhea1 Completely Inappropriate Valentine Cards

Gonorrhea is so horrifying it shows up on this list twice.

O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are 
No longer yours than you yourself here live: 
Against this coming end you should prepare, 
And your sweet semblance to some other give. 
So should that beauty which you hold in lease 
Find no determination: then you were 
Yourself again after yourself’s decease, 
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay, 
Which husbandry in honour might uphold 
Against the stormy gusts of winter’s day 
And barren rage of death’s eternal cold? 
O, none but unthrifts: — Dear my love, you know 
You had a father; let your son say so. 

Accusations? At this late date? It’s true that in old age we seldom recognize ourselves, but love, you are no longer yours. Death doth most heavily upon our brows reside. Take your true heart’s hand in yours and reflect:

scabies1 Completely Inappropriate Valentine Cards

Scabies sounds like a disease you should only get in Elizabethan England.

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still;
The better angel is a man right fair, 
The worser spirit a woman colour’d ill. 
To win me soon to hell, my female evil 
Tempteth my better angel from my side, 
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, 
Wooing his purity with her foul pride. 
And whether that my angel be turn’d fiend 
Suspect I may, but not directly tell; 
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another’s hell: 
Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out. 

Any way you look at it, this is a poem about the complex feelings of a heart ensconced in love and another part submerged in something else entirely. The lesson: always clean thoroughly in between expeditions. For love is a sojourner, and it hasn’t always had all of its shots.


But how are you going to get intestinal paras–Ohhhh.

Tir’d with all these, for restful death I cry, 
As, to behold desert a beggar born, 
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity, 
And purest faith unhappily forsworn, 
And guilded honour shamefully misplaced, 
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, 
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled, 
And art made tongue-tied by authority, 
And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill, 
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity, 
And captive good attending captain ill: 
   Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
   Save that, to die, I leave my love alone. 

Tir’d are ye? You don’t know from tired till you long to lay in your lady’s lap, and she won’t let you. Did you think we mean country matters? We mean lay your head in her lap, my lord. And say she lets you do it…how are you going to blame her kindness when inevitably one of you passes a disease from lap to face or vice versa? ‘Tis an awkward situation.


He’s not napping; he’s passed out in fevered agony.

The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand, 
And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair:
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, 
One blushing shame, another white despair; 
A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both 
And to his robbery had annex’d thy breath; 
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth 
A vengeful canker eat him up to death. 
   More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
   But sweet or colour it had stol’n from thee. 

A vengeful canker! Grossly dyed veins! A purple apoplexy! Willy was writing about a blushing shame from far too familiar a perspective here. Until the disease progresses beyond treatment, and the bloom drains from the flower forever. Yeesh! Old timey people had to romanticize death because life was over by the time they printed the poem.


Gonnorhea is everywhere! Including on her knuckles now.

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, 
Like widow’d wombs after their lord’s decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me 
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee, 
And, thou away, the very birds are mute; 
   Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near. 

So we’re back to winter, eh? Bill, you’re depressing us. We’re going to close our eyes and picture a beach wedding somewhere in the West Indies. A blushing bride, a summer breeze, a tent for soothing shade…there it is. Things should always be this way.

Well, good news, there’s at least one part that will never change, no mattter how much you freeze it off:


Stupid unkillable viruses.

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold, 
Then look I death my days should expiate. 
For all that beauty that doth cover thee 
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart, 
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art? 
O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary 
As I, not for myself, but for thee will; 
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill. 
   Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
   Thou gavest me thine, not to give back again. 

Aging and death are weighing heavily on the Bard’s mind as he ponders his own destruction. Truly this is a man obsessed with decay and debilitation. One must think he’s reminded of it with every trip to the bathroom.


And ending with our horrified screams.

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold, 
Then look I death my days should expiate. 
For all that beauty that doth cover thee 
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart, 
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art? 
O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary 
As I, not for myself, but for thee will; 
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill. 
   Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
   Thou gavest me thine, not to give back again. 

Of course you’re not going to consider yourself old when a disease steals from you both youth and old age alike. Avon’s best poet sure knew how to make the ravages of infection sound sweet. But in the end, the immortality conferred by both love and art is no match for the Grim Reaper’s chilly touch.

sixmonths1 Completely Inappropriate Valentine Cards

A sly third appearance from gonorrhea, mayhap?

Ivan Cohen has been published in Time Out New York, TV Guide, and on Follow him on Twitter @ivanmcohen.

Ivan loaded his comedy for bear with Teddy Roosevelt: Everything Hunter.

Well look at Molly Dandy and her fancy cuttin' knife!

Well look at Molly Dandy and her fancy cuttin’ knife!

Brendan McGinley is editor round these parts when not writing comics or Cracked columns. You can say a neighborly hello to him on Twitter @BrendanMcGinley.

Brendan interviewed a fitness celebrity in the ongoing Tuesdays with Jen Selter.


She was so brave to spend ten minutes touching the subway platform.

More from Ivan Cohen

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