The Tale of the Valentine’s Day Leopard

While riding in the backseat of our station wagon, my sister (then 6) and I (then 10), asked our parents a deeply philosophical question about St. Valentine’s Day and love.

“If here’s an Easter bunny and reindeer and Santa at Christmas, what animal leaves us gifts on Valentine’s Day?”

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Every year we got a couple little chocolate hearts and a book or some other small gift.

“Cupid, I suppose,” Mom quickly answered.

“Flying naked babies with archery sets can’t carry around that much chocolate and presents,” my sister and I reasoned.

Without skipping a beat, Dad exclaimed, “You mean to tell me you’ve never heard of the Valentine’s Leopard?”

My sister and I looked at each other cautiously. “No.”

“What type of cultural vacuum have you been growing up in?” he asked. As my sister and I began grilling him for details…for which he seemed to be stalling for time to deliver…we arrived at our destination. “Oh, look we’re here. I’ll tell you about the leopard later.”

The following was the Valentine we received that year, and it hasn’t been topped, yet. Please note, for future reference, the name Louis is pronounced “Louie.”

The Valentine’s Day Leopard
by Art Cerf
All Rights Reserved

Louis, The Valentine Leopard,
the first to make it real big;
bigger than Waldorf the Valentine Warthog,
or Cleavis, The Valentine Pig.

For rooting around to find love in the ground
is just not romantic, because
Love is a thing that takes cunning and skill
and occasionally, razor-sharp claws.

For love is not dainty and covered in flowers
and baubles and bangles and rings.
It’s covered with nettles and suckers and thorns
and vipers that coil and sting.

To break through that jungle of worry and doubt
is what we all dream of.
And to guide us along, we need help big and strong.
Like Louis, The Leopard of Love.

Now Wellington Wesley Van Williams
(Let’s call him Wally for short.)
did constantly grieve and wear his heart on his sleeve
for Ms. Annibelle Pinkerton Tort.

For Annibelle was quite the beauty,
Yes, Annibelle was quite a catch;
And the thought of actually meeting her,
Made Wally think he would retch.

He had no idea that Annibelle, too,
was attracted to this dear lomax.
But she’d rather die than to look in his eye,
and confess it–they were both flumoxed.

One Valentine Night, when the moon was just right,
they each went out walking alone.
In the still of the air, they heard something rare,
the sound of a wild beast’s moan.

For Louis had not eaten well that week,
Just Cheetos and nachos and beer;
What he needed was meat, when he smelled something sweet
and better than that, it was near!

In no time at all, he saw Annibelle;
Her rare beauty gave him a start;
He sprang for her aorta but missed kinda–sorta
and instead ripped open her heart.

When Wally stepped into the picture,
He froze, knowing not what to do.
Louis let fly with his claws again,
and soon he had Wally’s heart, too.

“Which one should I eat? Which one should I eat?”
Louis pondered and pondered it through.
“Her’s is small, tender and fatty;
His is all muscle and blue.”

As the leopard did ponder, his mind it did wander
as to which one would certainly taste best.
Then out of his mouth, Annibelle’s heart headed south
smack into old Wally’s chest.

The cat’s jaws flew open, apparently hopin’
To regain the now fallen ticker,
And as he looked down, there, too, on the ground
Wally’s heart tumbled out, only quicker.

And wouldn’t you know it, as once said the poet,
It landed in Annibelle’s vest
And their love, once forbidden, was no longer hidden,
‘Though their clothes were a terrible mess.

As each awoke, the words they did choke
“My heart now belongs to you.”
And love, it did flower, as hour after hour,
they sewed up each other, too.

And Louis, though achin’, was certainly shaken
to see what two young hearts could do,
So he left them alone, and walked quickly home
and ordered some pizza and stew.

So all of you Valentine’s lovers,
May your days always be blessed.
And while out for a walk in the moonlight,
always cover your chest.

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