The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Holiday ends with poetry, shopping frenzy, academic theories


From husband-and-wife biology professors to last-minute shoppers at H-E-B, Mesquite reporters interviewed faculty, students and South Side folks about Valentine’s Day as the sun set on the holiday Thursday.

Couple finds symbiosis in love, work

By Eric Lopez

Biology professors Jose Rodolfo Valdez Barillas, Ph.D. and Megan Wise de Valdez, Ph.D. have been wed for 14 years, and they joke that they got married three times.

Their extended families were far-flung, so they had ceremonies in Nebraska and Guatemala after signing their legal marriage document among friends in Colorado.

Valdez, an associate professor, is originally from Guatemala City. Wise de Valdez is the biology program coordinator and also an associate professor.

The couple met on a project in Colorado, they said in an interview in Wise de Valdez’s office. They were trying to pack a van that others had said was already too full. But because both of them were hard-nosed about the task, they worked together to accomplish it.

As they stuffed more gear into the vehicle, Wise de Valdez told Valdez she was “anal” about packing the van. He was still working on English and had to ask her what that meant.

When they arrived at their destination, they clicked and ventured up the mountain, where they got to know each other on the 2-hour trek.

Working together can be challenging. Wise de Valdez said colleagues often expect her to know her husband’s whereabouts.

“it’s frustrating when people come into my office looking for my husband,” she said.

They don’t commute together to campus. This works out well for the couple since it provides time for them to decompress from work.

The professors agreed Valentine’s Day is not very eventful for them.

“We do stuff because we are supposed to,” Wise de Valdez said of the holiday’s obligatory nature.

However, she did buy a book for her husband, “Love Poems (for Married People)” by John Kenney. Their plans were to put the kids to bed, have some wine and read the book together.

Biology professors Megan Wise de Valdez and Rodolfo Valdez Barillas talking on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. They were reminiscing about how they met during a trip. Photo by Deidre Carrillo.
Biology professors Megan Wise de Valdez and Rodolfo Valdez Barillas on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. They were reminiscing about how they met during a trip. Photo by Deidre Carrillo.

Valentine’s Day sparked by … beheading, birds

By Sarah I. de la Fuente

The holiday known as a day to share the love is not all it seems to be, according to a Smithsonian article, “The Gory Origins of Valentine’s Day.”

More than one man named Valentine died on Feb. 14. Historians narrowed it down to the feast day of Valentinus, a third-century holy man in Italy. Persecuted for his Christian faith, he was beheaded by authorities after reportedly curing a child of blindness.

In one version of the story, a Roman aristocrat named Asterius made a bet with Valentinus, a priest: If he could restore the sight of Asterius’s daughter, Asterius would convert to Christianity. Valentinus performed the miracle, and the aristocrat had his family baptized.

The emperor ordered them all to be executed, but only Valentinus was beheaded.

Another version is exactly the same, except Valentinus was a bishop from Umbria who cured a boy.

Either way, the legends do not mention that St. Valentine performed marriages or served as a champion of young lovers.

Fast-forward more than 1,000 years, and the first “Valentine” was scribed by Geoffrey Chaucer, author of “The Canterbury Tales.”

He wrote a poem called “The Parlement of Foules,”which marked St. Valentine’s feast day as a time to celebrate the mating of birds:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day. Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

Europeans liked the idea of sending love notes during bird mating season, and this is how sending Valentine’s Day cards came to be, according to the Smithsonian article.

Kathy Lopez contributed to this story.

Holiday inspires passion for buying

By P.L. Ackroyd

Nowadays, Valentine’s Day has become more about commercialism than courtship, a marketing professor said.

Weixing Ford, assistant professor in the College of Business, teaches MKTG 5362, Applied Buyer Behavior, a course that examines the mindset of consumers and their reasons for buying.

Ford said marketing strategies drive the frenzy of purchasing on Valentine’s Day.

“Marketers’ involvement makes it a big spending day for Americans,” Ford said in a phone interview.

This year, Americans were expected to spend a record $161.96 for Valentine’s Day, according to a survey released Jan. 30 by the National Retail Federation. Consumers increasingly lavish tokens of love on family, friends and co-workers, the NRF said.

Ford said her class discusses specific details for spending decisions — for example, what kind of gifts would be more popular, and how consumers make decisions and balance their budget for what they want to purchase.

Additionally, her class looks at the consumer’s “emotional needs” or “attachment style” that determines how they purchase gifts.

Ford said recent studies focus on how “handmade cosmetics and crafts” show more expression of love involved in choosing the gift and provide more “added premium value” because it is a customized gift.

If Ford were to create her own marketing campaign for Valentine’s Day, she said she would focus on the emotional value of the holiday and place less focus on the monetary factor.

“Marketing is a big force to make this holiday … so commercial; it’s all about spending money, right? Buying jewelry, buying flowers, buying chocolates and buying gifts,” Ford said.

She said she understands how some people succumb to marketing tactics and how “people are pushed to spend on this day.”

Shoppers flock to local stores

By Jesse Eureste, Eddie Gonzales and Saren Robles

At H-E-B Plus on Zarzamora Street and Southwest Military Drive, so many men crowded the floral section that it looked like mice going through a maze.

The store was busy Thursday night. However, there was little merchandise left for last-minute Valentine’s shoppers. Some shelves were empty, and customers had to look hard for that special gift.

Jose Hernandez, 35, said he prefers doing last-minute shopping. On the other hand, Hernandez did mention the challenge of finding the exact gift for his twin daughters.

“I’ve always bought gifts last-minute, only because if I buy gifts for someone that I see every day, it’s kind of hard to hide some of the stuff,” Hernandez said.

Jared Barrett is a native San Antonian and lifelong South Sider. An oilfield worker, he was in a rush at the same H-E-B because he had worked late.

Barrett was shopping for his girlfriend, Angel. As a diesel mechanic, he usually works later than he likes and hadn’t had time to shop for her.

“I bought her flowers, and I’m going to really surprise her by cooking a lasagna dinner for her,” he said. “That will surprise her because I never cook because I usually work late.”

He said he hopes this is the first of many more Valentine’s Days together.

Jacob Martinez, 26, had some roses for his newly wedded wife. Martinez said he completely forgot about the holiday while at work, hence his last-minute shopping.

At the Walmart on Interstate 35 near Palo Alto Road, employee Isaac Sugura said teddy bears and roses were selling out the fastest.

“Everyone is just grabbing and going,” he said.

They included Cynthia Ramos, a stay-at-home mom, who bought Hershey chocolates for her husband, and Alexis Marquez, who was purchasing gifts for her three children.

“There is not much of a selection, but it’s not the store’s fault, because I’m late,” Marquez said.

Steven Castillo bought a teddy bear and a box of chocolates for his girlfriend. Castillo said he has been working every day and did not have time to shop for her.

Employee Robert Delon also bought a teddy bear for his girlfriend, but he purchased it a week ago, “before everything is sold out,” he said.

Valentine’s Day is business as usual on campus

By Jessica Lann and Danielle Lateef

For the most part, night students and employees stuck to their routines on the day designated for romance and love.

“It’s just another Thursday,” said Marina Vasquez, a cashier and cook with Chartwells Dining Services.

Elizabeth Rios, a barista at Jaguar Java, celebrated in her own way.

“I’ve been telling everybody ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ today, even if they’re alone, everyone’s got somebody,” Rios said.

Jaguar Java offered a Valentine’s Day special: a macchiato and cinnamon roll for $6.49.

Recreation sports assistant Justin Barrow said his ethics class was poorly attended Thursday night.

“Basically, half of the class showed up,” Barrow said. “That’s an indication probably a lot of people took off today to do their Valentine’s thing.”

Barrow lives in the dorms but he said there were no Valentine’s Day parties, just small gift exchanges between friends.

Business junior Michelle Cazares and her boyfriend, Luis Allanby, were playing Battleship in the student Game Room, while waiting for Cazares’ next class to begin.

“I’m winning,” Cazares said.

“No, we’re tied,” Allanby said.

They agreed on one thing: “We’re going to go eat afterwards,” Allanby said of their Valentine’s plans.

Luis Allenby and his girlfriend Michelle Cazares on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. They were playing Battleship in the student Game Room, while waiting for Cazares’ next class to begin and their Valentine's dinner planned for later that evening. Photo by Danielle Lateef.
Luis Allenby and his girlfriend Michelle Cazares on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. They were playing Battleship in the student Game Room, while waiting for Cazares’ next class to begin and their Valentine’s dinner planned for later that evening. Photo by Danielle Lateef.

All you need is love — and oxytocin, professor says

By Ashwin Chary and Bryana Garcia

Dr. Sonali Sarkar, a professor in the department of counseling, health and kinesiology, said oxytocin, the love hormone, combines with dopamine to develop the feeling known as love.

Sarkar said love originates in early childhood and develops throughout late childhood.

But she emphasizes the importance of not always romanticizing the holiday.

“Love every human being,” Sarkar said in an interview Thursday, when she teaches EDHL 3333, Growth, Development and Sexuality. “Love and romance is just like any other emotion.”

Sarkar said in the United States, Valentine’s Day is a trendy holiday. Sarkar, originally from India, said the occasion is frowned upon in her country.

Sarkar said young love is applauded and encouraged in the United States, whereas in India it is considered to be rebellious.

Sarkar encourages students to use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express mutual love among everyone.

“What if Valentine’s Day was a worldwide phenomenon that was celebrated?” Sarkar said.

Cupid pierces hearts; local range offers archery

By Amparo R. Polendo

A manager at a nearby gun range and shop said he did not know why Cupid and bows and arrows are considered romantic symbols.

But hunters, archers and aspiring Cupids alike can pay less than $11 to practice their aim at A Place to Shoot on Pleasanton Road.

Sean Parker, on-site manager, said the range has an archery field customers can use for an unlimited amount of time for $10.95 per person.

During the interview around 5:45 p.m. Thursday, there were no archery customers; Parker said there had not been any earlier.

Archery customers visit the facility during the day when lighting is better because the archery fields are not lighted for night use. Customers must bring their own bows and arrows, and only bows that shoot below 300 feet per second are allowed. Parker said compound crossbows are more common nowadays.

Parker said they provide customers with a 1-inch grid target, but most archery customers bring in balloons or their own targets.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Romans deemed Cupid the god of love. He was the son of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and Venus, the goddess of love. He was said to shoot arrows at people mortal and immortal, and their wounds inflicted by his arrows induced a strong sense of love and passion in every victim.

So has Parker ever been hit by Cupid’s arrow?

He smiled, held up his left hand and pointed to his ring.

Kathy Lopez contributed to this story.

Research sheds light on cohabitation

By Sara Guerrero

Amy Bohmann, associate professor of psychology, is working on a research project relating to cohabitation, relationship breakups and optimism.

Bohmann has taught here for 11 years. The origin of her research was in graduate school at Texas Tech University, where one of her professors did research on romantic relationships.

The title of her current project is “Loving, Living Together, and Leaving — Characteristics of Cohabiters and Relationship Breakups.” She is hoping to get her work published in a relationship journal, but doesn’t know which one specifically.

Cohabitation means to live together in a sexual relationship, especially when not legally married. Although the research is not complete, because of an error on a questionnaire, Bohmann and Dr. Jennifer Zwahr-Castro from St. Mary’s University, have gathered surprising information on cohabiters and divorce rates.

Bohmann said cohabiters who eventually marry have a higher divorce rate. She said she believes it’s because the relationships between cohabiters “move too fast” when they’re “pressured to get married.”  Bohmann is unsure when the research will be complete.

Yet, Bohmann believes that cohabiters are “better at conflict and have more opportunities to resolve it.” Usually, cohabiters are extroverts and people who do cohabit are better at conflict and she thinks it’s because “experience is a big thing.”

Also, Valentine’s Day has endured for years and has become a cultural norm in our society to celebrate. Bohmann herself has celebrated Valentine’s Day as a family holiday with her mom and dad. She planned to do so again with them and her child.

“People like it; it’s an excuse to do things with your relationship partner,” Bohmann said, “We created that ourselves, and I hope it keeps going.”






About the Author

Night Beat Team Spring 2019
Eric Lopez, Sarah I. de la Fuente, Kathy Lopez (story contributor), P.L. Ackroyd, Jesse Eureste, Eddie Gonzales, Saren Robles, Jessica Lann, Danielle Lateef, Ashwin Chary, Bryana Garcia, Amparo R. Polendo and Sara Guerrero.

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