As I sit with him in
front of Bon Bon Café on Fort Street Mall, a few days
before Valentine’s day, his devilish ways become increasingly
apparent. He looks like a baby, but he is really a grown-up
god with grown-man tendencies.
He suddenly fidgets for an arrow and shoots it at a young man
whose nose is innocently buried in a textbook. He then shoots
another arrow at a woman in a short denim skirt who is walking
by. As fate would have it, their eyes lock for a moment.
Cupid sits back, picks up his cigarette, and takes in a long,
smooth drag. He looks at me, smiles mischievously, and says, “They’ll
go to dinner tonight, and then…who knows?”
He is obsessed by his work, and barely had time for this interview. “I
gotta beat last year’s record of lovesick couples,” he
said, and added, “just makes you sick sometimes.” While
obviously obnoxious, he is an intriguing personality, and with
arrows flying relentlessly through the air we began the interview.
KALAMALAMA: We’ve been quite confused about your name.
Is your real name Cupid or Eros? And where are you from originally?
Cupid: You can trace my origins back to Greek mythology where
my real name is Eros (pronounced air’-ohs). The Romans
adopted me into their mythology and renamed me Cupid. I’ll
have you know that cupido, in Roman, strictly means sexual lust.
That’s unfortunate because it limits the scope of my character.
For some reason, though, Cupid stuck better than Eros. I like
Eros because it suits me better. You know “Eros” sounds
like “arrows,” which is what I shoot at people! Stupid
KALAMALAMA: So are you really the Greek god of love?
Cupid: Oh, honey, I am so much more than love. Officially,
I am the god of love and sexual desire – an irresistible
and potent god. Hesiod’s Theogony describes me as “the
fairest of the deathless gods,” the one who “unstrings
the limbs and subdues both mind and sensible thought in the breasts
of all gods and men.” Isn’t that beautiful? I also
love another passage from Hesiod (keep in mind I am paraphrasing
here), which says that no one, divine or mortal, can resist my
spell of enchantment.
KALAMALAMA: Aside from puffed up, how would you describe yourself?
Cupid: My cute image does not offer a true picture of what
really like. A poetess, Sappho, once called me bittersweet. I
agree with her. I can be cruel to my victims, yet charming and
sweet. Really throws people, you know? But, come on, a baby armed
with a bow and arrows should be warning enough! I love making
mischief, and being a bit dodgy is in my nature. I used to set
out to wound hearts rather than rouse them to love. Then I fell
in love and finally understood anguish.
KALAMALAMA: Tell us a little about your family life.
Cupid: I don’t even know where to begin. By today’s
standards, my family would have made the Jerry Springer show
with flying colors. In Greek mythology, my mother is Aphrodite,
the goddess of love and beauty. We aren’t sure who my father
is, but I have a candidate list that includes Hermes (you may
know him better as Mercury, messenger to the gods), Ares (the
god of war), and Zeus (my mom’s father). Pretty crazy if
Zeus is my father, he’d be gramps and dad at the same time!
My mom tells me I was one of the first gods, along with Gaia
(god of earth) and Tartaurus (god of the underworld), to emerge
from primeval Chaos, which is complete nothingness. I have one
brother named Anteros, which means “returner of love”;
he’s the god of mutual love. My wife, who is an absolute
babe, is named Psyche, which means “soul.”
KALAMALAMA: What do you do for a living?
Cupid: I spend my entire day making people fall in and out
of love. I use my arrows to accomplish this task, just like
uses a pen. I shoot my arrows into the hearts of gods and men
and awaken the desire within them.
KALAMALAMA: Give us some more details about your arrows.
Cupid: I have two sets of arrows. The first is made of golden
arrows with dove feathers which awaken love. The second set is
leaden, with owl feathers, and awakens indifference. My power
and arrows create desire – desire either for or against
KALAMALAMA: You spend most your time toying with other people’s
love lives, but tell us a little about your own love life?
Cupid: The love story of Cupid and Psyche is quite saucy. Once
upon a time, as I was faithfully assisting my mother in her cunning
goddess duties, she became jealous of the beauty of a mortal
woman named Psyche. Out of jealousy, she commanded me to shoot
an arrow into Psyche’s heart that would cause her to fall
in love with the ugliest man on earth. I agreed to my mother’s
request, but when I saw Psyche, I felt as if I was shot by one
of my own arrows. I fell deeply in love with her. Every night
I would visit her. I told her that I must remain invisible to
her, so she wouldn’t light her chamber when I called upon
her in the darkness. (Remember, love between gods and mortals
was not permissible.) One night, however, curiosity overcame
my love, and she lit a lamp while I was sleeping. My identity
as a god was revealed to this mortal woman. I awoke abruptly
when a drop of the lamp’s hot oil fell on me. I was angry
at her, so angry that I left her. For years, she roamed the earth
looking for me, but never found me. All the gods were moved by
Psyche’s unyielding love for me. Zeus eventually permitted
me to marry her and made her a goddess.
KALAMALAMA: What’s with the chubby, cherub look?
Cupid: Oh, would you get off my back about the diapers? I’ve
been hearing it for centuries, and many a culture has questioned
my masculinity because of it. It’s a tough job, but I wear
it well. There is a reason why I look more like a fairy than
a handsome, muscle-drenched god. In some Greek writings, I am
not Aphrodite’s son, but rather one of her inspirations.
As an inspiration, I have assumed the form of a playful, chubby
child with wings who is diffused by the light of the goddess
of beauty. However, I do have the power to manifest as an absolute
hunk, which is how I really looked before the centuries transformed
my image. If I manifested myself right now, in the image of my
younger days, you will be unable to escape the power of my luscious
locks and perfectly sculpted physique. All self-aggrandizement
aside, though, I’ll be the first to admit that my current
physical stature is well suited for my job description. The wings
(quite a nice addition) enable me to get to and fro quickly,
and my small size doesn’t give my presence away as I secretly
KALAMALAMA: What is the best love match you’ve ever made?
Cupid: Oh this is fun! Let’s see, the best love match was
definitely Fred and Wilma Flinstone. Their Stone Age love spanned
centuries to bless us today in cartoon animation. The hands-down
worst love match ever made was J. Lo and Ben Affleck. When I
read their stories in the National Enquirer, I often ask myself, “Why
did I do that?”
Observing him, I could hardly believe that this comical character
is charged with the critical and life-changing task of making
and breaking love. He shoots another arrow at a small-framed
lady who looks like a Myers-Briggs introvert personality type.
He pauses for a second, and then shouts, “I found her match!” I
watched the arrow soar through the air, excited myself to learn
whose heart it would claim. The arrow landed softly on an obviously
Myers-Briggs extrovert male personality type. “She’ll
be dancing on table tops in a week,” he said.
I was just about to tell him how concerned I was that the
course of human love rested in the hands of an arrogant,
god who looks like a chunky toddler, but when I looked up from
my notebook, I saw something glorious. Sea-blue eyes starred
straight into mine. A man with luscious locks and a perfectly
sculpted physique sat across from me, and out of the corner
of my eye, I saw an arrow flying towards me on a one-way