Like many rationally thinking men, I am absolutely terrified of Valentine’s Day, this year more than most. My reasons are many, and while I could go as far back as to third grade and the Hong Kong Phooey Valentine incident, for brevity I’ll start a little later.
On Valentine’s Day, 1979, I decided to write Candy a poem.
I was in high school and had developed a deep crush on Candy. She was somewhat plain looking, tall, thin build, short brown hair, thick glasses. I remember how I loved her long slender fingers. I don’t know why I liked them, I just did.
Her parents owned a small arts and crafts store down the street from where I grew up. Many evenings, as she sat behind the counter in the mostly empty store, we’d sit and talk about many profound and meaningful subjects. We spent much time together, talking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. And while I saw her as the love of my life, she saw me more as a little brother. You see, she was a senior, while I was nothing but a lowly freshman.
So, on Valentine’s Day, I decided to write Candy a poem that would put it all out there. I opened an emotional vein and bled such anguished adolescent sentiment that it couldn’t fail.
I stood next to her watching as she read, studying her face for any reaction. At first she looked confused and maybe just a little concerned, but then a huge smile grew across her face. She looked at me straight in the eye and said, “This is really good.” She looked at the poem and then back at me. “Do you think I could use it to give to my boyfriend?”
I eventually recovered from the devastation of that episode, but it has served as a touchstone for Valentine’s Day ever since.
Avoidance has been my coping mechanism of choice when it came to Valentine’s Day. It worked pretty well for a number of years, too. The holiday’s winter placement made the flu a perfect out. An annual bout of bronchitis kept me safe in solitude every 14th of February.
It wasn’t until I started dating Cheri, the girl who would end up being my wife, when I was roped in to – did I begin to celebrate the day. But it was not without a lot of trepidation and a little tragedy.
Valentine’s Day had fallen on a Friday when Cheri was a sophomore at Temple University and I was living down at the Jersey shore. When I got off work at four in the afternoon, I stopped at a florist and spent what little money I had on a dozen roses. I planned to stop home, take a shower, and then head up to
Just before I pulled in my driveway, it started to lightly snow. I gently lay the roses in the trunk and went in. Less than a half hour later, I stepped out of the shower and peered out the window at blizzard conditions. Mother Nature had given me the perfect out when I finally didn’t need one.
Much to Cheri’s chagrin, I called to postpone our Valentine’s date. Being a guy and an economizer of every step, I decided to keep the roses in the trunk. I figured the florist stores them in a cooler, what harm could it do.
The next day, late in the afternoon when the main roads were clear, I drove up to
. I told her how sorry I was that we had missed our first Valentine’s Day together, but, if she would come out to the car with me, I was sure all would be forgiven. Philadelphia
I led her outside and proudly opened the trunk. There we stared at a dozen roses fit for Morticia Addams. They were practically black, wilted, and generally pathetic. Apparently a cooler at a florist is not the same as a subfreezing trunk. I would have told her to forget about the roses, that I was taking her to a romantic restaurant in the city, but I had spent most of my money on the now dilapidated flowers. The best I could offer was some ice cream from the convenience store and maybe some M&Ms to sprinkle on top.
Fortunately, I have improved somewhat when it comes to Valentine’s Day. For instance, I no longer buy super sized boxes of chocolates when just that morning my wife was complaining that her jeans felt a little tight. I double check to make sure I actually sign the card I give her. I also make sure to read the words closely before randomly underlining some to give them emphasis. There is no good answer for why you underlined the word “but.”
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, and I am just a little concerned. Going out the weekend before is too early to really count and the weekend after is too late. Sure, you can say that the date is in lieu of Valentine’s Day, but that will still leave an expectation of something on the actual day. That means we guys must either go out on a Tuesday night – which no working person would wish on his worst enemy – or risk certain emotional annihilation.
The whole situation makes me feel a little feverish. Maybe I’ll luck out and it’ll be the flu.