I don’t think I’m alone. Most men profess at least a mild disdain for it, as well as quite a few women I know. My main beef is that it’s a holiday of forced emotion. Every 1-800-flowers ad, every Kay Jeweler’s commercial screams at us – “You will show your Significant Other love this day and it damn well better be special.”
I don’t do well with that. I see that bar and instead of seeing the challenge in the moment, I just get tired. I know I can’t clear it, so I usually crawl under it.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Valentine’s Day on the horizon and immediately started looking for a way out. I took out the Cancer Card, shined it up real pretty and started laying in the basic groundwork for a nice dry cough. I figured if I could build up an illness by say, February11th… no way I could be expected to pull off a fantastic Valentine’s Day celebration.
But there’s an art to faking illness, even for a cancer guy like me. You have to think small and you have to start slow. You see, if you go to phlegm right away, then someone’s going to demand you go on antibiotics and then your cover is blown. So, just as I was working this out in my head, my wife comes to me and says not to worry about Valentine’s Day, she’s got it covered.
She got together with a couple of friends and decided to throw a little Valentine’s Day dinner party. Three couples, beef tenderloin, red cocktails, the works. My buddies and I were off the hook. Buy some flowers and show up in a nice sweater.
It was a great night. The red drinks were appropriately red, the beef medium rare and the flowerless chocolate cake was trimmed with red hearts. The highlight of dinner was when my wife decided we should play a “Newlywed” type game where you predict how your spouse would answer a question. Somehow in the writing of these questions things got overly complicated.
“What would you say that your spouse would say that you believe would be their best features according to you?”
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t tell which one of the nine people mentioned in that sentence was supposed to answer.
After dinner we found ourselves out by the fire pit and as is often the case after several bottles of cheap rose we started talking politics. Usually, not something I recommend in polite company, much less fueled by cheap rose and flowerless chocolate cake, but for a while we did great.
I think the key was having a healthy cross-section of political viewpoints. We had one Democrat, three Republicans, one Libertarian and one guy who considers himself from the radical faction of the Whig Party. We talked Obama, Osama, cyber threats, Clinton, Bush, Kennedy’s mistress… we hit all the high points and just as we were revving up to go deep into the night… my Whig friend wondered aloud when America was finally going to get past this whole “women’s suffrage fad.”
Not surprisingly the party broke up shortly after that and I believe you can still find him wandering the streets of La Canada mumbling to himself. But again, I would say any Valentine’s Day party that ends in only one failed marriage is a roaring success.
Thirty-two years ago I met Kate Walther at James Madison University. My friend was dating her roommate so we ran into each other a lot. I thought it would be funny to send a cute girl I barely knew a Valentine. A Valentine that suggested we skip the whole Valentine nonsense and just get married. Thank God… she laughed.
Three months later, I took her to “The Muppet Movie” and we made out.
As we cleaned up the kitchen last night, it occurred to me that my wife has been staring down that pressure filled Valentine’s Day bar for thirty-two years and clearing it with ease every time.
Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad. Hell, maybe it’s my favorite holiday after all.