Friday, February 14, 2014
Bah, Humbug! Yeah, I know...wrong holiday, but I don't know what to substitute for the frustration I feel on this day that the florists, the candy makers, and the card companies salivate. And is there any possible way to not take a little bit of a guilt trip on this day? I mean, some guys really weird out on Valentine's Day. They get into the jewelry thing. They buy clothes and shoes. And dozens of roses all the colors of the rainbow. Candlelight dinners with wine, cheese, and chocolate. Please! You're just making it tough for us fellows entering the codger stage of life.
Look, I probably have a romantic bone or two left after all these years, but, with my wife I've got this six week trifecta thing going on. Christmas, birthday, and Valentine's Day within 50 days of each other. That's overload, folks. You know it is! I don't get to go on just a guilt trip...I get a guilt sabbatical. A guilt extravaganza. Thank goodness that this holiday pretty much marks the end of all the winter darkness festivals. All the events of frivolity and cheer that attempt to overcome eight hours of daylight and sixteen hours of dark. All the Hallmark moments can go to the back of the shelves and we can devote our time to doing something other than pretending to be having a good time in the middle of a cold, dark winter.
I remember other days and other feelings. Shoeboxes covered in wrapping paper with a slit cut in the top. Carry them to school and set them along the windowsills with everybody else's shoeboxes. Slip around during recess and lunch and pop your valentines in the appropriate shoebox. The valentines that you carefully chose and prepared at the kitchen table the night before, under the watchful eye of your mother. Picking out the neutral emotion ones for your guy friends ("Hey, hope your Valentine's Day is full of baseball bats and dirty socks") to ones for the girls that you like but don't love yet (Happy Valentine's Day to a cute girl with a nice smile!") to those one or two or three special ones that said a little more than you were normally comfortable with ("In case you didn't notice, you're the Valentine of my Heart!"). You could drop a couple of little colored candy hearts in those envelopes, and, if you played your cards right, between the valentine and the message on the candy, you could get your point across.
The tough part was coming home with your shoebox full of cards and seeing if the emotions matched. Did your secret flame give you a valentine that matched the depth of your love for her or did she go with the generic (An elephant saying, "You're a ton of fun, Valentine!")? Did one of the nice but not really all that cute girls go a little over the top and put you in an awkward position for the next day ( A girl in a robber's mask saying, "Valentine, you've stolen my heart. Can I steal yours?") Or, worst case scenario, did you totally bomb out and get shown no love at all? Nothing special. No candy hearts. Everything generic...no chance of being able to read anything halfway romantic between the lines. And having about eight repeats of the same crappy card ("A Valentine wish for you.").
But, not to worry. We were resilient back in those days. Just hang in for another few weeks and it's summer vacation and before you know it girls get shoved down to about fifth in line of what's deemed important, behind baseball, bicycles, the municipal pool, and your pet dog.
So that's what I'll keep in mind today. I'll put up with all of the Facebook pictures of delivered roses, the posts wishing everyone a happy day, and the occasional news of something spectacular like a new ring or bracelet (or God forbid, an engagement!), and then we'll ease on out of February, into March, and, before we know it, the guilt sabbatical will be behind me, and things will be back to normal. Everything will be hunky dory and the mature approach I chose to take this day - what's the big deal, it's just another day - will turn out to be the right approach. Sensible, wise, and just damn near perfect.
Won't it, honey?