Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and I am unfazed. For most of my life Valentine’s has meant exactly nothing romantically; however, there was a year (1984 to be exact) when I really let it get to me. Valentine’s rolled around and all the women I knew were talking about it. But the day after Valentine’s reached a crescendo. My newlywed status seemed to generate a lot of interest from other women wanting to hear about my husband, still in the idiot honeymoon stage, manifesting his love in gifts of chocolate, flowers, jewelry and other products marketed to be the zenith of love expressions. But the women were to remain unsatisfied because frankly, nothing of that sort happened. It was just another day at our house.
So my pout started about half way home from work. By the time I walked through the front door, I was pretty frustrated. All those years of never celebrating Valentine’s and now that I had a great guy, I still didn’t get to celebrate it! Never mind that I had never thought about celebrating it. All of a sudden something was wrong with the universe, and I had to ask myself why I wasn’t worth some chocolate and flowers or at least an expensive card. Didn’t he love me enough to do that? I was so hurt, and I worked myself into a real snit by the time he got home. It took him about an hour to figure out what was going on, and then he got mad at me! After getting over the shock, he called me a fraud and asked what happened to the girl he married? The girl who was not like everyone else? My response was to say that she was a woman, so why was he so surprised? I just dug in my heels and let him know that I wasn’t settling for less than other women got. I’ll never forget the stunned look on his face. It really shook him up that I had such a visceral reaction, but he dropped it.
We went to bed mad that night and didn’t talk about it again. February ended and the first two weeks of March came around. I was eating lunch in my office when I got a call from the receptionist in the main lobby. “You need to come down here!” she said. Even a couple of my co-workers coming back from lunch had mentioned something unusual in the lobby. I was so busy that day I didn’t really pay attention to them. But as soon as I rounded the corner from the elevator bank on the ground floor, I could see what all the fuss was about. There in a gargantuan vase were five dozen roses. The thing was almost as tall as I am. It was absurd. As I got nearer to it, everything seemed to slow down. There was a kind of buzzing in my ears, and I don’t remember the receptionist saying anything. She just grinned (along with others standing there) and pushed the vase toward me. I hoisted it up and kind of held it in front of my face as I made my way back to my office. I thought for a moment about taking the stairs so I didn’t have to run into anyone. Since it was quite a few floors up, I realized I wasn’t that embarrassed. Somehow I made it back to the office without being stopped, and I shut the door and fished out the card to see who it was from. No, I did not know. Then I read the words, “Why does it have to be February?”
I’ll never forget laughing. I’m laughing as I write this. Those words flowed over me and reminded me why I am so in love with my husband. He is clever. Oh, is he clever. Even more than that, he is sincere. No marketer can sell this. It is priceless. I am so cynical, and even was at that young age, that I would have never believed my husband if he had celebrated Valentine’s. I would have chalked it off to obligation. My husband was clever enough to realize that and not succumb to its power, and I have long since gotten over my succumbing. But it really did make me miserable for a few weeks, and this was in the face of my husband often expressing how he feels about me. He has written me love letters and poems and taken me on trips and sat and listened to me and just generally been a great guy, and that started before Valentine’s 1984. And yes on occasion he’s given me flowers and candy. But never on Valentine’s.
I respect him so much for flouting the marketers — for smashing those false notions of love to hell. I have thought often about the power it had over me and what it produced, and I hope I never forget that it was hollow. So here I sit on the 15th. Glad to have something much more important.
Now if we could just break the power of Mother’s Day.