One of the benefits of being married is that you always have a valentine on February 14. The irony is that many long-married couples ignore the day completely. Restaurants are packed and charge diners top dollar; price-gouging is rampant for flowers, cards, and candy; and forced romance is, well, forced. It’s a relief to have a permanent valentine because it eliminates the pressure that singles experience.
For instance, back when my husband and I first started dating, he went to a friend’s house to watch a football game with a bunch of guys. The sister of the host announced that she made homemade chocolates; she then proceeded to guilt all of the guys into ordering her very expensive candy. So, months later, on Valentine’s Day, my husband took me to the movies. While we drove there, he handed me the box of candy. Each piece was a work of art. When we got to the theater, he gallantly opened my door. As I got out of the car, I forgot that I had the box of chocolates in my lap. The box fell to the ground and the handmade chocolates scattered all over the parking lot. I was horrified. My husband was appalled that he had been robbed by his friend’s sister only to have his clumsy girlfriend ruin his gift. I haven’t gotten handmade chocolates since.
This reminds me of another story about presents given by a love-addled guy to his girlfriend. Years ago, I had a Saturday job in the circulation department of a local newspaper. I worked with other women, counting money and answering phone calls from disgruntled subscribers. Our office was separate from the newsroom. While I only worked on Saturdays, the other employees worked full-time and took turns working on Saturdays. On one occasion, I was working with a young woman whose desktop was overflowing with cards, small stuffed animals, and flowers. One of the columnists walked through our office on his way to the newsroom. When he saw her desk, he asked, “Are all of those gifts from your boyfriend?” She said that they were. He then asked, “Is he in the service?” She shook her head and said, “No, he’s in jail.” That flustered the writer, who smiled and made a quick getaway. We all thought that this was hilarious. Later, one of the women pulled me aside and said, “I wonder what he would have done if he learned that her boyfriend was actually her half-brother?” True story. Honest to God.
While that story has absolutely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, it had to be told. But, back to today. My husband and I are going to a Mardi Gras party tonight. I was thinking of taking heart-shaped cookies to the party, as a nod to the holiday. That’s about the extent of our celebration of the day. However, tomorrow, when all heart-shaped boxes of candy are 75% off, that’s when we’ll celebrate. Married couples know that love isn’t restricted to a specific day, and we’re patient enough to wait for markdowns.