Every year around this time, when the stores are filled with crimson boxes of heart shaped candy, pastel cut out cupids float chubbily in windows along the street and television is riddled with commercials of men with wind tunnel tested hair, gifting their wives with heart shaped necklaces and diamond encrusted bracelets just because it’s Valentines Day much to their better half’s chest clutching, panty dropping delight, I’m sorely reminded of how this completely stupid holiday almost derailed my marriage and ended in a bloody massacre of two innocent children, three dogs, a cat and my husband.
This all started when my husband proposed to me a year prior, on Valentines Day, thus posturing the holiday into an annual reminder of how much he loved me, and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. It was a natural assumption, that after such a life altering Valentines Day, that every Valentines Day after would be exceeded in romance and excitement….this may have been one of the dumbest ideas that I have ever had in the history of my life.
With a flair for the dramatic, I enjoy planning events and parties with a fiendish glee that might frighten and disturb ordinary people, however the results of this fetish cannot be denied since invitations to my parties as well as the treats and adventures which I lavish on my husband are a coveted item among our circle of friends. It was with great joy and meticulous detail that I put together the perfect day, since his teenaged children were staying with us for the weekend, I happily planned a fun family day at the aquarium, with gifts for my husband and his son and daughter, thinking that he would have been so undoubtedly focused on my Valentines gift, that his love and adoration of me completely phazed out the fact that his children would be left to look on dolefully as he showered me with flowers and diamonds and chocolates and hand written poems pledging his undying love….I was at this time completely dillusional, I see that now.
The ill fated weekend arrived and began without any indication of what was to come. The kids happily buzzed around the house, eyeing the gift bags in the dining room, asking coy little questions about what we were doing the next day, my husband, craftily ignored the dining room table completely, not even raising an eyebrow at the large red-wrapped box with his name written on the tag, I kept thinking how lucky I was to have married such a clever man, he was going to keep me guessing until the very last second! I honestly couldn’t wait…
The day had finally arrived, and at breakfast we announced that we were going to the aquarium along with everyone else in a three hundred mile radius that had the same stupid idea. The kids were completely elated, and as we trudged through a throng of mouth breathing morons with screaming kids and pushy camera jockies, I barely even minded since my little family was having such a great time while I carried all of their crap and coats like a burro in Uggs.
We panned for gold, touched the sea-rays and took at least five thousand pictures, one thousand, eight hundred and sixty three of which were blocked out by my 13 year old son’s thumb. A liesurely lunch was had after a cruise through the gift shop where stuffed sharks and blindingly annoying light up key-chains shaped like dolphins were purchased. Upon our arrival at home we watched movies and ate pop-corn, I made a fried chicken dinner from scratch with death by chocolate cake for dessert.
As we sat looking on the disaster that was our dinner table, the kids and my husband tore into their gifts happily, my husband was besotted with the Nerf Semi-Automatic Gattling Gun I had given him, my son elated by his Nerf Pistols and candy, and my daughter tickled pink by the handbag she unwrapped. They all said, “Thank you” and quickly vacated the area…leaving me to clean up the remains of dinner and the tattered shreds of pink wrapping paper with hearts on it.
As I began to clear the table and put the house to rights, I waited patiently for him to walk into the kitchen surprise me with a gift, or thinking he might be sneaky, just wait until I wasn’t looking and put a dozen red roses on the table with a card, I waited, and waited….if I wanted to wait any longer in the kitchen while still looking busily unaware, I was going to have to start scrubbing the walls…..still unable to even fathom that he had forgotten, OR WORSE, that he didn’t care….I hypothesized that maybe his gift for me was not appropriate for everyone in the house, and it was waiting up in our bedroom. Thinking I had it figured out, I bounded up the stairs two at a time and pounced into our room, only to find the overweight cat lounging as contenedly as a Roman statesman might in the middle of the bed…….
It was in that moment, staring into her green glittering eyes surrounded by her velevety fatness, reality hit me like an overweight cat, he didn’t do ANYTHING for Valentines Day…..he didn’t buy me flowers, he didn’t bring me a card….he didn’t even pick up a crappy box of candy…NOTHING, and here I was, exhausted, broke, with one thousand, eight hundred and sixty three pictures to delete from our camera, reeking of fried chicken with a bag of torn wrapping paper with hearts on it waiting by the door to be taken out…..I hated everyone in that moment, and sensing the imminent peril, my cat slunk pudgily from the bed and headed for higher ground.
As I stalked downstairs I kept telling myself I was not going to be that woman, I was not going to trasform into that soul-eating harpie shrieking at her husband in front of the kids, demanding to know if he loves her or not.
I stood in the door of our family room taking in the cheery scene, my husband sprawled across one end of the sofa, eyes glazed from fried chicken and chocolate staring at the television as our son played a video game while he sat on the floor, the dogs curled around him happily…our daughter nodding off in the corner of the sofa under my quilt from college, I almost hated to ruin it.
Sensing the rage, the dogs became restless, and shifted from their places on the floor to a tactically more safe spot behind the coffee table, my husband looked at me and smiled, why wouldn’t he? His wife just bent over backward to show them all how much she loved them and what did they have to do? NOTHING, not a fucking thing, not even the dishes…lovely…I stared at him while raw hatred roiled through my veins…the room went dark and all I saw was HIM, the man that asked me to marry him a year ago is just going to lay there like nothing is wrong… he raised an inquisitive brow at me, probably because his skin was starting to scortch and I realized that he actually had no idea that he had completely crushed my soul and ripped my heart out of my ass, he was oblivious to it, after everything I had done, the signifigance of the day was a complete mystery to him, last year was done, this was now and he was full and tired….
I weighed my options carefully, I could unleash hell upon this idyllic family moment, emotionally scar my children, scare the hell out of the dogs and ensure that my husband would NEVER forget the signifigance of this day ever again…but any gifts or kindness he gave me would be motivated out of fear of another tantrum and his desire to just get through the day with as little trouble as possible, and who wants attention like that?
I could take a page from the late and great Sug, my grandmother, who had the stones to do forty nine years with the most frightening bastard the Scottish race had produced since Rob Roy. I recalled her favorite phrase to use in such situations, and it seems for lack of a better term, I was in love with it.
He must have been getting worried by now, I don’t know how long I was standing there considering my options but he asked, “Is something wrong?” to which I replied, “Yes” looking concerned he quickly sat up and asked, “What?” and in a moment I will be proud of until the day I die, I smartly replied, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” and with that I marched upstairs, drew a bubble bath and grabbed a bottle of wine. It was a quiet Sunday morning before he drove the kids home, alone…but when he came back, he had flowers, a card and said that he loved me, which I guess is all I really wanted anyway.
Now every year, he makes it a point to ask me what I want to do for Valentines Day, and what I would like…and while it may not be in keeping with the nauseating bilge the jewelry companys throw at us or as exciting as that first Valentines Day was, I know that he loves me, that he cares and exactly what I’ll be receiving…it’s not terribly romantic, but it’s real, and that’s all any girl could ask for.