Kevin Van Aelst, The Heart, 2009
Here’s my story about Valentine’s Day, but first, a little back story to set the scene. So, I’ve been doing a bit of writing over that past two years – actually a bit more than normal. In fact, I started writing and keeping journals when I met my future bride to be. That was in ninety-three. For those of you having trouble, a quick math exercise brings us up to twenty – twenty wonderful years with the same woman. It’s not an easy thing to do – you know – being married. Relationships take work – and most of the work tends to be on my end. My wife is easy to live with – I’m the one who brings the drama.
I used to write in a journal every day when we first met. This was well before the advent of Facebook, email and text messaging. When we would get together, she would read what was going on in my life during any given week. Some people forget that there was a time in the past that used to be like this. So for those of you reading this that are smirking at the fact that I was writing in journals – well – most of you are doing in now – that is – those of you who type something every day in Facebook, Twitter or on a blog. Those are the virtual journals of the now generation.
My journals were packed with poems and stories, pictures that I drew, pictures and comics from magazines that I glued in, and photographs of us. Yeah, I was a real sap…but I was also creating memories and those are important to me. Come to think of it…I’m still a sap. Other people created memories back then too buy sticking photographs in photo albums. I’m guilty of doing that, however, with the amount of photographs that I used to take, being a photographer and all, most ended up in boxes.
I asked my wife if she wanted to go out this year on Valentine’s Day. Her response, “No, there are too many shmoopies out.” When you have been together for close to twenty (gulp) years, you should know each other by now – know what the other is thinking (for the most part) and what they really want.
They don’t want store-bought valentines. You know what I’m talking about…they come in many shapes and sizes. I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the popular ones. There are the trademark flowers, of course: roses and carnations et al. Red, pink, yellow, white – they’re all the same thing. In February the florists mark them up and there are a lot of suckers out there who will drop a mint on a few dozen just to get their heart broken a few weeks later. I know some of you have bought the little teddy bears on special at CVS, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates from whatever bon-bon shop you fancy, and let’s not forget those lovely little numbers that are silky and lacy and can be purchased at a place that prides itself for offering the best secrets, stolen from a girl named Victoria, right? It’s the same shit every year. My valentine doesn’t want more of the same. She wants originality and fine execution, pretend like Ed McMahon is judging you on Star Search – right? That’s what she wants.
Then comes the agony of dinner reservations, and if you can’t get reservations at her favorite place, well then, call it a night, or start your Plan B. Reservations are a bitch to get on Valentine’s Day. Since her favorite restaurant is booked up solid months before, and remember she told you this a while ago, you try to be slick and pull some last-minute reservation out your ass at some place that neither of you have been to. After waiting in line in the vestibule freezing your ass off for over two hours, you finally get seated around eleven pm, your date’s irate, the service blows and they still swipe your credit card for one hundred and fifty cause it’s a prix fixe menu. The night ends in a fight and no one gets any nookie. I know this, because it’s happened to me before. In hindsight, the safer play would’ve been to give her that card with Charlie Brown on it with the tag line, ‘Be Mine’. Worst-case scenario would be your ‘Lucy’ pulling the old football trick on you.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to indulge your lady friend, lover, partner, significant other or your wife with these store bought icons of love that they don’t really need and often times don’t want, because let’s not kid ourselves – most of the times the gifts are for us. You don’t have to wine and dine them at the trendiest restaurant with the hottest chef from Europe either. What they really want, what they really deserve, is a moment of true love, honest praise and a whisper of sweet something’s in their ears. Sweet nothings are what they expect from us. Let’s surprise them this year. Let’s offer them something that they least expect. Let’s flip the script! Let’s make them dinner, rather than going out. Let’s do the dishes and clean up afterwards – “Hey honey, it’s Palmolive and I’m soaking in it!” Let’s do the laundry and put away the clothes so they don’t have to lift a finger but make sure you lay out their favorite pair of flannel pajama bottoms on the bed next to their pillow, okay? Let’s offer to be at their beck and call – even if it’s just for one day. Let’s make sure that our valentine is so happy that they brag about us tomorrow to their friends on Facebook! Wouldn’t that be awesome?
If your lady friend is anything like mine, maybe she just wants you out of her hair for the afternoon so that she can relax in peace. I can hear her already, “Jason, go phone a friend.” And if that’s what she wants, then my queen, I shall obey.
If tomorrow comes, I will have survived another Valentine’s Day, and another year without being in the doghouse. Just don’t forget to tell your special someone ‘I Love You’. That’s very important!
~ Jason Landry
February 14, 2013