I liken myself to the kind of person who seeks out and appreciates those unique, artsy fartsy gifts that symbolize love and a lot of thinking outside the box (minus the cheese factor), such as:
- A chia pet that's a grassy replica of a heart-thumping aorta, paired with a bottle of CoEnzyme Q10 (translation: "I wish you and I a long life together, filled with good health and prosperity, with a few double cheeseburgers and milkshakes in between")
- An Etsy throw pillow embroidered with both our silhouettes (translation: "May I share my life - and pillow - with you my darling?", "Your profile is so impeccable, I chose to have it emblazened for all eternity on a pillow" and "I very much appreciate your fine love of throw pillow shopping at Homegoods and I too agree that yes, it very well could be both a practical hobby and an art form (despite the fact that we already have 12 throw pillows for one couch), and am VERY MUCH SO looking forward to each of your next 976 throw pillow purchases and would never, ever in a million light years calculate the grand total you've spent on them to date. Never.") BONUS: an accompanying Homegoods gift card will earn you a million gazillion extra brownie points here.
- A knit-it-yourself "snood dog" neck scarf from hip underground knitting retailer Wool and the Gang. It not only minimizes both neck flubbage and age spots but also boosts confidence by teaching you how to knit. Yes, KNIT. I mean, this thing is like a neck Snuggie for the cool, emo art college set, and yet the best part is, you don't even need to be from New York OR have a retro glasses and half of a pseudo art degree to justify wearing it.
- One of these ultra cool sound images that details the physical, audible design of my hubby's voice saying "I love you, sweetie", framed forever in canvas. (Hint: match the throw pillows and she'll be forever emotionally indebted to you for thinking all big-picture-like.)
With that said, you'd think I would gravitate to a fellow, romantic creative thinker who would at LEAST do something that falls in the cracks between 1 and 4 above. And I'm talking small cracks, like maybe a potted good-luck bamboo shoot, or a photo of the two of us in a wooden frame handmade from twigs found in the backyard.
But, alas. What did my husband do for Valentine's Day 2009?
Yup. SCRATCH TICKETS.
And no, there was no accompanying card with a red heart-shaped mouth on the front singing off-key digitized cliche songs like Come on Baby Light My Fire.
Again, I like to think that I DON'T need to be handed a dozen red roses, nevermind anything even remotely close to the aforementioned unique romantic gift giver list, to feel good about the love in my life, but as one would expect, I, a woman who has a tendency to take 3 birth control pills in a day to make up for forgetfulnes, crumbled under the grave weight of the situation and started bawling.
And yes, I was secretly embarrassed not only for my own display of a birth-control-pill enhanced hormonal reaction but for the sheer lack of thoughlessness and last-minuteness of the gesture. I mean, did he just happen to be at the convenience store buying a diet coke and some Rolos when he saw the glimmering roll of scratch tickets and thought to himself, "My wife would LOVE if I got her these today for Valentine's Day." I mean, what gives? And this man, my loving, wonderful husband, is the kind of guy who's on the ball more often than not in this department.
So, what did I do? Well, like the rest of the 9 billion and one women in the world out there, I tried to summon the strength to avoid falling apart just because I didn't get a Hallmark card and red roses. I tried to avoid being all how-to-lose-a-guy-in-10-days-ish by smiling at first, trying to laugh it off. I'm strong, I'm confident. I don't need no stinkin' roses to feel good about myself.
But, then the tears came and I couldn't stop the faucet.
He felt so bad about it he had to remove himself from the situation and said he was going to "go take a shower". (Ahem: abandoning your emotionally fragile wife on Valentine's Day MID-bawl - after NOT giving said wife roses nor a card - to go "take a shower" is NOT a good idea.) I heard the shower running - but he later admitted he did NOT take a shower. Instead, he wrangled his 270 lb. body out the first floor window and booked it to the local (translation: exceptionally overpriced) florist around the corner. After "getting out of the shower", he found me blabbering and soaked in my own tears, still heated that he had the audacity and the nerve to give me scratchies (all losers, BTW) ...but to my surprise, he emerged not only with a big grin, but with a huge bouquet of the most bountiful red roses I've ever seen, and said, "Now did you REALLY think I'd just get you scratch tickets for Valentine's Day?"
I thought this was just the most wonderful thing in the world, until a year later he admitted to me what he really did - what had really gone down in the "shower" - and once he told me, I got mad at him and cried. AGAIN.
I know, I know. The poor guy. And my poor, soaring, helpless levels of irrational estrogen. Good thing we can now laugh about it. Always the optimist, here is how I view it: the remaining 65 Valentine's Days that I will come to experience in my lifetime will NEVER, ever have as good of an attempt at a love story as this, so I think this humorous moment, in and of itself - of a man succumbing to a the wrath of a woman's fierce expectations on Valentine's Day - is the best gift he could ever bestow on me. After all, this is the stuff of life, the moments we remember. It's not really about the romantic show on Valentine's Day, it's about the love you LIVE together every other day of the year: the experience, the memories, and the silly stuff that we can look back on and laugh at. When I'm 80, there's not a chance in hell that I'll have forgotten this story. I'd much rather be laughing about this with my decrepit husband by my side than, say, the way I felt wearing that stupid lingerie right before I got in the heart-shaped tub full of bubble bath. Not that that ever happened, but I'm sure that's how a gazillion other people out there are planning to celebrate tonight. Who wants to reminsce about that sort of thing when you're all Joan Rivers meets the nursing home, anyway? No thanks. I'd rather laugh about a ridiculous misstep at the expense of my husband - WITH my husband.
Valentine's Day, while it may seem like the pinnacle of public romance and affection with its braggart 1-800-Flowers deliveries strewn about in every cubicle from Maryland to Miami, is really just a convenient distraction, in a dull month that no one likes, that we've all been groomed to participate in, starting with the confectionary hearts and the Carebears Valentine's Day cards that circulated the classroom in first grade. And so when you actually find love, and this build up of 20+ years of expectation and anticipation is met with such blatant disappointment, it feels like defeat, like a big fat balloon exploded in your heart. But, what we all need to remember (now that we're adults) is that we really shouldn't be counting grand romantic gestures like this at all. We shouldn't be showing off, just for the sake of a silly little holiday. What's important is that we live every day like it's Valentine's Day, doing small favors for each other, helping out, giving little kisses, with lots of laughs, fist bumps and "I love yous". Right?
But, ironically, it really doesn't hurt to get a dozen roses and a card in the end, if you must...which is what I fully expect to come home to tonight, dear husband.
(These are what I like to call "Smart Roses".)