Remember How You Used to Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

My first Valentine’s Day  involved a second-grade class and a sheet of perforated Valentines.  We had to give them out to every other kid in the class, and I’m pretty sure I gave them out to the boys as well as the girls, and signed “Love, Mark” at the bottom of each one.  Even in the midst of Freud’s latency period I felt a vague uneasiness, but did not see how I could discriminate.

My phrase of choice that year was “Holy Baloney,” which I said every time the teacher told me I answered something wrong, or assigned another project involving construction paper and paste.  One girl in my class laughed out loud every time I said it, and on her Valentine to me wrote “Holy Bologna” just above the salutation.  I was touched by the thought, and figured that I could accept her even if she did not know how to spell.

Valentine’s Day was so simple in the second grade.  No flowers, no dinner reservations.  I even think my mother bought the sheet of perforated Valentines, and instead of chocolates we snacked on those little hard and powdery candy hearts that said “Be Mine,”  “I Luv You,” and  “We Need to Talk About Your Choice of School Bag.”

But Valentine’s Day was not always this romantic.  There were many a year where Valentine’s Day was spent seeing how many beers I could drink before the pile of dirty laundry in the corner of my bedroom looked like a work of modern art.  If was lucky, there would be a friend who was also single, and we would go to the local dive and watch ESPN with the sound off, hoping that with each round we’d forget our loneliness and be able to read Mike Krzyzewski’s lips as he yelled at his players and, sometimes, the referees.

And then one Valentine’s Day I proposed to my now-wife, and my perception of this day of flowers and chocolate changed forever.  I don’t see Valentine’s Day as an obligation.  I see it as an opportunity.  For 364 days of the year (or 365 days in a leap year, like this one), I sit in my house and look at my wife and think to myself, “She’s so beautiful and wonderful.  I’m such a lucky man.  I wonder what she’s annoyed at me for this time.”

I wish there were answers in the back of the book, or a teacher’s edition, but there are not.  I have to make educated guesses of how to make my soul mate view me as less of a parasite who watches football.  Could it be the glass I left on the kitchen counter instead of putting it in the dishwasher?  Could it be that bowl with four floating Cheerios that I left in the sink instead of washing out and putting in the dishwasher?  Could it be that pair of dirty socks that I left on her laptop instead of washing them out and putting them in the dishwasher?  The greatest fear in any relationship is the fear of the unknown, and for a marriage that fear is codified in statute.

But for one day a year I am relieved of that fear, and handed a game plan with three simple steps: bouquet of roses, reservations at a nice restaurant, and then…you know…HGTV.  It is as simple as snap, crackle and pop.  My grandfather used to say that problems that can be solved with money alone are the kind of problems you want to have.  I’m sure that he had Valentine’s Day in mind when he said that.

So fellow husbands and boyfriends, my brethren in arms and credit cards, do not fear Valentine’s Day, but embrace it and its obligations with gusto, and be thankful that for one day you get to enjoy the greatest pleasure you can enjoy in a relationship: not having to think.

And to the ranks of the single who complain that there is no single person’s day, I respond: every day is single person’s day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, especially to the students of Mrs. P’s second grade class.  I meant what I wrote on those perforated cards.

22 thoughts on “Remember How You Used to Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

      1. Miserable and boringly ‘apart’. I’m sure you’ll to that! I’m in Barcelona right now for the global telecoms congress. No time to be miserable and apart here, I can assure you. But it means I can’t get my blog done!

  1. I am a bit baffled by the socks on that computer that need to be in the dishwasher…. If only other men could see the world like you then women like me wouldn’t know the pain of having red welts for valentines day. Thankfully this year is the first year in over 20 years I know what it’s like to have and feel loved. It’s an odd feeling right now but I welcome and embrace it.

    1. If you think you’re baffled, imagine what my wife thought 🙂 I can’t imagine there’s many people who see the world the same way I do, for better or for worse. But I’m so happy, Kristine, that you are where you want to be this year. Have a great Valentine’s Day. You deserve it.

  2. Very nice post! I laughed out loud several times. Favorite phrase: “my brethren in arms and credit cards,” – cracked me up big time! 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your wife.

    1. Thank you, Michelle. I consider it a success if someone reads the entire post or at least most of it. If that someone actually laughs, my day is made. Hope your Valentine’s Day was a good one as well.

  3. I realized the Valentines day issue when I asked my mum her date of birth. My mum was born on 14 of February. The I was in High school around August of that year. The following February was when I made my first ever Valentines gift to my mum since I thought it was for our mothers since mine was born on that day. I made red LEDs tow my mum was happy enough! The link on my name is the previous blog address that I changed to . So should you want to get to me, its there.

    1. What are red LEDs? Those sound hi tech. All I ever have my was some gloppy mess made of construction paper, glue, and magic marker. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone born on Valentine’s Day. I do know that if my mum was born on Valentine’s Day she would say, “Don’t think this gets you out of a birthday present.”

  4. I remember giving and receiving the Valentine’s cards from classmates – what fun!? My favorite part was making the “mailbox” out of an old shoebox; decorating it with construction paper hearts, paper doilies and glitter, if we were lucky ~ that was a blast!!

    1. I think we had those glittery boxes too. I remember you had to cover the box in red construction paper and then apply glue to the outside and then sprinkle the glitter onto the glue. My problem was that I always used too much glue and ended up with a Valentine’s Day box dripping with glitter-accented globs of glue. I’m sure my parents loved showing that to relatives.

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