Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vee Day

Another Valentine’s Day and I could not be happier to have it over. The day of commercialized love was manufactured by card companies and further promoted by purveyors of jewelry, flowers, stuffed animals and chocolates. Sans Valentine, I feel the sting of loneliness on this day more than most others. For those who are partnered up or perhaps courting a potential suitor, the day can be fun. Expensive, perhaps. Maybe even stressful. But it’s a nice warm, fuzzy feeling when choosing a gift for the object of your affection and receiving one purportedly chosen with you in mind (or quite possibly the first thing found in the budget range and snatched off the rack). I miss having someone to bake cookies for.

For singletons with no romances in the works, I would hazard a guess that psychological counselors see a boom in appointments from those of us for whom there are no floral arrangements, chocolates, jewelry and pretty cards, and who have the appropriate health insurance coverage. For those without the luxury of insurance, it’s probably a date with a liquor bottle. Some of us will seek solace in the discounted bins of candy beginning on the 15th and continuing until the discounts have reached 80% and all supplies are exhausted. At least THAT is something to look forward to.

Valentine’s Day, bad blood and I go way back. In high school, we had carnation sales where you could send a white, pink or red carnation to someone you “wanted to get to know,” “liked” or “loved.” Every time the door opened to a classroom and a carnation arrived, I hoped and prayed it was for me, but I never received any and was too proud (and broke) to send myself one. While other girls walked around with bouquets, I slunk through the hallways flower free.

Memories of romantic entanglement involve many quiet dinners cooked at home, (by me, just like every other day of the year) and altar-sized floral arrangements. X-man loved to send flowers when there was an audience for his display of romantic generosity. Maybe that was the universe’s attempt to make up for the tragic high school years. If Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend, there were never floral deliveries to the house, but if it was a workday and I had co-workers to impress, huge arrangements arrived at my desk – gigantic enough to result in near death experiences during transport home. Driving is tricky when peering around bobbing helium-filled balloons and trying to avoid a dislocated shoulder while attempting to keep a vase upright at every turn. Throw in some winter weather and it becomes an Olympic-scale event filled with danger and excitement. To cement his imagined position as husband of the year, he’d engage in an interrogation concerning my coworkers’ level of jealousy over my flowers, until I was finally forced to fabricate a story about women weeping at their desks, watering their suddenly less grandiose arrangements with their tears and men dashing out to supplement their suddenly meager offerings.

After years of deliberation, I still can’t decide which is worse – having no Valentine at all, or having one who doesn’t seem to know me. In the dusty memory banks of Valentine’s Days past, there are gifts from alleged loved ones that seem like they weren’t intended for me at all. The ex-husband who loved to buy jewelry never bought anything I liked, no matter how many times I showed him in pictures and real life examples. I don’t understand how I could manage to remember what type of power tools (Stanley), cigars (Black & Mild) and chocolate covered cherries he preferred (the ones with the syrupy stiff and not the cream), but he couldn’t grasp the concept that I don’t like dainty jewelry, even after handing me the Ross-Simons catalogue and having me circle everything I liked.

There was the card from a boyfriend I lived with for over a year that noted in his neat, manly script that I am “a great person” and signed with his full name, as if I might have forgotten who he was since earlier in the day. After we broke up, I obsessed that maybe he mixed my card up with one intended for some new flirtation. There was a box of chocolate from a boyfriend who then got mad that I actually had the nerve to eat it without first segregating his favorites and leaving them for him. While adept at constantly pointing out my flaws, he somehow managed to overlook my one and only special super power – making a box of chocolates disappear.

I eagerly anticipate this year’s sales so I can further hone my chocolate disappearing act. I am going for new personal best speed record. With luck the resulting full belly and candy coma will cause temporary amnesia and overpower the toxic, bitter emptiness in my heart.