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.
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.