It didn't come as much of a surprise when I picked up this week's work schedule. As usual, I'll be on (not just on-call) tomorrow night, which just happens to coincide with that most hallowed holiday for lovers. Ah yes, Valentine's Day. Depending on who you talk to, it's either the most romantic...or the most stressful day/night you can have. The good old days of giving that special someone a nice card, a bag of conversation heart candies stamped with "So Fine" or "Cutie Pie" and calling it a day are as passe' as Lindsay Lohan's acting career.
My first Valentine's Day with Wingman only happened because the band he was in succumbed to their girlfriends' pressure not to practice that night. Valentine's Day that year also happened to coincide with a Nor'easter. After getting through flooded roads, my car got stuck in the mud in front of my beachfront apartment. In the time it took him to help me push it out to higher ground, the chicken I was cooking for our romantic dinner burned to a crisp. I mean really burned. Non-edible burned. Wine-couldn't-help-it burned.
So we celebrated in other ways.
Then there were the stressful years I was the candy buyer for a major department store. Unlike a red sweater or a pair of diamond earrings, a chocolate heart has no absolutely no value on February 15th. Most years, I got lucky and we had great weather for guys to come out and profess their undying love with two pounds of our finest, red-cellophane-wrapped hearts. Not though in 1983. On February 12th as I was attending a trade show in Phoenix, a major blizzard occured as a result of one of the strongest El Nino's of the 20th century. Over the next 36 hours, the area got almost two feet of snow, and the governor declared a state of emergency prohibiting EVERYONE from flying, driving or even walking to shop for their loved ones. When all was said and done, my markdowns were way more than my sales and my boss-that little red headed, son-of-a-bitch, Napoleon-complexed-man, blamed ME for the abysmal season.
Neither God nor El Nino was named on my review that year as having anything to do with the fact that my P&L was more L than P.
Last year, I got flowers and one Valentine's Day card. It was from son #3 who calls me his roommate and knows a good thing when he sees it since I pay the bills. But other than that, I haven't received flowers since the boys were babes. True, having sons rather than daughters led to a lot less cutesy stuff in our house. School Valentine cards were Power Ranger, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or sports themed, depending on what K-Mart was pushing. A heart shaped helium ballon would later be tied to the back of their dinner chair, providing entertainment rather than endorsements of love. We prefered Wizard of Oz Munchkin to mushy talk, and inhaled the helium to make each other laugh.
These days, I certainly don't want anyone buying me a gift like an oversized teddy bear holding a normal teddy bear holding a little teddy bear. I don't need jewelry from a store in the mall where every kiss begins with a Sesame Street letter. And my taste in lingerie does not come from the aisle in Spencer's Gifts where there's a warning that the products are adult-oriented.
But there IS a pair of pants that I've been admiring. Black, with a leather tuxedo stripe down the sides. Great with boots or maybe a kitten-heeled pump...and they happen to be on promotion this week. So maybe I'll keep the economy going by buying a Valentine's Day gift to myself tomorrow night. Maybe later grab a heart shaped pizza and a bottle of wine and share it with the other single women I'm working with.
And for those who will be disappointed that their reality of this holiday didn't match their expectations, at least I hope it doesn't turn out like this:
But just remember that no matter how good or bad the night, all the Valentine candy gets marked down half price Saturday morning.