Why All I Want for Valentine's Day Is a Card
I completely agree. And I am very happy that so many women, who in the past might have gotten themselves into a twist on this day of love that produces so many anxious, hateful feelings, have had the epiphany I had 18 years ago: Too big a deal is made about February 14th. Only I had to learn the hard way, having spent most of my youth as a cupid groupie.
Sure, when I had a boyfriend, I'd get a card ... maybe. I received flowers here and there, and even a gift once or twice. But I never scored the way some women I knew did, with television sets, candlelit dinners at New York's famed 21 Club, or heart-shaped diamond earrings/bracelets/pendants (pick one) from Tiffany's.
Some of their Valentine loot was more impressive than stuff I had gotten two months prior for Christmas. Even after I was married, my husband Neil, a usually generous provider, just couldn't get it right. He once bought me a gigantic, beribboned box of dark chocolate (I only eat milk chocolate). I'd hint/whine enough about getting flowers delivered at work, but he'd call too late and the bouquet would show up at 5 p.m., making me miss the opportunity to show off to co-workers. Or he'd be traveling on business and just plain forget. ("Oops. Sorry. We'll go for a nice dinner this weekend to make it up.")
So, when the day of all things Eros rolled around in 1993, I was hardly shocked when Neil, then a senior associate at his law firm which operated like a 7-Eleven (it never closed), told me he had to stay late at the office. On my way home from work, I bought a fashion magazine so I would have something to do as I sat alone eating mac & cheese and watching TV while waiting for Neil. As I thumbed through the pages, I came upon an article where the editors had asked celebrities to describe their most romantic of all Valentine's.
The one that fanned my flames the most was by the model-turned-actress extolling the virtues of her husband who, the year before, had taken romance to new heights, literally. After their children were tucked safely in bed, he asked her to go for a walk up the mountain behind their Colorado/Montana/Utah/wherever spread. Halfway up, they encountered a white, heated tent. He had arranged for her favorite New York City restaurant to fly in a gourmet feast, complete with candlelight and a string quartet.
I read the story over several times just to make myself more miserable. By the time Neil walked in the door, I wanted to hit him with the magazine. A year later, same story, except this time I picked a glossy tabloid off the supermarket rack. Miss Mountain-Heated-Tent graced the cover with an exclusive interview inside that spoke of her painful divorce, as well as her plans for a new life as a single mom and an acting comeback. That was the night I realized love cannot be measured in rose petals (or even a nice meal set to music).
When Neil came home -- even later than expected -- with a picked-over bouquet from the 24-hour Korean grocer on the corner and no card because the neighborhood drugstore was already closed, he was quite perplexed by the big hug and kiss he received as I thanked him for thinking of me.
Very soon we will be celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and also marking 30 years together total. He has stayed with me to commemorate the good times as well as ride out the bad ones. That's enough proof for me that I am loved; I don't need a designated day to celebrate it. But, like 87 percent of my sisters, I still think a card is a nice touch.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl, a Manhattan-based journalist and advertising copywriter, is the author of the novel "Fat Chick," as well as a columnist for Care and Manhattan Media's Our Town and West Side Spirit newspapers. She is a recovering Cupid-aholic.
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