Oh dear gawd. The unopened Christmas credit card bills have barely hit the shredder and here comes Valentine’s Day. I know, many people anxiously anticipate this frilliest of holidays. Some because they have stock in Hallmark. Many, many others are starry-eyed romantic dreamer types with their heads up their, uh, clouds. Yeah, we’ll go with clouds. If you haven’t picked up the vibe yet, I am not in either category.
In an effort to figure out why I have such a nasty attitude about this day of love and Cupid (Rhymes with ‘Stupid’…’nuff said), let’s travel back to grammar school. Back in my day, Valentine’s Day was one big pink and red lace-trimmed festival. We spent all morning decorating our little Valentine’s mailboxes – the base could be a shoebox, tissue box or a cereal box rescued from the trash at home. In desperation, a certain feminine hygiene product box served just fine, and was not nearly as embarrassing as one would thing. Since grammar school boys don’t mature until—well—ever, it was easy to convince them the products pictured were big thick Odor Eaters. Armed with a wide array of art supplies, we all set to work decorating our mailboxes. The boys were done in under a minute. Doesn’t take long to tape three baseball cards to a shoebox.
We girls took much longer. Every year, my artistic vision far exceeded both my artistic ability and the array of art supplies. I pictured a sparkling lace and glitter confection of a treasure chest that would be positively bursting with Valentines, including a breathtaking handcrafted creation from Dougie or Billy or the new kid – whoever I was head over Keds for that week. I further imagined that after the exchanging of handcrafted proclamations of undying affection, my one true love du jour and I would share chocolate cupcakes decorated with fluffy white frosting and cinnamon hearts. Then as the sun set in the west, we would walk, hand in hand to Bus #9. I’ll give you a moment to wipe the tears away. Now here’s how it usually played out.
We’ll start with the wide array of art supplies. The glue, having been left uncapped since the Christmas projects was a cementy clot, the little scissors jammed up at the sight of construction paper, the paper lace doilies, being all fused together, came apart in little shards and the glitter stuck to my face and hands but not any paper surface. The finished product would have made Picasso proud, but was not appreciated by my classmates, Picasso’s talent not being a big topic of discussion at Connors-Emerson in Bar Harbor in the early ‘60’s. Was the mailbox positively bursting with cards? A generous estimate would be half full of the generic store bought variety, with no handmade creation from my one true love. Just another generic store bought card signed by his mother.
As for sharing party fare? Never, unless you count the year an unknown perpetrator (I knew in my little fourth grade heart it was Dougie or Billy or the new kid flirting with me) stuck a fluffy-frosted cinnamon heart bedecked cupcake on my chair as I sat down. It goes without saying (which won’t stop me from saying it) that the handholding to the bus was a non-event.
Although Valentine’s Day, for me, is not as portrayed on the Hallmark Channel, I thought I might be able to help make it better for others. To that end, I offer these shopping suggestions to help the menfolk reading this make their sweetheart’s Valentine’s Day special. You know who you are. You are the ones reading this at gunpoint.
Kitchen and/or household appliances. No. Never.
Flowers. Now we’re talking. I should caution you that, although it may be a real timesaver to purchase a single rose or a bouquet at the same place you buy your beer, lottery tickets and breakfast pizza, there are businesses right in the area that specialize in flowers and floral arrangements. They have phone numbers and they deliver. We like delivered flowers. Oh sure, we seem to appreciate you handing us flowers at home, but we all secretly prefer to have a large flashy arrangement delivered to our place of work by a team of winged cherubs. Makes it easier to flaunt in the face of flowerless co-workers.
Candy. Candy is good, if it is GOOD CANDY. A few basic rules to follow – if the box is decorated for Christmas and has a 75% off sticker, pass it by. If it is covered with cartoon and/or sports figures, move on. Look for a simple, elegant box with maybe some gold lettering. Most importantly, please note that it is bad form to eat the candy yourself while telling your sweety you are doing her a favor because she is looking a little ‘hippy’.
Lingerie is risky, but with proper consideration, can be rewarding for both giver and recipient. As with flowers, there are shops devoted just to lingerie. While Wal-Mart carries items that are structurally similar, make the trip to Victoria’s Secret. When purchasing the gift, please be aware of the recipient’s age, size, shape, agility, ability and mood. And please also be aware that on the recipient, the black lace babydoll may not appear exactly as pictured. But you should also be aware George Clooney probably looks better in Carhartt’s than you do.
Jewelry. Shiny stuff in velvet-y boxes is always welcome. Go to a store that deals exclusively in shiny stuff in velvet-y boxes. Make sure the item description does not end with ‘ish’, ‘like’ or ‘tone’. Most jewelers offer some form of installment plan or indentured servant program to help you afford the bauble she truly deserves. I will caution you, some of us regard jewelry as an admission of guilt. Oh, we will wear the 4 carat diamond tennis bracelet, but there will be questions, many questions.
A couple of final shopping notes, in the event anyone has the urge to buy me a Valentine’s (or any day) gift. The only thing that Victoria’s Secret sells that consistently fits me is the perfume. Also, I will happily accept shiny stuff in velvet-y boxes, no questions, asked.
OK, gentlemen, you only have a few shopping days left. So arm yourselves with several major credit cards and the title to your pickup truck and seek out those specialty stores. If you’re still in a quandary about how to demonstrate your love, be sincere. And maybe stick a fluffy frosted cinnamon heart bedecked cupcake in her chair.
You can find Debbie's blog is at: LEAP YEAR BABY