“On Valentine’s Day, the Spirit Club plastered the school with red streamers and pink balloons and red and pink hearts. It looked like Clifford the Big Red Dog ate a flock of flamingoes and then barfed his guts up.” ― Carolyn Mackler, Vegan, Virgin, Valentine
“Cupid, draw back you bow”
Note to self if you drop a rose bush don’t try to catch it. I’m now oozing blood from five spots on my right hand. Roses have thorns even those purchased from Valentine’s Day.
It seems, every Valentine’s Day is my own version of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre or a Valentine’s slasher movie. I am sure I will have shot myself in the foot by day’s end but at least my bride hasn’t beheaded me like the original St. Valentine. I’m also sure she has considered it.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, like Midas, I have a special talent. Everything I touch turns into poop.
I haven’t had a successful Valentine’s Day since grammar school. We filled out cheap, little Valentines for everyone in class. Short little sayings like “Be Mine!” I remember looking at “Be My Valentine” from Big Lamar, the class bully that should have been two grade levels above us. We had yet to become creative with little poems like, “Roses are red, violets are blue. Your feet smell like cow poop and your breath does too.”
My first negative memory of many was a Valentine’s Day preteen party in the early 1960s. The Church sponsored event was supposed to be a dress up, Sunday best kind of gala. A Kool-Aid and cupcake affair. We were Methodist so dancing would be allowed, and I prayed my two left feet would somehow transform themselves. A cute little blonde girl had agreed to “hang out and talk.” My first date.
The day before, the world’s largest zit appeared in the middle of my forehead. It didn’t matter. I’m sure the dance was great, but I have no memories of it because I didn’t get to go. My anxiety over my “first date” was so great I threw up and was kept home, in bed, covered in Vick’s VapoRub, the cure-all of the day. It might have been a stomach virus, but Valentine’s Day has been its own virus since. VapoRub was not the cure.
The dance worked out well for my date. A friend took advantage of the situation, and they became a couple. This weird Cupid moment might have been the high point of my attempts at being a romantic Valentine.
Can you imagine? On average, fifty-eight billion pounds or two point two billion dollars’ worth of chocolate will be sold the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Over two-hundred and fifty million roses are produced just for Valentine’s Day. That is two point three billion in flower sales. A whopping six point two billion dollars are spent on jewelry. I have contributed with little success.
Love-struck Americans dole out almost twenty-four billion dollars on Valentine’s Day with men spending twice the average. Men will spend on average, one-hundred and seventy dollars to prove their undying love. Women? Half of that.
I’ve all but given up on making Valentine’s Day a special event. Attempts at romantic dinners have ended with food poisoning. I’ve tried poetry, “Roses are red, violets are blue, pizza is hot, and so are you.” I’ve tried to create artistic and rustic birdhouses with tin hearts or a couple holding hands. Most fell apart as quickly as my attempts at romantic expression.
I’m waiting for a masked psychopath to show up to carve out my heart in a real-life Valentine’s slasher movie. Blood splatter replacing rose petals scattered on the bedroom floor.
Speaking of bloody, how did the violent death of a Catholic saint become a celebration of love anyway? There are three suggested stories about three different Saint Valentines. What do they have in common? Martyrdom. Violent death. Two of the accounts involve beheading. Somehow beheading seems apropos. How many of us have lost our heads over someone we shouldn’t have?
That still doesn’t explain cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry but a historical change in Nineteenth Century America does. Prior to this time most marriages were economic rather than romantic despite what romantic writers would have us believe. Even the poor founded their marriages more as economic alliances than romantic love. “Two can live as cheaply as one,” I was told once. Someone lied to me.
This changed in the mid-1800s from economics to romance, or at least combined the two. It also triggered an increase in the giving of tokens of love and it has snowballed from there.
I have taken to giving rose plants as a token of my undying affection. My bride and I plant them in a rose garden next to my vegetable garden in hopes they will bloom as our love has. I dig the holes and let my bride plant them and as soon as she does, they become her responsibility. If they die, it’s on her.
My Midas special Midas touch is still in effect. Damn rose plant has thorns and they have already bitten me. This Valentine’s Day is in fact a bloody one.
Don Miller’s author page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3yEfoldEBWs3ZbA6bCCQc13npcCrXWdZl0pVYvdbsRMQ86SppPZQVl3SE