By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Let’s just get to it.
I Hate Valentine’s Day.
I mean I really hate it. Not just the run-of-the-mill disdain and revulsion that comes from lemmingly surrendering to a meaningless Hallmark holiday. The dread of the arriving heartfelt holiday haunts me. I really hate Valentines Day.
My feelings are justified. They are built upon a lifetime of February 14th crash-and-burns. Among the many highlights, I got married the first time on “that date”. Though the date survives, that marriage thankfully did not.
What really fries my toast, is the mandatory “Love Me On Demand” nature of the holiday. Anybody who has been engaged in a relationship knows that there are days when your partner is the last person with whom you want to express your love. Undoubtedly, you know those days; the days that it annoys you that your partner is breathing your air. For me, that day always seems to fall on February 14th.
One year, my darling bride of now almost 20 years saw me marching from the Law School down to M Street for what she knew was my Valentines Day Trek for cards and candy. She laughed at how she described my shoulders hunched forward and a sneer upon my face. Trust me, she was not exaggerating.
Of course, it is my luck to have met the one woman in the world who really thinks Valentines Day is very special. In honor of the woman now so long my wife, I have really tried to make the best out of the holiday. I do the candy, card, and flowers thing. Yes, I have done the romantic dinners, the special surprises and gifts, along with all those things that a man does for his woman so he can get laid once in a while.
One year I tried to get out of Valentines Day by buying neither card nor candy; pretending to have “forgotten” … in hopes the holiday would be forgotten. The lesson of that experiment is, “Guilt is a powerful weapon in the hands of a forlorn and tearful spouse.” I worked hard to make up for it.
The situation is getting critical because I have a growing girl in the house. My daughter, now 15, also has her heart set on a Happy Valentine’s Day every year. Every year, the whole household is on its feet at 6:00 A.M. so we can exchange cards and CANDY. It is Christmas morning all over again for her.
Over the years, I have managed to sneak some candy in her school bag before she left in the morning. Sometimes when she gets home, she is all aflutter because some “secret admirer” had given her a candygram. To this day, she remains tickled pink thinking somewhere out there, some boy had his heart set on her. Constantly, I try and find ways to sneak up on her (and her Mom) and surprise them both. It is fun. This year, she again I pray she fails to find the candy before school and the card, not until math class.
These past few years, the wife and I have come upon a new Valentines Day tradition. It started in the years I was not practicing law. It was fun and we continued even after I was reinstated. We have good friends who own a flower shop and we volunteer to help deliver the hundreds of flower orders that pile in for this holiday. With two people in the car, it is fast and easy. I enjoy most seeing the smiles and hearing the words “awwwwwwwww” from the surprised recipients.
Three years ago, the day just like every other, we planned to spend the day bringing joy to the world. It was the last time; ever.
At 7:30 in the morning, we appeared ready for work, got the orders together, bagged them, and loaded them into the delivery van. The next nine hours were spent driving everywhere from the hills of Cazenovia to the expanse of Pompey to every nook and cranny of Manlius trying to make sure every delivery got to its intended destination. We were excited about this route. They were rich folks and hopefully gave big tips. You can guess: Not one dime. Not one tip. People in Manlius and Cazenovia, with their mansions and expansive properties did not cough up a single penny for the people who slaved away to make their day just a little bit brighter.
The weather that Valentine’s Day was cold. It was overcast, very windy, with freezing and regular rain, and the temperatures were in the low 20’s. It was cold enough to freeze over even the warmest of Valentine’s hearts. The roads were slippery but they were nothing compared to the effect wind has on unshoveled driveways, walkways, and door steps. It was wet, cold, and miserable. Every delivery seemed to be to a house on a hilltop with a high sloping access to the door. Nobody fell and no flowers were ruined but walking with your hands full of delicate orbs was a very risky and stressful experience.
I understand why people give flowers for this holiday. Expensive arrangements, exotic plants, cute balloons, and candy are all ordered delivered by presumably loving husbands and fathers. What I fail to understand is WHY do you order stuff to be delivered when you know that nobody is going to be home? Doesn’t it kind of defeat the purpose when she has to drive all the way in to Manlius to pick up what you should have picked up on your way home from work?
Driving sucked. It felt like I missed every light, every turn, and followed every “by the book” driver on the road. Nobody seemed to understand I had 200 flower orders to deliver and they were in my way. While they lollygagged, I was blooming with frustration at how long it was taking to go from point A to point B. Imagine how nine hours of this can impact stress levels.
When we would open the van to get out an order, the icy wind would blow through the vehicle sending our delivery slips flying out into the snow. Things were getting lost in the van. We had double orders, missing orders, wrong addresses, WRONG CITIES, and wrong names. Doors on the van got stuck and couldn’t be opened. Flower vases spilled flooding water everywhere. One order magically reappeared in the van AFTER it was delivered. (Don’t ask).
The cold and stress and misery took a toll on the conversation inside the van. “Yelling” was the constant means of communication. Two hungry, tired and bathroom anxious travelers driving around like maniacs reminded me constantly why I hate this holiday so damn much. As if serving as its own analogy, this labor of love itself became more of a chore than a joy. We were no longer doing of our own hearts and desire, but because we “had” to. We hated the work, we hated each other, and we hated flowers. To make things only that much worse, we stopped at the post office. Someone sent me an anonymous valentine. If my Mrs. needed a trigger to help her explode, that Valentine worked perfectly.
Part of the rush of the day was due to the wife’s needing to leave town at 3:30. We had to get the flowers delivered and get back to Manlius in time to shuffle her off. With only 2 minutes to spare, we returned, cleaned the van, checked out and went to the truck to drive home. Yet, when I stuck my key in the ignition, the truck said, “I ain’t going nowhere!” The battery was dead.
So I scrambled and begged and was lent the use of the flower company van to drive the bride to her destination. Upon my return and while waiting for the marines to land and get my truck started, my daughter calls me in a panic. She has to talk to her mom and refuses to share what is up.
In keeping with family tradition, my darling daughter now has a reason to hate this holiday as much as her dad. For the rest of her life, Valentine’s Day shall be remembered as the day she became a woman.
My horrid Valentine’s Day was thus spent in deep and intense discussion with a then 12 year old girl over a subject about which I have no clue. The whole evening was consumed with detailed discussions of cramps and athletics and all the fun things that go along with this monumental event. Clearly, I should have seen this coming, after having already lived through 12 years of her daily PMS.
So anyway, as I pass through yet another portal and survive another bloody Valentine’s Day, I leave you with this one thought ...
I would gladly rip my own still beating heart from my own chest and deliver it to you on a silver platter if just once, I could escape the miseries of February 14th.