These are the days that try men’s souls. And women’s.
I speak not of our nation’s economic woes, nor of the mountains of snow threatening to collapse our roofs.
No, ladies and gentlemen, I speak of the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Having been single, married, widowed, and now single again, I can tell you one thing: Valentine’s Day may appear innocent, but it is an inherently evil holiday. With the exception of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, few dates on the calendar can strike fear into the hearts of otherwise rational people more than this, the day of love.
During the frigid days of early February, who among us isn’t moved to tears (and possible nausea) by something as simple as a trip to CVS? The demonic little plush bears dyed an unnatural shade of red, their plastic hearts, filled with cheap candies. Who is the marketing genius who thought this a fitting gift to bestow upon the object of one’s affections?
I can hear it now: “Let’s see, Norma, what gift would land a lot of men in the dog house on Valentine’s Day? Ha ha. Ha.”
Clearly, Norma was working for Satan.
If you are single, the holiday announces one thing: a gaping void. I don’t care how happy you profess to be, how big your KitchenAid refrigerator, or how fulfilling your career – something is missing. And, it’s not the love of your mother, friends, or family. It’s romantic love. You wonder how it eludes you. Do you frequent the wrong grocery stores? Wear the wrong deodorant? WTH?
If you are dating someone, the holiday signals some level of success. You are an insider.
If you are in love with the person you are dating, there is also an unhealthy level of expectation. And trepidation. Will Valentine’s Day bring out his inner Cary Grant? Or his inner Soupy Sales? Secretly, you pray, “Please don’t give me one of those bears.”
If you are not in love with the person you are dating, but perhaps just using them as a placeholder, or, let’s face it, for great sex, and they are not aware of this fact, then you are in grave danger of receiving an engagement ring or something that will make it a tragic day for all concerned.
I have broken up with men in late January, simply because I was terrified at the gifts they may have bestowed upon me a few weeks later. Better to break someone’s heart on President’s Day than on Feb. 14. You want to do all you can to avoid ruining this magical “day of love” for anyone for all eternity.
Be sensitive. Please.
If you are married, the holiday signals opportunity. Either to reach back into the time machine and rekindle the flame of passion, or to realize you have made a grave error in the mate selection process. All of the commercials featuring glowing couples canoodling in diamond-filled jewelry stores can sometimes make divorce court look quite appealing.
If you are divorced, the holiday can potentially inspire less-than-loving thoughts. I’m not divorced (I’d have to get married again to have any chance of that happening), but if I were, I imagine I’d be eyeing those large bags of Lindt chocolate truffles and dreaming of ways to launch them through my former spouse’s bedroom window. Perhaps after I had filled them with some type of explosive. Harsh? Maybe. But being a child of divorce, I have some inkling regarding the often emotionally unpleasant aftermath.
If you are widowed, the holiday brings up, well, despair. And weeping. Lots of weeping. Thankfully, as these past eight years have crawled by, I’ve been able to stop weeping and both reflect upon and cherish the sweet Valentine’s Days we shared. And to laugh over the ones that nearly propelled us toward marriage counseling.
This year, my children and I are cooking a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. At home. I can barely contain my excitement. No threat of scary stuffed animals or engagement rings.
So take a deep breath and do something you love on Valentine’s Day. With the people you love.
Feb. 15 is only a heartbeat away.