Thursday, February 14, 2008
Valentine's Day Blues
I think Valentine's Day is kind of a wimpy holiday. For a lot of people, it's an afterthought. For the others? The ones with great expectations of romantic gestures and heartfelt expressions of undying devotion? Well, the results are usually a disappointment.
By the way, if you haven't already figured it out, the author Evelyn David is really two people. The smart, witty posts on Mondays are written by the Northern Evelyn. The "what the heck does that have to do with writing" posts that show up on Thursdays are done by me – the Southern Evelyn.
Today, in between annoying coal miners, legislators, and federal regulators, all within the same eight hours (a personal best for me at my day job), I've been worrying about this blog. It should be easy for me to write 600 words on anything. Normally, I can't even write the opening to a scene in less than 300. But today (which is yesterday if you're reading this) my mind was scattered. Gathering any blogging ideas was much akin to herding cats (I know, I know, that phrase has been overused, but it's still a favorite of mine and I intend to use it until I find another that means chasing down elusive, furry things that bite and scratch when you finally nab them.) I drafted several blogs – one on lying before congressional committees (don't go before them and don't lie) and one on the powers of the number 3 (don't ask, I was digging deep for that one).
Valentine's Day was an obvious topic choice. But what to say that hasn't been said before? I could discuss the impossible search for a perfect card and color coordinated envelope (a real feat if you shop in a super store.) Ever notice how many people don't take the envelope that the card gods intended to go with a particular card? What's with that? By the time I start looking, the remaining cards and envelopes don't match up – not even in size. Sometimes I'm choosing the card not for the design or sentiment inside; I'm picking it because it fits in the one remaining uncrumpled envelope.
And then there's the chocolate . . . . I've always thought that chocolate was an excellent gift choice on Valentine's Day – but please don't give me those heart shaped boxes of chocolate wrapped in red foil and ribbon. For me eating the chocolate in those boxes is a scavenger hunt with some nasty surprises. I don't like nuts. I don't like coconut. I'm not crazy about caramel or hidden cherries. My favorites are those pieces that taste the most like a plain 3 Musketeers' candy bar.
When I was younger, my brother always parked himself by my side when I opened the boxes of Valentine's candy. One tiny test bite and I was usually handing off the offensive piece to him – who, like the Mikey of cereal commercials, would literally eat any kind of candy. One time I made the old fashioned fudge – the cooked kind with butter, salt, cocoa and sugar. I got some measurement wrong. The stuff set up harder than a brick and I literally used a dishtowel-wrapped hammer to break it into pieces. It was also lacking in sugar. I couldn't eat it. My parents couldn't eat it. It took my brother a couple of months, but he finally finished off the whole batch. He was a real trooper! Thinking of it – I probably owe him some money for dental bills.
Before leaving work, I took an informal survey of the other ladies in the office. What were they expecting to get for Valentine's Day? Surprisingly, the answer was much the same. To avoid a lot of hassle and hurtful recriminations, they now bought their own gifts and picked out exactly what they wanted. Their husbands and significant others reimbursed them later for the costs.
I think I'll do the same. Anyone care for a Klondike ice cream bar with a red ribbon?
Maybe, I'll just skip the ribbon.
Happy Valentine's Day.