My friend Ann sent around an email last week, really more of a prayer:
February 13th: Dear Lord, give me strength and "sisters" give me sympathy--for a husband who says, "I talked to the folks at Super S Grocery about what I should consider giving you for Valentine's Day."
I figure she was dreading that she might end up with maybe a smoked ham or kitchen cleansers or something. I couldn’t offer much advice since I knew I was receiving a 12-volt DeWalt cordless drill. But, in Beaven’s defense, that’s exactly what I asked for. This was a far cry from the year of “the incident.”
“The incident,” as we refer to it in family lore happened one year when I was working at First National Bank in downtown Garland. Banks are normally habituated primarily by women employees, most of who are either sleep-deprived or suffer from a lack of estrogen. It just seems like most bank employees fall into one of two or three categories. They are either new mothers with babies who keep them awake all night or mothers who get “the call” every afternoon after school and have to referee fights between siblings over the telephone. Being a mother isn’t the easiest job you get. It always made balancing a couple of million dollars in the vault to each teller's drawer seem easy. So, when Valentines Day rolls around, you figure you will finally receive some sort of reward, some token of love. Lord knows you deserve it.
The year in question, I was in the “afternoon phone call” stage of motherhood when the girls would dutifully call each afternoon to tell me that they were home from school. Then they would usually either announce that there was no food in the house or that their mentally ill sister had just committed some unpardonable sin. The “day in question” may have also been the day that the latest unpardonable sin was a younger sister riding around the street on her bicycle with her older sister’s flute dragging behind on the pavement. Or something similar.
I was in need of flowers. That Valentines Day I watched the parade of floral deliveries all day long waiting for mine even though I knew Beaven was far too practical and/or brain damaged to get me flowers. His preferred method of showing love was to change the oil in my car.
I got home that night and started our annual Valentines Day argument. I won’t go into gory details here but the evening ended with the statement, “If you would just send the damned flowers I would shut up.”
A week or so later the flowers arrived. Enough time had gone by that most of the women at work had forgotten all about Valentines Day. They twittered with questions about what I had done to deserve this out-of -season gesture. When they asked me what the flowers were for I had to glumly admit they were for “being a bitch.”
And, per my agreement, I have had to shut about flowers. It was the last delivery of flowers I ever got. In the years since I’ve learned to appreciate it whenever he changes the oil in my car. That may be the closest I ever get to flowers again.
Well, yes, there was the Vespa last year. I guess that took care of all the Valentines past, present and future. I don’t kid myself that it was purely a starry-eyed romantic gift, though. He probably didn’t even realize it was Valentines Day until the lady in the store gave him red balloons to bring home. But it was enough to score major points in the gift department. It sure beats a canned ham.