The 14th? Of FEBRUARY? Uh-oh

I come before you today as a rather rare, but lucky, specimen: a man who once forgot Valentine’s Day and lived to tell the tale.  Or at least that’s how the legend goes.  Like a lot of legends, that’s not exactly how it happened.

It’s actually a fairly simple tale, one that goes back about a couple of decades.  Once upon a time, there was this guy … ah t’heck with that, here’s how it happened:

I was dating a young lady who had visions of making a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner for me, a night in as opposed to our more usual let’s-grab-a-bite fare.  Anchored by a nice steak & all the trimmings she knew I liked, it was a great idea filled with love and thoughtfulness.   Pretty much spot-on target for a great idea.  Dinner was lovely.  Tasty, good presentation, relaxing, a welcome change of pace from the mile a minute pace we seemed to be keeping most of the time.   And then things started to go south.

As the evening wore on, her mood began to change.  Conversations that had been warm & flowing earlier started to become stiff, almost downright chilly.  A relaxed environment became a little tense, running toward almost awkward.  Casual inquiries about anything I might have done or said wrong earlier were deflected with little comment and even less candor.

Somewhere along the way I realized, as men have done since time immemorial, that I had somehow screwed up.  Problem was, I hadn’t the foggiest how.  I replayed the evening in my head, there simply wasn’t anything that resembled a typical faux pas  – let’s be honest,  after a while, even the most clueless of us start recognize where/how we screw stuff up – I just couldn’t find anything I’d said or done wrong.

Now at this point I have to admit that with the passage of time, the exact details of my eventual discovery have gotten a little fuzzy, probably a self-defense mechanism.   Let’s just call it a couple of days later, give or take, after more curt responses & even more prolonged silences whenever we were together, she finally pointed out my mistake.

In grand & glorious unforgettable fashion, with no shortage of clarity:  I had totally missed Valentine’s Day.

Now as she phrased it – repeatedly and with considerable gusto I might add – I “forgot” Valentine’s Day.  My defense, same now as it was then, was that I didn’t “forget”, I simply didn’t realize it had come.  Her main argument was that my claim was completely impossible, that no one could possibly sit inside a radio station & play holiday themed commercial after commercial after commercial and not realize the date.  My counter was that no one sitting inside the station actually listens to commercials, we’re doing four other things during the break & really only pay attention to the end of the last one.  I didn’t “forget” the day, I was honestly & thoroughly totally unconscious of the date that dinner was served (did I mention how really good it was?) and really only faintly more aware of the date of any of the days that followed.

Suffice to say that she didn’t buy that.  I’ll spare you the colorful description of just how implausible she found it.  With my backside dangling over an extremely dangerous precipice, my only hope for rescue was a thin lifeline woven from the threads of being completely oblivious .  I was not insensitive, I was not uncaring, I was simply a clueless git.  Not exactly the most comforting defense strategy but when all else fails, relying on the truth can become your only option.

Of course those of you who know me already know how things turned out.  To be sure there was a price extracted for my ignorance.  I think I got a calendar as a Valentine’s gift the following year, given to me well in advance of mid-February I might add.   I think I’ve bought enough flowers to carpet a football field, enough cards to cause entire tree species to become extinct.   But the important thing was that she accepted them.

See, in spite of my unthinkable mistake, she eventually married me anyway.  I know, I know, it’s really hard to imagine, but it’s true.  I can’t explain it, heck I’m not sure I can even defend her decision to do so .  When you think about it, that’s actually a much much bigger brain lapse than being blissfully ignorant of any given date on the calendar … but I’m way to smart to point that out too loudly.

Not only did I survive, but I’ve had the privilege of spending every Valentine’s Day since with the love of my life.  I’m still not very good at traditional gifts, still have a lousy memory, still have lousy awareness of the date at any given moment, still have an innate ability to be utterly clueless at the wrong time … and in spite of all that the relationship has survived.  It’s been argued at various times that this is a tribute to her tolerance, bad judgment, questionable taste in men.  Hard to completely refute any of those … but I like to think it’s more a matter of destiny.  Cruel fate for her, tremendous blessing for me.

Whatever the reasons, I’m simply thankful it worked out as well as it did.  I can’t imagine spending Valentine’s Day without her, nor any of the other 364.  That’s it, that’s the bottom line for me.

That’s love.

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