I have never been one to put too much stock in Valentine’s Day – even when I was young and possessed a more romantic sensibility. As an uncompromising cynic, I find the commerciality of it all ridiculous, and can’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for the men in our society who must live up to expectations they are structurally incapable of fulfilling. It is as unfair a system as any I have ever seen.
To add to my derisiveness, my father passed away on Valentine’s Day, six years ago. Any tolerance I may have had for the frivolity of the so-called holiday quickly evaporated and was replaced with the heaviness of grief. It is no longer a day of light-hearted romantic celebration, but rather a day of quiet remembrance and reflection.
Still, I’m not completely heartless. I usually pick up a few little trinkets, a box of chocolates, and an obligatory card or two. This year, Valentine’s Day was a busy one. An early morning vet appointment, last-minute cramming for a test, the test, a three-hour lab session, and finally, gymnastics practice. I forgot all about buying gifts for the family until I overheard two classmates discussing their evening plans.
No worries. On my way home, I stopped at a local grocery store – the one who likes to think of themselves as the neighborhood florist. Of course, I was not alone in my procrastination, and the place was a sea of people – mostly men trying to live up to their love’s expectations. I must say it is a funny thing to watch grown men pick through buckets of roses trying to find the nicest, yet cheapest flowers for the one’s they love. I overheard one guy bragging to his buddy that he scored a bunch of lilies for nine bucks. I wanted to tell him they were not appropriate – unless, of course, he was going to a funeral. I refrained. Some lessons are best learned firsthand.
I was quite pleased with my own purchases, especially given the late hour. My daughter is one of simple tastes. She prefers chocolates above all else and really likes it when I buy her a candy bar bouquet. My mother likes Ghirardelli chocolates – done. My husband likes chocolate covered cherries, and I almost bought him two boxes. Then I spied a heart-shaped box of Italian truffles. I chose those instead. I thought he would appreciate the change.
He did not.
It seems Italian truffles are full of two things he hates most in life – almonds and hazelnuts.