That was back when I still liked Valentine's Day.
Then came middle school.
There were no more heart shaped envelopes. Instead boys could send girls they liked candygrams and a rose through some Student Council fundraiser thingie. The Valentines would be delivered to people in the middle of class so everyone could see who got a Valentine...and who didn't. As it turns out, middle school Valentines are for cheerleaders and perky blondes A friend of mine (who is very attached to her left wing politics) once told me that she would be willing to give the Christian Right prayer in school if they would just place a ban on those damn candygrams. I agree. I'm Jewish and I would have gladly said the Rosary every flippin' day if I could have avoided watching so many of the other girls get candygrams while I walked away conspicuously empty handed.
I didn't do much better in high school. By my Jr. year my friend Jackie decided that we should always be each other's Valentine. That helped...but it still didn't make me love the holiday. Those ice cream cake parties were a distant memory that had been replaced by many more recent memories of rejection.
Then came college. There were boys to spare in college. Nobody cared that I didn't have blonde hair, and no one in the cities I went to college in (San Francisco & New York) wanted to be associated with cheerleaders. From an aesthetic perspective, the boys cared about curves and I had plenty of those. Finally I was the belle of the ball. So you'd think that from that point on all my Valentine's Days would have been nothing but hearts, chocolates and flowers, right?
Wrong. Because it seemed that my relationships ALWAYS fell apart a week or two before February 14th. It was like the day was cursed. I could have dates every weekend for 11 months straight and come February it was like a damned drought. My dislike of the holiday turned into a total and utter contempt.
Well, of course the answer is, you can't. As the years went on our marriage became more and more strained. We never did have another truly spectacular Valentine's Day...in fact we rarely even observed the holiday at all. And after the divorce I found that my Valentine's Day curse was alive and well. If I was dating someone over the holiday there would be some reason why my then-boyfriend and I couldn't spend it together. If I had a date on Valentine's Day it would be a disaster.
In the beginning of this last January I was at Trader Joes and noticed that they were getting the V-Day stuff ready. "Ugh," I said to the cashier, "I hate that holiday."
He looked at me in surprise. "Really? I would think that someone like you would be inundated with flowers, candy and admirers on Valentine's Day."
I was quiet for a moment. I was dating someone at the time. "Maybe this year will be different," I said, carefully, "different from the last 25 years or so."
And in that moment I realized it wouldn't be. One truly good Valentine's Day in 25 years...the odds were against me. My relationship would end by February 14th.
And so it did. And as they play advertisement after advertisement promoting the holiday I feel a little like that middle school girl sitting on my hands in class watching the blonde cheerleaders get their flowers and candy.
Except...maybe the holiday doesn't have to be...that. Maybe Jackie had a point. I should turn to my friends and ask them to make it special. My friend, Jay Michaels, the morning radio personality of Mix FM, has made me his Valentine. He lives in Indiana....oh, he's also gay. But more importantly he's totally awesome and I'm his Valentine and I know that tonight, in Indiana, a cosmo will be poured in my honor. I'm also meeting up with my friend Mika the fabulous Food Fashionista. She's my girl Valentine. And then there's still Jackie, way up in Vancouver now, she's my Canadian Valentine. Maybe I'll even make a cake with my son in honor of my grandmother's memory.
Maybe the trick is to stop making this a holiday that reminds me of what I don't have and start making it a day that reminds me of what I do have.
No one's going to be sending me flowers this year...but maybe that's okay because lots of people are sending me love.
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The Sophie Katz Murder Mystery Series,
SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING