There was a time, a lifetime ago, when getting together on Valentine's Day was the height of irony. "Let's go out and find Mister and Missus Right and get them married." We refused to imagine that someday we might be sending flowers to each other and celebrating with great big hearts. And yet, that is precisely where we find ourselves a quarter century later. I know who my Valentine is and though we still snicker at all the outward trappings of the experience, we have surrendered to the Hallmarkness of it all.
There was a time when I felt that I understood Charlie Brown and his suffering more than those who were able to make a love connection with that little red-haired girl or boy. To protect myself, I kept a cynical edge to all my interactions from late January through mid-February. I could not imagine things working out. Or could I?
I drew cards. I wrote poems. And yes, I bought flowers, only to have them received with words like "You shouldn't have." Meaning: You shouldn't have. Really. In their eyes I was coming on a little too strong. That's not the way they thought of me. We should be just good friends.
Which is about the time that I started hanging around with this girl on Valentine's Day who shared my disdain for all of this romantic tomfoolery. We would hang out and watch couples pair off, holding on to our valiant front, assuring anyone who listened that it was all just made up and it would end badly before two weeks were up. March would bring a fresh new awareness of the futility of love and all those schnooks would toss out all those heart-shaped boxes and bury the tacky jewelry at the bottom of a drawer someplace.
Until the next year, when hope for romance would fill the air and several aisles at Target. My wife and I maintain a healthy skepticism about this holiday, but at the same time, we have to surrender to whatever magic there may be, because way back when those were happy Valentine's Days even if they were a little tongue in cheek. And it couldn't hurt that it is a chocolate-centric holiday.