Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day

Okay, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. I have to admit, I’m a party pooper. There are no decorations in my house, and except for the cards my kids buy to give their friends, we don’t do anything special. In fact, I try to avoid the holiday and have found that by doing so, it works out better.

You might find this weird, given that I’m a romance writer. As I write this, I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever even used Valentine’s Day in a book. Maybe, but if so, it’s a blur. Not like the ones I did for Christmas, like Unwrapping Mr. Wright and The Christmas Date. Those are crystal clear.

Since I’ve spent all but nine years of my life single, most of my Valentine’s days have been as a singleton. They’re filled with all sorts of mishaps. There’s Steve who sent me flowers, and the florist never delivered them. So here’s poor Steve waiting for me to call all gushing…and that didn’t happen. He finally asked me, all disappointed, a day or two later what I thought of his gift. I had no idea what he was talking about. Oops.

Then there was the Valentine’s Day that I was supposed to go to dinner. Gene scheduled dinner at eight at this really posh restaurant, but I was chaperoning a school dance that night. I told him that, reminded him, and basically I ended up double booked as the dance didn’t end until nine and once I got there, I found I couldn’t leave early as I’d hoped. We ended up eating at ten-thirty—crammed in a table near the restaurant kitchen door. Oops. Thank goodness he didn’t mind and forgave me, although it wasn’t the evening he’d planned.

You have to admit, Valentine’s Day is a lot of pressure, especially for the guys. A romance hero would get it right, but somehow, in my life it doesn’t work out that way. My favorite Valentine’s Days was spent with my friend Jenny. Here we were, two dateless losers. I was young, next-to-broke and not about to be paid for another week, and really, we had not much to do. So she suggested Bingo. She was going with her mom and grandmother, and invited me along. I was down to my last $25 and here we were in our 20s—everyone else was at least 50. The hall was full of intense bingo players, and we sat with Jenny’s mom and grandmother and their bingo friends. They tossed bingo markers my way, and we were off. Except for playing in grade school, and one time watching my parents in eighth grade, I had no idea what “real” bingo was like.

It was wild. It went fast. We had a pile of “bring your own” snacks on the table, and plastic cups filled with beer or soda from the bar. The women around me were watching a minimum of ten cards. I had three—all I could afford and all I could manage. And then it happened. I had all but I-27 for bingo. The woman next to me leaned over and put a clear square tile over the number. “The minute you hear that, you yell,” she said.

Two numbers later, I was shouting BINGO! I won $100, which was a lot of money and a very nice way to tide me over to payday. That was a very good Valentine’s Day indeed—and I’ve never played Bingo since.

This year I’m spending Valentine’s Day in the back row of the FHHS auditorium, where the drama club is doing a 7 PM showing of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. My thirteen year old daughter is meeting friends, and since where I work is 45 minutes from my house, I’ll simply hang out with the other teachers present while she goes and pretends not to know me. Sounds perfect to me.

So now it’s your turn. What’s your best memory of Valentine’s Day? How are you spending it? Do tell….


As OnTV said...

Yep,it’s almost Valentine’s Day. I don't have any plans so far.

EllenToo said...

My memories of Valentine's Day go all the way back to the days when both my parents were still alive. My dad would always be sure that each of us kids had flowers to give our mom and he had candy for her and us kids. The flowers were special because we each got to pick out two flowers each at the florist so she got six flowers each year. Dad also made sure each kid had a small box of candy.

Michele Dunaway said...


That's so sweet!


Michele Dunaway said...

As on Tv,

I hope you have a great valentines day no matter what your plans.

Gillian Layne said...

Ellen, that is just charming!

I like Valentines low key. Hubby spending any money on non-necessities this year would stress me out, and all I'd really like is a steak--he can cook!--and a foot rub.