Call me cynical in my old age. Call me unromantic. Call me anti-love. Call me anything you want, but I hate Valentine's Day. It is such a joke. Shouldn't we be showering our wives with love and praise all year, and not on just one particular day?
So yesterday at lunch I journey over to the local store. Yes, I hate Valentine's Day so much I waited until the day of Valentine's Day to actually shop for it. And I wasn't alone, I counted at least 50 other guys, and 2 women, doing their last minute V-Day shopping too.
The flower department was filled with guys that can only be described as looking like zombies from some undead movie, milling around with blank stares in their eyes. Whether they were young, and in brand new relationships, old and married forever, or somewhere in between, none of us had a clue as to what we were doing. Should I get the single red rose? How about the bouquet of carnations? What about the potted lillies?
My daughter was easy. A "Happy Valentine's Day" helium balloon. She loves those things. I decided that the balloon for my daughter, along with a card was sufficient. I would get the wife a card, and take her to dinner. Done.
So I venture over to the cards. Where 30 of the 50 guys I mentioned, and the 2 women, were crammed into an aisle's worth of space. Jockeying for position. "Excuse me." "Pardon me." "Don't mind me reaching around you, please." It was like one being with 32 heads, 64 arms and hands, getting in its own way. And no one was smiling.
Further, forget the labels for the cards. Kids cards were where the "For Wives" cards should have been. Naughty cards were were religious-themed cards should have been. Sifting through hundreds of cards became harder because as the 32 headed monster rejected a card, it jammed the card into any convenient slot it could find. Those cards have been out for at least a month, so you have multiple days of multiple 32 headed monsters arranging the cards in random order.
I settle on the wife's card right away. A nice $4.49 piece of cardboard that voiced my appreciation for the blessing that she is. What I could have said for free, I paid Hallmark nearly $5 to say for me.
The kid's card was tougher. Again, just finding them was tough. But once I did they were all geared towards older daughters. "I remember when you made my V-Day's cards from construction paper" one said. My daughter is 7, she still does that. Another talked about her being my little angel, but that what I didn't know won't hurt me. Uhhh, not exactly the kind of morals I am trying to instill in her.
Finally, after 15 minutes of searching, I settle on a puppy card. She loves puppies and dogs, so I know I can always fall back on a card with one of those. And it said: "Have a Happy Valentine's Day". Perfect. And a bargain at $2.49.
While searching for her card, one of the heads over heard my head telling my coworker's head "I hate this holiday." All 32 of the heads, even the 2 female heads, nodded approval. And then a discussion about how it is just a holiday to make greeting card companies rich broke out. The heads started frothing at the mouth when the discussion turned to Sweetest Day. (For those not in or from Michigan, look up that doozy of a holiday!)
I then went to check out, where the balloon refused to ring up at the Do-It-Yourself scanner. The attendant came over and had to type in her codes, and then the balloon's code. When it popped up for $4.99 on the monitor the attendant decided to go into color commentator mode: "That balloon is $5?" I looked at her through a fake, toothy smile, and muttered, "Yes, I guess it is." Inside I was thinking "it is your employer that is gouging me for some cellophane and helium!"
As I walked out, $20 lighter, I realized all over again why I hate Valentine's Day. And when I realized I would be standing in the lobby of a local seafood place that night, for an hour, waiting for a table, I just couldn't wait for February 15th to get here.
At least I was able to pick up some light-bulbs while I was out, so the trip to the store wasn't a total loss.