Oh! My funny Valentine!

Valentine’s Day! Chocolates and cupids, hugs and kisses, champagne and…more champagne. Right?

Not so much around here these past three days. Still, I believe firmly that no matter how very bad things get, there’s always a bright side, always a laugh hidden somewhere amidst the crumpled tissues.

Yesterday, after hours at the doctor’s office, a laugh presented itself that had me giggling all the way home.

[Sometime in the next week, I’ll write a post about the second worst day of my life so far, but for now, this is the laugh that made yesterday tolerable.]

I’d taken Peter to see Dr. T for a follow-up to, um, what happened Sunday. Suspecting a possible UTI (urinary tract infection), at the end of the consultation Peter was ushered to the restroom to provide a specimen…you know…pee in a bottle.

I sat in a chair at the side of the lab to wait. And wait. When the nurse walked around the corner I asked if he was still in there? I thought maybe he was out of my line of sight waiting for lab results or maybe they were drawing blood too.

She nodded a bit frantically. “Should I try to get him out?” she asked.

“Yes, or I will if you want,” I said. I got up and walked into the lab just after she knocked on the toilet door. Peter popped out holding a nearly overflowing cup. There was something in his other hand and he had a silly look on his face as he walked toward me.

“Are you OK?” I asked. “What’s in your hand?”

He showed me. Although he couldn’t explain — words fail him most of then time these days — apparently he’d been waiting for someone to tell him to come out, so he’d amused himself by folding paper towels into hats.

OMG, how I laughed! If ever there was a time for bathroom humor this was it.

Header photo: Peter’s paper hat or maybe it was his attempt to make me a Valentine?

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

 

 

Sweet talk.

Valentine’s Day crept on me, but I decided not to rush out to buy a card for my husband. Instead we’d go to our favorite spot for coffee. Oh, yes, I did cut a big heart out of newspaper and put it in his chair this morning and, yes, I did leave a message on his little white board. He didn’t notice either of them.

When I suggested we go to Our Daily Bread, his eyes lit up. We walked so I could justify one of their beautifully decorated heart-shaped sugar cookies. The place was bustling, as always, and even at 9:30 we were too late to get Valentine cookies. Peter eyed a strawberry-studded chocolate gateau, but in the end, we settled on our favorite apple turnovers.

After repeating his usual questions several times — “any news from upstate? ” and “how’s the big guy?” — he wanted to know what he could say that wasn’t the same old thing.

“How about ‘Happy Valentine’s Day?'” I said.

“When is it?”

“Today.”

“I didn’t know,” he said. He patted my hand and shook his head.

“Oh well, this is better than a card anyway. Two apple turnovers and two coffees for only eight dollars and forty-six cents.”

“Cheaper than a card,” he said.

“You’re a cheap date,” I told him.

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Header photo: My mom’s heart-shaped dish always holds “sweethearts” in February.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

Forever — is composed of nows —

For my husband to give me a meaningful card for our anniversary was present enough. But coupled with heart-shaped earrings in a beautiful little box, WOW!  With Leslie’s help — she offered him three choices — he picked the earrings and the handcrafted box to put them in. He doesn’t remember our Boxing Day anniversary, nor how many years we’ve been married, but some glimmer helped him choose perfectly.

When I opened the Leslie-wrapped present, he hung over my shoulder to see what he’d given me and why. “Our anniversary? Did I forget?” I said he hadn’t, and that the box and earrings were what he’d given me.

“I did a good job, didn’t I?” he said. “Did you give me something?”

“I did. That card on the mantle…and shoes.”

“Shoes? You gave me shoes?”

I laughed. “Two pair yesterday,” I said.

“Why?”

“Why did I give you shoes, or why did I give you two pair?

“Yes.”

“”Well, shoes because you’ve been complaining you don’t have any, and one pair because it was Christmas and the other pair as an early anniversary present…”

“Anniversary? Did I miss it?”

“No, it’s today, it’s ‘now,'” I said. I held the box up to show him Emily Dickinson’s line.

He shook his head. “I don’t know what that means.”

Hm, Dickinson is sometimes hard to explain. “It means ‘now’ should be treasured and celebrated, our anniversary, for instance. ‘Now’ means the present…right now…’forever’ is made of all our ‘nows.'”

I don’t think my stumbling explanation made sense to him, but he was pleased that I was pleased with “the present” he chose.

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Birdseye maple box, Mike Mikutowski Wood-working. Lapis lazuli earrings header above, Cathy Guss

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

 

 

‘Consider yourself reminded.’

He stood at the kitchen table and puzzled over the red envelope I’d tucked inside the morning paper. “Is it my birthday?” he asked as he opened the card. It showed two goldfish smiling at each other from their side-by-side bowls. When he jumps into her bowl they live happily ever after, presumably.

Right month, wrong date. “No, Valentine’s Day,” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you remind me?”

happy-dancing-red-heart-cartoon-isolated-on-white-background-valentine-s-day-greeting-three-dimensional-character-render_123656113I pointed to his message board where I’d put frolicking red hearts every day this past week. He shook his head and shrugged his apology. In fairness, the card isn’t a Valentine, strictly speaking. It’s teal and gold, not red and pink, and it’s a general purpose card about happiness. It could be a birthday card.

I picked it because of the goldfish. They’re known to have exceptionally short attention spans. Peter is my goldfish.

Leslie, on the other hand, delivered a red and pink, glitter-encrusted card that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day…consider yourself reminded.” She often reminds me to be as direct as possible with my husband, no complicated explanations, no double meanings. He had no trouble remembering  she’d brought a shiny red, heart-shaped box of chocolates. We each had one with our breakfast porridge.

I said it was OK that he didn’t remember the day. “You gave me the best present Wednesday…”

“I did? What was it?” He looked pleased with himself.

“…extra-special hugs after our dinner at India Garden.”

“Why’d I do that?”

“We hadn’t been there in a while. You cleaned your plate and mine, it tasted that good to you.”

“I don’t remember.”

“We’ll go again before too long. Maybe I’ll get more hugs…?” I batted my eyes.

He took the hint and hugged me. “Don’t get used to this,” he said, as I knew he would.

Maybe there’s something to be said for predictability.

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Chocolates for breakfast. What a way to start the day.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

‘Laughing all the way…’

“You’ve made my tea!” Peter had just come back from walking Nobby. He was surprised because I don’t usually make his multiple morning cups of tea.

“Yes, Leslie is coming by to pick you up in twenty minutes. She’s taking you shopping.”

“Why? Do I need to go shopping?”

“You don’t need to, but you always like to look,” I said. “You don’t have to buy anything.”

He grinned. “Oh, I get it. You put her up to this, didn’t you?”

“Nope. She just called and said she was taking you out. It’ll be fun.”

“Well, I love ya’ anyway, don’t I?” he said as he came towards me, arms outstretched for a hug.

I stalled him by pulling his jacket open to check if his shirt was clean. “Oh, you look good!” I said, surprised.

Without so much as a pause, he yanked my hoodie open, gave me his lecherous glance, and said, “You do too, Darlin’!”

I doubled over with laughter. He hasn’t forgotten how to lay it on. With his hug I handed him a generous supply of cash. Just in case he, you know, wanted to buy anything for anyone…for Christmas.


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Header photo: Collection of my mother’s christmas cards.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

 

My funny Valentine.

By our first Valentine’s Day together, 1975, I’d already learned that my future — seven years in the future! — husband Peter wasn’t going to be the mushy-gushy Valentine type. He often did sweet things, but he disliked intensely having to do something because the calendar or Hallmark demanded it.

I was a bit disappointed he hadn’t even bought me a card, but he redeemed himself when he suggested a walk in the park, in the fresh snow, near my house. He was not a snow-lover like me so he was back in my good graces for even thinking of it.

After we’d walked over hill and dale for a while he told me to stop. I was to stand still and face away from him.  He trotted off while I admired the view. Minutes ticked by.

“OK! Turn around!” he yelled.  He stood some distance away, pointing proudly to a big heart shape he’d paced off in the snow. In the center he’d “written”  I love you. Way better than any card he might have purchased!

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I didn’t expect any Valentine’s remembrance today, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. I stuck a silly card inside the newspaper for him and he laughed. He gave me a hug and kiss to say sorry for forgetting again. “You should have reminded me,” he said.

“What? The big red heart on your calendar wasn’t enough?” I said with a chuckle. “It’s OK, you can take me for coffee.” I handed him some cash.

We went to our favorite spot where I feasted on an almond croissant, he, an apple turnover. The bakery was more mobbed than usual for a Saturday morning. A festively dressed man played romantic songs on a keyboard.

“Do you remember our very first Valentine’s day together?” I asked my husband of now thirty-three years. “It was 1975…we met in May the year before…”

“Did we have coffee here?” he guessed.

No-o, we weren’t even married then, and we didn’t live here anyway.”

“How can you remember that? I don’t even remember yesterday?” he sputtered.

So I told him about the heart he’d made in the snow and how sweet, how romantic, it was. He shook his head sadly and gave me an apologetic smile. Suddenly he brightened and asked, with a nod towards the musician, “Does he take requests?”

“I’m sure he would,” I said.

He sighed. “I can’t remember any romantic songs to ask him…”

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source Pinterest

We haven’t had any measurable snow yet this year, though it is snowing quite hard right this minute, and it’s sticking! Maybe later I’ll repeat the story about our first Valentine’s day, and together we can make a snowy heart in our backyard.

As long as we have memories, yesterday remains;
As long as we have hope, tomorrow waits;
As long as we have love, today is beautiful.

Header photo: Knock-out rose.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.