Rick Wamre: Why, for some of us suckers, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with doomsday

Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Photo by Danny Fulgencio

A co-worker says Valentine’s Day killed two of his dating relationships; he says he broke up with his then-girlfriends on the day itself when he realized he just didn’t care enough about these women to keep dating them.

From a guy’s standpoint (or at least this guy’s standpoint), what he did was a noble gesture. Rather than pretend to think something he didn’t, he told the truth on a day when the truth should count for something.

After my wife and I were married, I became obsessed not with turning Valentine’s Day into a personal romantic showcase, but with avoiding friendly fire on that day for not being romantic enough, something that just seems to come naturally to me.

From the women’s standpoint, I imagine the feeling wasn’t necessarily mutual, at least not at that date and moment in time, because who wants to hear the truth about a relationship just prior to some expected wining and dining?

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My own Valentine’s Day history is checkered with less-than-romantic incidents, so I know of what I speak.

After my wife and I were married, I became obsessed not with turning Valentine’s Day into a personal romantic showcase, but with avoiding friendly fire on that day for not being romantic enough, something that just seems to come naturally to me.

Scheduling a wildly expensive dinner at a dress-up restaurant initially seemed like a safe bet, and our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple was spent under the twinkling lights of a tree growing partially inside said restaurant.

The setting was romantic, the company divine, but another known shortcoming of mine reared its ugly head during the appetizer. My wife can tell you now that the more expensive the meal, the more antsy and disagreeable I become as I watch food masquerading in my mind as $20 or $50 bills floating in on a plate and then just as quickly floating away from the table and from my wallet.

And when I became antsy about money, I became distracted from conversation. When that happened, my wife wanted to know what was wrong, and I resisted telling her for her own protection. She asked again, and I resisted again because I didn’t want to make her mad or spoil her fun. Then she dug deeper because she didn’t know why I wouldn’t tell her, and I started to grump because I couldn’t believe I was spending all this money just to have a bad time, so I told her what I was thinking. And then she figuratively reached across the table with her eyes and tried to strangle me because she knew the pricey dinner was my idea.

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On this particularly memorable night, we made it to the car without bloodshed, although my grumpiness provoked her to grumpiness during the meal. And then somewhere on the drive home, as we continued discussing the meal, I said something that double-grumped her enough that she ordered me to stop the car so she could get out and walk home.

I kid you not.

Even as a self-anointed loving and supportive husband, I admit that my first thought wasn’t to roll down the window and beg her to hop back in the car, even though I’m sure she was justified; instead, I was hacked enough to consider speeding away to see how much of the hockey game I could catch on TV.

But again, that was only my first thought. And after some silent obscenities and after pondering various scenarios — all of which seemed to end with me impaled on a broom handle — I lowered the car window while creeping down the street, and like a good and chastened husband, I begged her to get back in the car.

After some more lively discussion, she eventually agreed, and I’m pleased to say that after many happy years and more mature behavior on my part, we’ve never again celebrated a Valentine’s Day with one person in a moving vehicle and another walking beside it.

Over the years, regardless of what has or has not been spent on a holiday seemingly invented by greeting card companies and florists, the ones we’ve enjoyed the most are the ones where we’ve just been together, period.

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And she’s just fine with that. So far.

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