“You get away cheap on Valentine’s Day!” she would quip with a smile.
Carnations were her favorite flower. Not roses. Carnations.
Long stem reds and whites wrapped in that paper that goes inside flower boxes with a bow, a card and delivered by the flower shop. Some years, when the day was on the weekend, I would pick them up myself, the florist jammed with guys picking up roses.
There were always the guys who forgot the day. “Sorry but we don’t have any more roses available. Want some carnations?”.
I didn’t have that problem. She loved carnations. I was indeed a lucky man.
Picking out just the right greeting card however always took some time. It had to be just right. She always knew exactly what to send me. I had to be equal to the task. She had to know I put some thought into it.
One year she decided that we would have a Valentine’s Day contest.
“Let’s see which of us can find the absolute worst Valentine’s Day card!”
How to judge?
“It has to be ugly beyond belief and have the worst possible “poem”.
It had to be “My God, how could anyone send that to someone they love??” ugly.
How do we decide the winner?
“We’ll decide. We’re both people of good taste aren’t we? At least one of us! ”
And what do I get if I win ?
“Anything you like perve!” as she wiggled her ass up the stairs looking over her left shoulder. She had told me more than once that she only married me to keep me from molesting young women on the subway. Doing her bit for humanity. Men are such pigs.
And what do you get, asks I?
Bigger smile. “Anything I want; for as long as I want!!”.
“Game on sweet cheeks!”
So the weekend before Valentine’s Day I’m in all the places that sell greeting cards. I pass on the likes of Hallmark (too tasteful) and hit joints like the Dollar Store. Waiting ‘till the last minute assures me that only the crap is left and anything decent has been purchased.
Thumbing through I look for ugliness. I flip open the card and look at the number of lines in the “poetry”. The longer the better. Anything too short is immediately rejected.
And then, like Max Bialystok first seeing Springtime for Hitler I hold it in my hand.
It’s ugly. Not the worst, but it’s ugly.
Inside. Inside it’s a treasure.
It’s awful. Just awful. And it goes on….and on….and on!
Methinks to myself “We have a winner!” I can start planning her Valentine’s Day bedding.
On “the day” she gets her carnations (kisses for me), makes my favorite dinner (kisses for her) and afterwards over a glass of vino we exchange cards.
She reads mine. “My God! This is awful! And it goes on like War and Peace!!”
“But”. Uh oh.
“It could be a bit more ugly.”
I opened hers I’m stunned.
It’s black. BLACK! A black Valentine’s Day card!! It looks more like a Sympathy card!! For a moment I think I’m going down.
I open it and read it. It too is dreadful. But it has a saving grace. It’s short.
“It’s awful. Ugly. The poem however could be worse. It’s not as bad as mine. It’s short!”.
She practically coughs wine through her nose.
“But mine’s black! Black!! I win!”
“No I’m sorry. The verse in my card is so bad and so long it makes up for your black card!”
We have more wine. Antonio Carlos Jobim is singing “tus besos nunca mas” in the background.
“Ok it’s a draw.”
“But what about “the prizes”?
“I get what I want anyway!” says she. “After all it is Valentine’s Day”
“And besides, you men always get what you want!”
She slinks up the stairs. “Coming…. honey?”
As I write this Jobim is singing in the background – “tus besos nunca mas…..te quiero”.
Happy Valentine’s Day.