Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Valen-mine Day


Valentine’s Day is never about the guy in the relationship. It’s always about the girl. Flowers, heart-shaped jewelry, heart-shaped chocolate, flowery greetings, flowery dinners . . . Just look at the lines in grocery stores on Valentine’s Day -- no women, just men waiting to buy flowers that’ll die in a week, chocolate that’ll never be eaten, teddy bears that’ll just get donated, cards with glitter that’ll make an unruly mess . . . Men are expected to do for women, but what do women do for men?

This year, Valentine’s Day is taking a turn in my house. It’s going to be for me. That’s what I was thinking anyway, until my wife asked if we could go on a romantic weekend trip, which means we’re going no matter what. So much for the “for me” idea.

A romantic Valentine’s weekend trip should be nice, even for a guy. However, it never is. I can never have peace.

The cost of the hotel on Valentine’s weekend and the expensive dinners are enough to ruin any sense of mental calm. Then you’ve got the cost of a babysitter for the weekend, the cost of valet parking and the unfair cost of buy-one-dozen-and-only-get-a-half-dozen roses -- typical for this time of year.

Here’s the worst: For the past 10 years that my wife and I have been married, hotels have put us in rooms next to the ice machine. How romantic is that?

“I love you so—”

Ger-uggggggggg. (That’s the sound of an ice machine, which echoes through the room every 15 minutes throughout the night, usually accompanied with drunken or juvenile laughter.)

Nevertheless, there was no debate about going or not going on the trip this weekend. I just booked a room. I did it for my wife. But I set out to plan the trip with “me” in mind.

The first thing I did: I told the hotel clerk, “No ice maker!” Then I told the wife, “No flowers!” I said I’d get her some next week when they go back down to half the price. Then I told her that for every boutique store she dragged me through, we’d have to pay a visit to a brewery or something cool like that.

The Valentine’s Day card I picked out for my wife: no glitter, no flowery hearts and no flowery prose. It was straightforward: “I love you, Wife.” And that was it.

The trip was shaping up nicely. I got my in-laws to watch our 7-year-old for free. The clerk at the hotel was really nice. She gave me all kinds of discounts -- even a discount just for having unpleasant stays we’d had at other hotel chains.

And then reality came into view. I added up the costs. Wow, that became a small fortune really fast. I made the mistake of voicing my frustrations with my wife. By the time I realized my error, I’d already killed the excitement she had for the trip.

So I called the hotel clerk and cancelled my arrangements. I had a nice talk with her. She told me how husbands are always screwing up with their wives at this time of year, but said apologizing is what makes it Valentine’s Day. She asked if I still wanted to cancel the room -- this was a minion of Valentine’s Day to the death.

So I apologized to my wife, but it was really for her, not for me -- I truly felt bad about ruining Valentine’s Day. When she accepted my apology, I rebooked the room and got the trip back in order. I even bought some really expensive flowers, a new card that had glitter, flowery hearts and flowery prose, and I threw out my straightforward card and cancelled the walking tour of the missile site I really wanted to see while on the trip. Like old times, I even got the room next to the ice machine.

“I don’t get it,” my wife said to me. “These are all things that make you miserable. Why would I be happy if you’re in misery?”

“I’ll have one thing that makes me most happy,” I said.

“What, me?” she said with playful mockery in her voice.

“No,” I responded.

“No?” she exclaimed, unpleasantly surprised.

“I’ll have your happiness.” It was corny, but it was honest. And fitting for Valentine’s Day.

“I still don’t get why you wanted the room next to the ice maker,” she said.

“Well,” I responded, “by now I’d say we’re able to tune out the sound. Besides, the only other room is next to the elevators.”

-February 2011

1 comment:

FRANK M HANSEN said...

Love your writing. Not sure how you pull it all together into a story and drop in so much humor but you do. There are very few people who can do this as well as you. Keep it going.