After more than forty years of marriage I still dread those three annual occasions – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Susan's birthday – when I am pretty much required to purchase a card for her. The overwhelming majority of cards designed for a guy to give to his wife make me feel embarrassed to be a male. We have the “humorous” category (easily recognized by the bashful cartoon bear on the front) designed for men who are terrified of displaying any hint of having actual emotions. Sometimes this category crosses with a second, the “apology” card – “I know I leave my dirty clothes all over the floor, never take out the garbage and essentially ignore you 364 days out of the year, but at least I bought you this card!” Who are the men who buy these cards? Who are the women who, in receiving such a card, do not tell their husbands what they can do with it?
Then there are the cards that do not know when to shut up. They are festooned with hearts and flowers, and feature a badly-written, sloppy, sentimental romantic poem that runs on and on. And on. If I gave such a card to Susan she would likely run for the bathroom, clutching her stomach. Which is one of the many reasons I love her.
My ideal Valentine’s Day card (which I have never found) would feature a simple, tasteful picture and would say only two things: Happy Valentine’s Day; I love you. So I wade through rack after rack, searching for the card that does not exist, and settle for the least offensive one I can find. The browsing itself is always educational, especially the new categories of cards that keep popping up to address increasingly complex family patterns. I have yet to see a Valentine category labeled “For Your Fourth Wife,” but I am sure it is out there. This morning I saw one on the rack labeled “For a Troubled Relationship.” I was eager to see what such a card would say, but they had sold them all.
I think it is time to buy one of those packs of Valentines designed for children to give to their classmates; the ones that feature cheerful bumblebees saying “Bee My Honey!” One pack would last me the rest of my life, and likely embarrass me a good deal less. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Work and Dementia
2 years ago