When it comes to valentines, make mine chocolate.
Lost to history is the name of the guy who came up with the idea of giving his sweetheart a red-satin heart-shaped box of chocolates on Valentine's Day. What a GREAT idea! I'd send him a thank-you note if only I knew who he was.
Red roses are a nice Valentine's Day gift, too, but roses fade and die, while I'm pretty sure I'm still carrying on my thighs the first heart-shaped box of Valentine's Day chocolates husband Ray gave to me when we were sophomores in high school. I have always suspected that he ate the four chocolates in the middle of the box because he replaced them with a gold-plated ID bracelet engraved with my name. Although it's been broken for decades, I still have that bracelet, and every time I see it in my jewelry box, it makes me think of chocolate ... and love ... pretty much in that order.
While we were growing up, Valentine's Day was a big deal for my sisters and me because it meant so much to Mom and Dad. Dad customarily gave Mom earrings and a lacy ribbon-bedecked card addressed to "Wa'am" or "Poochlip." She always made him a cherry pie with a heart cut out of the top crust. Her card to him was inscribed "To My Honey" or "Darling."
I never learned to bake a pie (Mrs. Smith does that for me, although her cherry pies cannot compare to Mom's). Still, one long ago Valentine's Day, I made Ray a 12-inch cinnamon candy heart with lifesaver eyes, gumdrop nose and licorice smile. I don't remember if he was impressed with my confection, but I DO remember that is the day I learned that Ray absolutely abhors licorice.
Long before Ray, there was another boy who briefly caught my eye -- and I apparently caught his. At our third- grade valentine party, I was thrilled to learn he had addressed his entire box of valentine cards to ME -- all 30 of them. I even let him walk me home after the party (wouldn't you?), but all I now remember about him is that his name was Jerry and he had black hair. Yet I'm confident he's out there somewhere with a wife who is an ecstatic woman because, if he was like that as a boy, as a man he must be an INCREDIBLE romantic.
My friend Rosemarie is another romantic at heart, so Valentine's Day gives her the opportunity to pull out all the stops for amour. Several years ago, she decided to give her husband a special Valentine's Day surprise. She arranged scented candles around the hot tub and placed a bottle of wine and two goblets nearby. When she decided to start a fire in the fireplace, she discovered she needed to retrieve some wood from the shed.
Hot tub. Candles. Wine. Sounds good so far, doesn't it? However, the walk leading to the shed was ice-covered and Rosemarie was dressed in new lingerie, fishnet stockings and spiked heels. Living in the country has certain advantages, e.g., you don't have to get dressed to go outside, and she didn't. She was carrying the wood back to the house when one spiked heel skated out from under her and she landed at the bottom of a pile of logs, ripping one fishnet stocking, cutting her leg and hurting her hip.
I prioritize the damage the way Rosemarie did when she told me the story. Her main concerns were that she had ruined her stocking and that blood was staining her new lingerie. She limped back to the house, tended to her stocking and then to her wound. I only hope her husband kissed away her tears and appreciated her effort; she didn't say, but I'm guessing he did because they're still married.
Rosemarie's experience effectively eliminated any thought I might have involving spiked heels and fishnet stockings. As a romantic, I fear I'm a dud! Ray, on the other hand, is a quixotic guy, although I'm not sure he would waste a whole box of valentines on me. He has, however, given me multiple cards when he finds several he likes and can't decide between them.
A card I'd like to see this Valentine's Day is the one my friend Bev gave to her husband of 50-plus years. On a recent anniversary, instead of giving him a hearts-and-flowers, lovey-dovey card, she gave him one that put him on notice: "You're still on trial."
Maybe so, but I think he'll always be her King of Hearts.
Happy Valentine's Day to my own King of Hearts and to lovers everywhere. It's your day. Celebrate with chocolate!