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Valentine's Day cad


Don’t think me a hater, but … I abhor Valentine’s Day. Abohrers gonna abhor.

It’s not a reflection on my sweetie, mind you. I so do not abhor her (abher?). In fact, I’m rather fond of her.

My loathing is directed instead at the holiday itself, a crass, commercialized money-grab that makes all the other crass, commercialized money-grab holidays — Christmas, Grandparent’s Day, Arbor Day — look genuine by comparison. I’m convinced only a slim minority actually enjoys VD. The vast majority agonize over what to do/buy to prove our love; lament that we’re not loved as much as we love; or unnecessarily bemoan our lonely plights.

Meanwhile, the card-makers, jewelers, chocolatiers and florists make out like bandits as everybody else only can hope to, well, just make out.

I consider VD gifts to be something like a Rorschach test, more a reflection of the giver than the givee.

I have to say I’ve given some memorable Valentine’s gifts.

One year, I made a shoe-box mailbox like we used to make in grade school. Then I bought boxes of the cheesiest packaged Valentines I could find — we’re talking dozens, if not hundreds — and on each one wrote a different cheesy VD message: Love you. Stuck on you. Be mine. Holla. Then I stuffed ’em inside the box and put up the flag. I was quite proud, though I recall the reception wasn’t quite as warm as I had hoped.

Recently, I got a bunch of pewter hearts — or maybe they were lead or mercury; nothing says I love you like blood poisoning — and hid them so they’d be discovered throughout the day: by the sink when she was getting ready; at her place where she ate breakfast; in the seat of her car; in her workout clothes so they’d fall out when she changed for her lunchtime workout. At least I got a Facebook shoutout for that one.

But I’ve also had my share of clunkers. Too often I went the flower-and-chocolate route. Other VD gifts were so meh, even I can’t remember what they were.

Thus the Rorschach evaluation of me seems pretty accurate: inconsistent at best.

Which brings me to my wife. She’s thoughtful, practical and deliberate, and her gifts reflect that. (Not to mention loving and beautiful and smart and pretty and … )

This year, for instance, she decided to get me a new remote keypad for our garage-door opener. I know this because I mentioned the other day that I was headed to the hardware store to buy one, and once I chipped enough of the resulting frost off my face to ask why the temperature in our house had dropped about 7,500 degrees Kelvin, she informed me that it was because maybe somebody else — one of the countless many suitors lining up in hopes of being my Valentine — already had decided to get me a new remote keypad for our garage-door opener for Valentine’s Day and, without saying so, suggested that buying one for myself would ruin, well, just about everything.

So I didn’t, and she did, and a couple of days later, there at my place at the dinner table I found — surprise! — a new remote keypad for our garage-door opener.

A lesser woman might have been deterred, scrapping the idea and resorting to Plan B, but not my wife. She realized just how much a new remote keypad for our garage-door opener would mean to me.

Ever since I got the old one, I regretted it. In a word, it sucked. The trouble is, our garage-door opener is so old — I think it originally was powered by a couple of oxen plodding around a pole — there are only a very few remote keypads that can be retrofitted to make it work. The one I bought was a pain to program and fickle to operate. I couldn’t begin to count how many times over the past several years the infernal thing would start to open the door, then stop. I’d push a button, and it would reverse. Push another, it’d start to open again. Then stop. Push. Reverse. Stop. Push. Open. Stop. Or it wouldn’t accept the open code, blinking its little lights so tauntingly I seethed every single one of the 10 seconds I had to wait before I could try to enter the code again.

I’m generally not the type to get angry at inanimate objects, but that thing made me so angry, not a week went by that I didn’t consider ripping the thing from the wall and buying another.

But I never did.

Recently, however, it went belly-up for good, and because all our handheld remotes are in our cars, I had to make sure I had some alternate way into our house whenever I rode my bike anywhere. It was inconvenient, at best, to cram my mess of keys into a jean pocket for my commutes to work, and on more than one occasion I almost forgot. Once I had to throw a log under the closing garage door (I’d press the inside button and race the door whenever I exited; the opener is so old, it doesn’t have electronic sensors to keep it from closing on obstructions) because I remembered just as I hit the driveway.

I feared I’d be locked out of the house at 2 in the morning or, worse yet, in the middle of the day with nobody around to let me in.

I know I could have had a spare house key made, or stuffed a handheld remote in a bike saddle bag, but that would require a calculated purposefulness that’s well beyond me.

So, yeah, in this case, a remote keypad for our garage-door opener was just about the bestest gift anybody could ever give me.

Meanwhile, she’s off the hook for this year, and I’m still wrigglin’ on it.


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