Hating Valentine's Day
by Roger S NelsonI woke with a headache when the alarm went off and I slapped it quiet. I turned
on the light on the bed table so I wouldn't go back to sleep, and held my head,
eyes squinting against the light, and peered through half closed eyes at the
calendar on the wall. February 14. Crap! I hate Valentines day. I got up and did
the usual three S's (shit, shave, and shower) as I got ready for work.
called for more snow. Haven't we had enough this year already, I thought. Then,
I hit myself in the head with the palm of my hand. Duh. This is the middle of
winter. In Michigan.
After slipping and sliding to work on the icy roads, and cussing several drivers who refused to go faster than 5 miles per hour, making me late for work, I finally got to my office. What do you know? I was the first one there. Fortunately the boss gave me a spare key, so I let myself in. Then the phone started ringing, and I didn't even have my coat off yet. I worked in a small office with five others handling claims for car insurance, and with the weather today there would be plenty of accidents. At times like this I wish I didn't live in Michigan.
I kicked off my wet shoes and stood in my socks as I took the first call. It was my boss. He wouldn't be in today, his driveway had drifted over and he couldn't get out. No sooner had I hung up when the phone rang again. I tried to log on my computer while I took the call. It was Bill. He wasn't coming in either. Within the next 15 minutes all my fellow employees had called in to say they weren't coming except for Janet. Crappy weather! As I wondered if Janet was coming in, the phone rang again. It was my first accident call of many calls that I would have. I turned my calendar to July and looked at a picture of a pretty Caribbean beach to try to get a little sunshine in my life. How I wished I was there.
While I was still taking calls, Janet came in and brought me a cup of coffee. She smiled at me and said, "Happy Valentines day." Then before I could respond she said, "I hate Valentines day."
I smiled back and chuckled, "Me too." I was really starting to like Janet. The coffee and her smile were the only good things that had happened to me today, and now I find out we have something in common other that our jobs.
Janet had only worked for us a month and I didn't know her very well, but she was my age, and dressed nice and I thought she had a cute face. I liked her long dark hair, and she wore dressy black boots and usually wore a pretty dress or skirt and blouse. Her glasses gave her the look of a librarian. A pretty librarian. I had no idea what her political leanings were, but I thought she looked a little like Sarah Palin. And Janet hated Valentine's day. My kind of woman.
The phone kept ringing and we kept answering calls, there was no way we could actually get out of the office today and look at any of the claims, so we just took names and phone numbers along with other pertinent information and said we would try to get to them later this week.
At noon, Janet asked me if I'd go to lunch with her. I said I brought my lunch, but she said, "It will keep. Come to the deli across the street with me."
"But they're so busy at lunch, we won't be able to get back before one," I said.
She looked at me like I was crazy, and then I realized the deli would be as empty as our office. "OK," I said.
We took the choicest table there. "It looks like we had about 12 inches of snow today," I said.
"So far. More's coming," she said. We practically had to help Sally fix our lunch since she was working alone, but we eventually managed to get a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of chicken noodle soup.
"So why do you hate Valentine's day?" I asked Janet.
"The hypocrisy of it. When we were kids we had to pass out Valentine cards to all the kids in our class, whether we liked them or not. Whether we even knew them or not. And then, if you actually did like someone, they might not like you. Even if you got a card from them, you didn't know if they really meant it or not."
"Yeah," I said. "Or what if you really liked someone, but they were already taken. Did you get them a card anyway?"
"And what about gifts," she said. "You think someone likes you, and you wait all day to get something from them, and nothing comes. The waiting kills me. Of if they get me something I don't like, I have to pretend that I like it anyway."
"Yeah. I hate shopping," I said. "I never know what to get someone. So I get her flowers. Or a balloon, or chocolate, or a nice card, but they aren't me and I just don't know for sure if she really likes them or is just pretending she likes them."
"Valentine's day is pretty dicey," she said, "you can spend a lot of money and not get the return you hoped for."
By the end of lunch, we had bonded somewhat, I really liked her a lot; her no nonsense, direct, approach to things, her pleasant voice, and her thoughtfulness pleased me. I paid for her lunch and tipped Sally double since she wasn't getting any other tips today.
At 5:00 I asked Janet if she would go to dinner with me. I must've done something right today since she accepted and followed me to Sarah's Place, a wonderful restaurant nearby in Lansing, where the atmosphere is cozy, the service great, and the food superb. There was hardly anyone else in the restaurant, and the head waitress, Sandy, practically knocked herself out to please us. We had a really good time together, talking about life and getting to know one another. By the end of the meal, I'd fallen in love with her.
I double tipped Sandy on the way out and when we stepped outside in the cold and snow, I said, "Janet, I hope you don't mind me asking, but would you be my Valentine?" I held my breath, half expecting her to slap me, or run off, since she said she hated Valentine's day. And I couldn't believe I was even asking her, since I felt the same way.
It took less than a second, but she accepted and asked me to be her Valentine. Then we kissed. That was almost two years ago. Now we have twin girls, Valena and Tina. The four of us are very happy. I guess the worst thing about Valentine's Day is not having a valentine.)