Valentine’s Day

     I’m sitting here this morning pondering over Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t what I expected or had planned, failed to meet the romantic standards I had set for it, but surprised me with a gift that today I realize made it perfect just the same. A gift that’s hard to compete with on any level.

     I’d purchased a pair of sassy, blood red, 4 ½ inch pumps for this very occasion some two months ago. My intention was to look fabulous for one damn night, even if it was at the expense of my lower back—which I have sciatica problems with. Okay, I admit I’m not beyond punishing my body, and am more than willing to tolerate the pain and lay with my feet propped up on pillows for several days, if it means looking terrific for a mere, few hours. I’m a housewife, live in sweats, and I’m entitled once in a while, aren’t I? I was going to look fabulous, dress my normally, Harley tee shirt-blue jeans-and-work boots clad husband accordingly, and make him take me out on the town for a great dinner and some drinks. Doesn’t that sound fun? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

     The first wrench thrown in to foul up this fantasy was the weather. I realized even after it started warming up some that it was just not going to cooperate with my wardrobe: It went from snow up to the knees to piles of sludge. At first I was pissy, cussing aloud at my great misfortune and wondering who the hell came up with the clever decision to have this holiday in February. I have no doubt that it wasn’t someone from the Midwest and definitely not a woman. After all, Valentine’s Day is all about romance…and let’s face it…really for the women. It should be celebrated in May when the weather is pleasant, more cooperative, and women can look their loveliest. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hard to look lovely when your lips are blue, your nose is red, you’re knee-deep in shit, and swaddled in a parka! I decided at last it was probably a not-so-bright rebel, and a man no less; heaved a great, accepting sigh, and decided to try and make the best of it. I would just dress down and go out. Whatever. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

     My husband changed those plans and actually came up with a pretty brilliant one that I couldn’t refuse. He had to run East out of town to do some touch-ups to a completed job (he’s a drywall finisher), said I should tag along since he only had to put in an hour or so, I could do a little thrift store shopping (which I love), we would stop in Winterset on the way back to see the covered bridges and take in some lunch (which I’ve always wanted to do and never got around to), and spend the entire day together. I’m more than willing to pass up a fancy dinner and some drinks for this one! Doesn’t that sound like fun? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

     Know what I did? I stayed home and cleaned house because my 17 year old, son wanted to invite his new girlfriend over for Valentine’s Day to meet us and spend time with her. Know what happened? Neither of them came. He went to her house. The day and our plans were a bust. The dinner with them we planned at the last minute was a bust. My husband was livid. He got me in the truck, said to hell with it we were going out to dinner, stopped in to talk to my son for a few minutes, and we were off to the big city…sweatshirts and all.

      He took me to Applebee’s because he knows I love their Parmesan Shrimp Steak. If you ain’t had it, get it! After perusing the menu he decided on a particular steak choice himself, and even though he normally wouldn’t order a low calorie meal, figured only the ingredients in the meal and the way they cooked it would be different, and saw the 550 calories as just a perk. WRONG! I laughed my ass off… If you could’ve seen his reaction when they brought me this nice-sized, juicy steak, covered in parmesan sauce and shrimp, with a generous portion of mixed veggies and garlic mashed potatoes, and then laid out the platter in front of him with a pathetic looking steak that would fit in the palm of his hand and about a half a baked potato cut into like five, small chunks, well…it was priceless. He just looked down at it puzzled, then glanced at my food with a bit of lust, then around at the other tables. He didn’t say anything at first until I did, and only after I made a comment the equivalent to “What the hell?” Then he told me he thought it was a gag I was purposely pulling on him, or was waiting for a hidden cameraman to come into view. I had to remind him that I would never joke about food. I’m 120 lbs, love food, and can shovel it in like a 250 lb man when I’m hungry. No…I never joke about food.

     I have to admit, that was probably the best dinner we’ve ever had together, and definitely the most entertaining. He had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee. Just his constant little comments how he’s hitting McDonald’s after we leave there, and how he would’ve been more satisfied by nibbling on crackers, etc.. while cutting slivers off this pitiful little steak and eating it. I finally called the waitress over and told her to take a look at him. My husband is 6 foot, 200 lbs, and has the beginning of what I know will eventually be a gut to rival Santa’s because of my cooking, and asked her, “Does that look like it’s going to fill him up?” She admitted that she winced especially when she saw the tiny portion of potatoes, then offered to give him a coupon for half off the nacho’s platter. We took it, and the cook even brought it to the table. At some point not long after I beckoned her to our table and said with a smile, “See how happy he is now? He just needed fed.” He glanced my way with a satisfied grin and a bit of cheese tucked in the corner of his mouth like a child that just had a Hershey’s candy bar. All was well again with the world.

     The perfect gift I received from my husband this year had nothing to do with shiny baubles or trinkets. It had nothing to do with flowers or huge boxes of candy. It had nothing to do with red pumps or romance. It was something that meant more to me than any of those and one I can keep forever: A great memory. For a brief time last night I found myself hanging on his every word, noticing how damn, good-looking he is, and remembering what it was about him I was drawn to. For a brief time I found myself falling in love all over again. Today we may be back to the same ol’..same ol’, but yesterday was a pumpkin that turned into a carriage, filled with humor, laughter, and love. Didn’t that sound like fun? It was!

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