Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Gone Awry

I think the year was 1986, we lived just north of Seattle in a waterfront town of Edmonds. I was at a large medical center in Seattle, my wife was just starting a position at UW.

Valentine's Day was an occasion I'd never thought of as a Serious Thing, The previous year I'd shrugged it off, with less-than-optimum results. So fine, this year I'd pay attention. Actually my department secretary had reminded me, but that's not important. I gave it some thought, and decided that Something Funny was in order.

On grand rounds I noticed a pallet of boxes, large boxes, bound for the basement where the service departments were located. They were 50 pound boxes of laundry detergent. The proverbial light bulb went off in my misdirected mind. After rounds I asked my secretary if she could find out where they came from, and if I could order one. I sort of remember her shaking her head and saying something about it being a bad idea. "Nah" I said, dismissing her worry "It'll be funny."

It came, I lugged it home and wrapped it with appropriate gift wrapping paper, put a big bow on it, and placed it on the dining room table, next to a dozen roses in a vase. 

Now, in my defense, I also had in reserve a real present, a necklace. But I figured it would just be an afterthought, one she'd open while still laughing about the huge wrapped box. 

I remember she got home, the oldest daughter, then 11, came out. The wife looked at the package with a big, wondering smile. "Wow! What is that??" She unwrapped it. I remember the disbelieving stares from her and the daughter. You know the kind, the one that says "what on god's earth were you thinking??"

The necklace was quickly presented, but didn't really mollify the situation. 

Recently the youngest daughter gave me one of those refrigerator magnets that says "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time". 


  1. Well, Happy Valentine's Day, anyway, Mike.

    (Couldn't have been a total disaster, because she kept you around!)

    Hey! The prove-you-aren't-a-bot words are Sweet Valentine - not kidding!

    1. Same to you, Martha. Hope somebody took you out to dinner or at least a box of chocolates.

  2. Too funny.
    Long ago at work one of the salesmen confided he bought his wife a Kitchen Aide mixer for her birthday present. "When's her birthday," I asked. "Tomorrow." "That gives you tonight to get a string of pearls to put in the mixing bowl.
    Two days later: "Thanks. You saved my marriage."

    1. A few months later as an anniversary present we went up to Vancouver Island and stayed at a resort. It seemed to make up for my attempt at humor.

  3. I'm assuming that was when you started doing your own laundry.

  4. So, that wife used to give me shit for forgetting Valentine's day, like it was some sort of family holiday. Like, she got irritated because I was supposed to have gotten a card for Emily when she was a toddler. And I've ALWAYS felt guilt about not wishing other people a happy valentine's day, because surely I was supposed to give Valentines to my kids, siblings, neighbors? I don't know.

    I didn't know until reading this now that that sentiment only came from her, not you as well. It makes sense now, that you didn't think Valentine's Day was a big deal. Drew and I don't even celebrate it at all. And I dread - absolutely DREAD - when Fiona's in school and we have to buy and write names on those godawful school valentines. I hated that EVERY FUCKING YEAR with Cora. And now these Eastside parents all totally up the ante, and those valentines come with thematic treat bags, and crafts and shit. From and for every other kid in your kid's 3rd grade class of 27 kids.

    I am the Valentine's grinch. And the New Year's grinch.

  5. On Valentine's Day, I sent him the following link, with the comment, "Say the word, and I'll get to disemboweling. There. My V-day duties are complete."