This will be the 11th Valentine’s Day for my wife and I. Once, long ago, when we were two broke kids living in dorm rooms we tried the whole date night thing. Our first Valentine’s Day together we ordered take-out from Pita Pit, at the time it was the fanciest place we could afford and not having a car, it had to come to us. I think we rented a movie from a Hollywood Video (like a poor-man’s version of Blockbuster -yes, that sentence now exists), the movie is lost to time now. We passed out in the living room space of my dorm.
The next Valentine’s Day was just as forgettable. Our third attempt was in 2006. I was going through chemo, she was going through her teacher program stuff and we were both a bit stressed and needed a calm night. We did not get that.
We went to a Johny Carino’s (2006 was a different world) for dinner. I don’t remember the food. I remember sitting in our car, our beloved 1984 Toyota Cressida, and waiting an hour for the little “your table is ready” buzzer to buzz. It was a classy evening. We went inside and were broadsided by the steady droning sound of conversation.
I do not know if this is a common occurrence, but when I went through chemo everything was louder and everything was smellier. I felt like a bee in rain walking into the restaurant; disoriented, confused and a little put off by the overuse of garlic. My wife was, sadly, quite accustomed to this little issue and tried her best to help me out. To say my wife is an incredible human being is an understatement. I couldn’t eat, she suffered through the food and we wound up bagging up the meal to take it home.
There are some memories that will always remain vivid. The sort of memory that when you blink you see the scene in the back of your eyelids, the smell of the room fills your nose and the sounds ring through your ears. I will never forget the moment the made too fast, imitation Italian food was boxed up and slid into the over sized take-out bag. The plume of old garlic, burned sauce and what was meant to be basil I think, that rose from the bag was too much for me. My wife wound up driving us back to her place.
When we got there, her roommate was having a party, I was pretty sure I was going to die and she was exhausted. I said goodnight, drove back to my dorm and passed out. Done by 8:00. It was lame then, but today that sounds pretty dang nice. That was the last time we tried to do the Valentine’s Day thing.
We tried to figure out why we attempted to take part in the “holiday” some years ago. All we could come up with was, “because that’s what you do.” If ever there was a poor reason to do anything it is that. Keeping traditions for the sake of traditions expends energy we can’t afford. We’re not about to let Hallmark tell us how to spend our weekend. Plus, I think I kinda ruined the whole thing by nearly yakkin’ in a restaurant a decade ago. Sorry, wife.
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.