I’ve been on this Earth to celebrate more than 50 Valentine’s Days.
I ignored it my first few years, mainly because I couldn’t shop in diapers or my jammies — the Walmart phenomenon hadn’t caught on yet.
Then came Catholic grade school and the yearly observance of the holiday created for St. Valentine. Apparently, he was the patron saint of chocolates, flowers and cheesy prose.
We spent class time decorating our lunch bags or empty shoeboxes with drawings of hearts impaled by arrows. Maybe it was to show members of the opposite sex either that we were tough, or good hunters, but nobody had yet informed us what the opposite sex actually was.
We meandered through the rows of desks, dropping a hand-signed, mass-produced valentine into every box or bag we had magically transformed into a mailbox.
The cards usually said something like “Be mine” or “Be my Valentine,” and we had to give one to everyone, even the girl who said you had cooties on the playground or that stuck her tongue out at you in class. Get real. At that age, baseball was my one love.
Eventually girls started being less icky, but as they did, they also became more expensive. Now I couldn’t get by with buying Valentine cards in bulk, and a heart-shaped box of chocolates and/or a stuffed animal often accompanied my purchase.
I may or may not have said the phrase “I love you” to a girl during my high school years, but the sentiment was nowhere near as strong as my love of baseball, and now, heavy metal music.
Then I learned what true love was and got married — three different times.
My first marriage gave me my two children. While I’m no longer married to their mother, my kids have shown me what everlasting love is.
During my last love connection, my then-wife and I splurged on a suite that included a whirlpool tub surrounded by mirrors on three sides. This might have been hot when I was in my 20s, but by this time my 20s were about 20 years behind me, and the mirrors did nothing but remind me how pathetic I looked from three different angles.
I’m now in sort of a marital-status-purgatory. I like to consider myself single, since I had always thought that, unless you were married, you were single.
For the sake of full disclosure and to conveniently provide myself an excuse to keep from beginning conversations with women, I guess for the rest of my life I need to describe myself as divorced.
It’s not that I think the word is tantamount to wearing a scarlet “D” on all my shirts. Women are understandably wary of what could be in the baggage that often comes with divorce. Without unpacking completely, I will say I don’t drink, smoke, gamble or cheat, nor have I ever raised my hand to a woman.
Valentine’s Day is upon us. Some will celebrate it. I’m going to do my best to ignore it.
I’ve made no special purchases, nor is there anyone in the area who is special to me in that way. I read online where some people with similar circumstances observe “Single Awareness Day” (SAD) on Feb. 14. The story said some people celebrate by dining alone and binging on self-gifted chocolates.
Not me. I’m already aware I’m single.
No, instead of lamenting what I’m missing, I’m going to be happy with my first two loves. If you see a guy throwing a baseball up in the air to himself while blasting Slayer, you’ll know it’s me.
— Craig Purcell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org