I have just spoken to my sister who lives abroad. She and her husband have only been married a year, and they have no children. She has sent her husband 'O' out so that she can prepare the house for Valentine's night. The house is filled with balloons, she's cooking a special meal, been for a wax, put marshmallows to toast next to the barbeque (it's hot where they live, and I don't mean just the weather), she's baked heart shaped shortbread, iced in pink with silver balls for decoration, crikey she's even bought him an egg that when watered spells out a love message. With her cooking skills (she heats soup and that is that) I'd like to say that all the fuss is to detract from the food but it's not. This is what young, free couples do for valentines day. It's de riguer, expected, love is lavished at every oppourtunity. I'm so pleased for them. Delighted in fact. Delighted.
Husband and I have had a lovely valentine's. We both forgot to write our cards last night so there was a slightly awkward stand off this morning as we both tried to second guess whether the other was bluffing to save feelings, then we agreed to give them this evening. Husband then sent Isla into the kitchen with some supermarket, yellow 'roses' that he'd bought home last night then forgotten and left to die in the car. It was a special moment.
I myself had forgotten to take Husband's request for a special dinner. I made a rare call to his work, I don't call more than once a day for fear of damaging his chances of promotion due to his clingy can't-make-a-decision-on-her-own wife (how little they know). He requested spaghetti bolognese. Fair enough it's a treat to have carbs in the evening but other than that even Isla could have come up with something more adventurous. So spaghetti bolognese it was. Just as I was saying goodbye there was a pause, here it is I thought, happy valentine's day sweetheart. Husband shuffled around as I held the handset close to my ear, not wanting to miss the moment. Hey, he said, want to listen to your valentine's day card? It played I got you babe. Into my ear. I couldn't wait to see the flashing lights that he promised came with it as soon as you opened the flap. Couldn't wait.
Valentines day used to be filled, in teenage years, with that special sort of angst of the will I/won't I get one variety. Mornings at school would be filled with the refrain of did you get one? One? Oh five I used to reply breezily even though the post reached my house after I'd set off for school. This lie was only ever regretted when I did actually receive one, a good one that is, not one from your mother (or even worse your dad), but nobody ever, ever thought to enquire the day after, hence the lie. Later in your twenties it was either one from your current 'partner' (oh how grown up we thought we were) or none at all. Grown-up men don't do valentines, there's nobody around to remind them of the date.
So that brings me back to my sister. She has all the ingredients; a long term partner/husband, recent wedding, time, money that doesn't have to be spent on Barbies and above all, inclination. It's very hard to get all romantic on a Thursday night, whatever the card companies tell you. Jack's been playing up all day and threw up on my new boots, a wax nowadays is simply what Husband does to the car (lovingly of course) and champagne is the colour of the new curtains in the sitting room. There's not much inclination to make Thursday special, not when Friday is looming. If either of us suggested an early night we'd be delighted, an extra hour of sleep. Explain in any way a 'special night' to a toddler and you might as well say 'please play up as much as possible and shout if we ignore you'. It never fails.
So here we are, valentine's night. Spurs are playing, Husband is watching, and I am blogging. But I have to say at this point that where today is concerned I subscribe to one of my mother's more lucid pieces of advice: horrible, cheating men (and women) can fill the house with flowers, cook a special dinner, wine and dine you, speak the volumes of love all night. But it's the rest of the year that counts. Anyone can make tonight special, it's how you behave every day, every night that counts. And if that's how we're judging it, I'll take a million yellow supermarket roses and I got you babe can go on our ipod, whatever, because, as much as I can't stop thinking of my sister and her evening (within limits), ours is just as good, just different.
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