Monday, February 11, 2008

First Valentine

This week the café is verily festooned with the symbols of Love. It’s a trifle garish, but I like Valentine’s Day. However, recognizing that the festivities this week might present both pleasure and peril in equal measure, I have provided a few links that might help get you over some of the rough spots:

For the geek in you, learn the basics at How to Love. If you have a someone in mind, then The Love Notes Workshop teaches you how to write to that special someone – and possibly a few other things, judging by some of the pictures. I guess I’d believe their romantic intentions a whole lot more if that woman weren’t at the top of the page clutching her bosoms and looking… eager. I concur with the advice, but I’d call the site NSFW. The Love Calculator is the most romantic use of Perl I’ve ever seen – find out the odds of success with your Snugglebunny based on your names.

However… If Love is not in the cards this week, do not despair. How to Get Over a Broken Heart and The 6 Stages of a Broken Heart offer some down to earth advice on acknowledging your feelings and moving on. And then re-read last week’s post and remember the Power of Cacao.

Of course, if you’re not in the Valentine’s Mood, then you probably don’t want to be here. If the roses and cute crap on the letterhead didn’t convince you to leave, then let me give you one last warning – this post will be sappy. It’s my blog and I’ll ooze if I want to.

DESPITE having some really bad Valentine’s Days and some really moronic boyfriends, I actually like Valentine’s Day. Anything focused on chocolate, or increasing the volume of chocolate available, or advocating the consumption of chocolate, is not a bad thing. But the reason I like Valentine’s Day is not so much because of the chocolate, but my Dad – my first Valentine.

I don’t remember when he started doing this (since he’s done it as long as I can remember, he must have started at the right time), but every year on Valentine’s Day my Dad left on the dining room table a card and a little something for my sisters and I to discover when we woke up. It wasn’t much – a box of cinnamon red hots, a little necklace or t-shirt with something cute on it – but it was just the coolest thing to me as a little girl that my Daddy did this.

It was the only time he said or wrote the words “I love you.”

When I got older and my Man du Jour was on his soapbox ranting that he “did not believe in Valentine’s Day” because it was an attempt of corporations to dictate his emotions (I wish they could have just admitted that they were either cheap or not really into me, but trying to justify themselves with intellectual twaddle just made the whole thing that much crappier), but at the same time swearing that he loved me, it was my father who actually wrote little poems and bad puns to let me know he was thinking of me.

My father is not a saint. I couldn’t have racked up that many therapy hours without some help (on the other hand, our relationship is some of my best material). Psychologists like to call my father’s reluctance to express his feelings “emotional detachment,” but I kind of prefer “emotionally unavailable.” Makes it sound like a 404 server error of the heart – and believe me, depression puts you Off Line.

As I get older and have become the ages my father was when I was young, I realize that he didn’t have any more of a clue about things then than I do now. None of us do. And as I step back in that writerly fashion and try to observe what shaped all the characters that are my family, I see that, if my father was emotionally detached, then his father was emotionally constipated. And I understand now just why my father was so emotionally detached, and how much of a gift of himself his Valentines really were.

But one Valentine’s Day, as my father handed me a card and a small box of Godiva chocolates, he turned to MP and said, “This is the last time I’m going to do this. It’s your responsibility now.” It was followed by a pause that clearly stated, “And I better not hear you screwed this up.”

MP replied, “Yes sir.”

I, however, freaked.

“You mean you’re not even gonna send me a card anyone? Ever?!?”

“No,” said my father, staring at me levelly over his glasses, “I meant the chocolates.”

As I reread this, it occurs to me how psychologists of a particular feminist slant could fault me for depending on men to fulfill my happiness. Perhaps I used to, but I can buy my own chocolates these days, thank you, and I've done it. It’s just nice to know that there’s someone out there who wants chocolates for you, too.


buddhababe71 said...

Glad to see you're finally self actualized! Still sappy though ^_^

Marianne Richardson said...

Is this...? It has to be. "Buddhababe?" What kind of a name is that?!?!