Iâ€™d been dating Marty for three months when Valentineâ€™s Day rolled around.
He wasnâ€™t the most demonstrative guy, but he knew what he was doing in the sack and that counts for a lot. He laughed at my jokes when he was around to hear them, didnâ€™t have a string of exes or kids to compete for his time. He looked great in a suit, not so great in jeans. His buddies meant the world to him. If I was a piece of real estate I figured I was right up there with the State of Maine â€“ small but solidly on the radar. I could live with all of this as long as Marty hit the high notes. So, the day of hearts and flowers was kind of a milestone and I prepared appropriately.
The steaks were ready, the table set. I was bathed and perfumed. The music selection was lined up. I would start with sweet and move to seductive. I set aside the fake wax log in favor of real wood for the fireplace. Seven oâ€™clock passed by forty-five minutes when there was an insistent knock on the door.
Better late than never, I figured. I also gave him points for being eager.
I adjusted my cleavage, licked my lips and loved the way the fire threw off just enough golden light to make me look warm and inviting. I opened that door real slow, narrowed my eyes, let a smile play upon my ultra-glossed lips. All wasted. I was looking at the old lady from across the street.
â€œYour house is on fire, dear.â€
She stepped back, raised a hand, rolled her eyes. I thought she looked quite nice in the firelight, too. This fire, though, was shooting straight out of the chimney.
â€œDamn.â€ I muttered.
â€œI should say,â€ she answered. â€œI called nine-one-one.â€
â€œGreat.â€ Just what I needed. Company on Valentineâ€™s Day.
On the bright side, Marty would hear the sirens, rush to my side, gather me up, turn my head into his shoulder, whisper he was grateful that I was alright. We would fall in love, marry, have children. Our childrenâ€™s children would re-tell this tale of love at our funerals.
While I waited for Martyâ€™s entrance, I pushed the neighbor onto the lawn and ran for the hose. This was no easy feat. My WonderBra was too tight, my dress too long, my heels too high. I made for it with a sort of whump of a gallop that left me stuck in the thick grass every third step. Breathless when I finally got to it, I grabbed the darn thing and headed back to the middle of the lawn. I hollered at the little old lady as I passed.
She hightailed it over to the faucet, her eyes never leaving the flames that now shot five feet in the air. A breeze kicked up. Cinders flew. Every damn house on the street had shake roofs including mine. The sirens were louder but they werenâ€™t close enough.
â€œTurn it on!â€ I screamed, holding tight to the nozzle.
â€œTurning it on,â€ the old lady screamed back.
I planted myself and waited for the rush of water. My hair was coming loose from its chignon. My arms were tight to my sides. I was Woman – hear me roar. Marty would be so impressed when he arrived.
â€œYouâ€™re not straight dear!â€ The old lady again, pulling me out of my daydream.
She unkinked the hose before I was ready. The water shot out, soaking my dress before I got it on the roof. Then came the red lights. Noise. Men in yellow suits and helmets coming to save me.
It went pretty quick after that. Hunky guys put out the flames while the old lady and I watched. Marty never showed but a damn good looking fireman grinned down at me from his perch on the roof. I smiled back. The evening wasnâ€™t a total loss.
Long story short. The guy wasnâ€™t smiling, he was grimacing. Heâ€™d slipped on the roof I watered down. His ankle was broken. They took him away on a gurney. My dinner burned. Marty never showed. The old lady and I finished off a bottle of wine, toasting our brave hearts. By the time we were done, I didnâ€™t care that mine was just a little bit broken, too.
VERY pregnant. My second baby was due on Valentineâ€™s day and my three year old son was making me crazy and my husband didnâ€™t seem to understand what the big deal was.
I was tired, cranky, roughly the size of Mt. Rushmore and not feeling the love.
Naturally, the TV was playing all these fabulous commercials with skinny women getting candy and diamonds from amazingly gorgeous men and there I sat. Waiting on a baby who had no intention of showing up and trying not to shriek as my sonâ€™s bottle of glue spilled on the floor. Of course, a heartbeat later the dog â€˜cleanedâ€™ it for me, then threw it right back up again.
When my husband called from work and asked, â€œWhatâ€™s for dinner?â€ I lost it.
Crying, shouting, giving into all of the weird hormone surges within, I had a mini-breakdown. Even my son and the dog paused in their destruction derby to watch the festivities. By the time I hung up, I was spent. All I wanted to do was find a hole and crawl in for awhile. This was not how I pictured Valentineâ€™s Day. There should be romance. Dancing. Dining.
I put my son down for a nap, tossed the dog outside and whimpered alone on the couch. My little pity party was just getting into full swing when my husband showed up, an hour early.
He had take out bags from my favorite restaurant, a big box of Sees Bordeaux, (clearly having not noticed my elephantine size), and a wary smile on his face. He walked into the living room like a man about to tiptoe across a minefield and who could blame him?
And while I sat and relaxed with a cup of tea he made for me, my husband bathed our son, fed the dog, cleaned the living room and then set up dinner. At my place at the table, there was a gaudy Valentineâ€™s card, lovingly decorated by my son with clumpy blobs of glued on glitterâ€”explaining the glue incident from earlierâ€”and another, smaller card from the yet to be born baby, apologizing for being late.
My husband served the take-out dinner, cleaned up afterward and tucked our son into bed, insisting that I do nothing more than relax and watch TV. So I did. And when those commercials with perfect people doing imitations of romance came on, I paid no attention at all.
Real romance comes when you need it most. And even the worst Valentineâ€™s day can turn out to be the best.
And when our daughter finally arrived four days later, she was worth the wait.