Sunday, February 15, 2015
A Married Valentine's Day
I have always loved Valentine’s Day. It is the one holiday that is totally frivolous and which has the pleasure of gifts to be given but without guilt. But this year Valentine’s Day almost got by me. I got my Valentine’s Day wake up call just in the nick of time.
This alert came to me in the most casual way but the result was an epiphany. I was leaving the office early one day last week, and Michele, my co-worker, who is smart and single, was leaving at the same time. Walking to the parking lot I asked her plans for the evening? “I’m going to the mall to get ready for next Saturday”, she whispered conspiratorially.
She was including me in something, but I didn’t get it right away. “For Valentine’s Day,” she said, grinning. Then I got it.
She was going to buy lingerie for her Valentine date. Michele has a very nice boyfriend; I’m sure she’ll get flowers or candy but I’ll let you guess what he’s getting.
I was flattered that my younger friend included me in her knowing laughter. She assumes I “get it”; that Valentine’s Day is not just for kids. I got her point, but my own married state brought me up short.
No, I didn’t forget Valentine’s Day. I bought Dave a gift, but I didn’t think about the need for something red and lacy.
I was a single for a long time before we met and in those years I gave many a salary to fine lingerie stores. I remember swearing that I would never be one of “those women” who wore flannel to bed. But now, later,—and in upstate New York’s winter--I see exactly how it happens.
Maybe single women put more energy into romance. We married ones complain that husbands forget birthdays or give appliances for presents, but friends, look in your lingerie drawer; are you holding up your end of the fantasy-romance bargain?
I think of Nora Ephron, who wrote in her novel, “Heartburn”, about married versus single. She said:
“One thing I have never understood is how to work it so that when you’re married things keep happening to you. When you are single things happen: You meet new men, you travel alone, you learn new tricks, you read Trollope, you try sushi, you shave your legs. Then you get married and the hair grows in.”
Well, I do read Trollope and I love sushi, but hair grows. How does that happen? Maybe by letting Valentine’s Day come and go.
I know, I know, I can hear the screaming. Do I sound like Helen Gurley Brown? I’m actually OK with that; I adored her writing and her brains. She wrote the first smart career book for women but cleverly named it, “Sex and the Single Girl” so it flew off the shelves. Yeah, I’m a feminist who doesn’t think sex is sexist.
When I add it all up and compare my single versus married days the pluses fall on the married side. This good marriage makes me a better woman, and that makes me a better employee, and writer, and friend.
John is the love of my life. So doesn’t the man who warms up my car every morning deserve something hot for Valentine’s Day? It’s married confidence and feminist energy that let’s me enjoy this choice.