Wednesday, February 13, 2008

As Well He Should: A Valentine's Day Cautionary Tale

There’s nothing sadder than the grocery store at eleven p.m. the night before Valentine’s Day. Grown men throng to the florist’s coolers. They push and shove each other, hoping to find an overlooked bouquet. Men clutter the greeting card area. They reach over each other to pluck up any pink or red card. And then they sprint for the checkout lane, clutching their meager purchases to their chests.

My dear husband has been one of these. One memorable Valentine’s Day he handed me a “rose” that was a dyed carnation and a card with the words “Sorry your cat died” scratched out. Underneath he wrote, “I love you.”

That didn’t cut it.

I’ve been recycled: that is, this is my second marriage. You couldn’t tell it by looking at me but I lost 350 pounds of ugly fat: I divorced him. I ran into him the other day. I had to jump a curb with the car, but I did it.

So, I survived the trauma of divorcing Mr. Wrong went on to marry David, Mr. Right. Mr. Always Right, that is. Every once in a while, I wake up in the middle of the night and look over at the back of David’s sleeping head and wonder, “What awesome power of love and lust brought me to THIS? And why didn’t I guess THIS would have male pattern balding?”

God knows neither of us are perfect. One day my dear spouse was flipping through a magazine. He came upon a photo of Demi Moore after all that surgery for her movie StripTease. (Movie? More like a box office bomb, but no matter…back to my story.)

David tapped a finger to the photo. “You know with a little effort, you could look like THAT.”

I took the magazine away. I flipped to a photo of Bruce Willis, her then-husband. I pointed to his photo. “You know never in your dreams could you look like THIS. And this marries THAT.”

We have a mixed marriage—I’m a Southerner and he’s a Yankee. He’s younger than I am by five years. But he’s also taller and greyer. So that evens out. He’s lovely, really he is, but like most husbands he’s needed a bit of training to reach his full potential.

For example, there was the time he went on a long business trip to California. Since he sells Steinway pianos, his January trade show is a music lovers’ orgy. Our phone call went like THIS—

David: “It’s 75 degrees here. Bono performed at our sales meeting. I was just walking along Rodeo Drive. Guess who I saw? Eric Clapton. He’s playing at our concert tonight. Oh, and Sheryl Crow was in the Gibson booth. How’re things there?”

Joanna: “It’s 10 below zero. We had an ice storm. The power is out. Our garage door is frozen shut. The car is dead. Our son has strep. The dog has diarrhea. Your dad called and wants to know why we never visit him. Snow is on the way.”

David: “Gotta go! Love you!”

Joanna: “As soon as the ice melts, I’m buying a gun.”

Ah, yes. I love that man of mine. And he's really become a wonderful spouse. He's trained a local florist to drop a dozen long stem roses by his store on Valentine’s Day. They set the bouquet on his desk so he can't forget them. (And he knows to COUNT the roses. The year he brought home eleven I burst into tears. "Does this mean you don't totally love me?" I asked. "You only love me eleven roses worth? Not twelve?") He’ll get me a lovely card. We’ll go out to dinner or he’ll make steaks.

Because, he loves me. He really loves me.

As well he should.


Erica Orloff said...

Very funny!

My guy works nights . . . so I have been the recipient of many, MANY a grocery-store Valentine fiasco. He's come home with half-gallons of ice cream (I'm lactose intolerant), candy bars, and whatever they have left in the florist section, topped with an Elmo balloon. :-)

However, he's gotten much better over the years and now I get really good "stuff"--Cartier rings and diamonds. Good "stuff." But every once in a while, I remember the half-gallon of ice cream and laugh.


Joe Moore said...

"Oh, and Sheryl Crow was in the Gibson booth." Now there's what I consider the perfect woman. She's beautiful AND she plays slide guitar!

Mark Combes said...

Gee, carnations are nice flowers...

I've given up even skirting around the edges. I go right for Tiffany - the blue box never fails!

Keith Raffel said...

Joanna, Thanks for starting my day with a laugh. Keith P.S. I am lucky my wife does not blog.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


When the clock is ticking, they'll buy anything! But they can be trained.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Actually we dragged our son to meet Ms. Crow when Michael was 10. She gave him a signed guitar pick. Her mother is a member of the music teachers' group here, and David supplied a Steinway grand for Sheryl to perform on. Michael is now a phenomenal guitarist, and I can't help but think meeting Sheryl was a start. She's lovely in person and very genuine.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Any flower is a nice flower, but carnations from a guy who sells Steinways is whimping out. One year, he bought presents from Tiffany's for all the staff at Steinway and did NOT think to do the same for me. He'll never make that mistake again! Oh, I know he loves me...just like you, and Keith, and Joe love your special women. But guys, why not pull out all the stops for the women in your lives? Aren't we worth it? On the flip side, think of the grief we'll give you if you don't!

Jess Lourey said...

Hahahahahaha!!! Joanna, with writing like this, you have us all chomping at the bit for your book. When is the release date again?

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Paper, Scissors, Death will have September 13, 2008 for the official date. I think I've nailed down a possible release party that will have you howling with more laughter, Jess. Remember the two-headed snake in my book? She/he died and has been freeze-dried. The guy who runs the aquarium where she'll be displayed wants to open the place to the public free and do "something" with me. So we're talking about "Tea with We" and emphasizing that girls shouldn't be afraid of critters. Should be interesting, eh? Last time they opened up for free they had 5,000 people show up. I think I'll have to hold a snake to PROVE I'm not scared of them, but I used to work in a pet shop, so that's cool.

Hey, if it will sell books, I'll do just about anything!