Best and the Worst
writers recount their most—and least—memorable Valentine’s
Haze of Gifts
been pondering the gifts I’ve received on Valentine’s Day
for a few days now, and I have concluded that I cannot remember
a single gift I have been given (or have given myself, for
that matter). Brainstorming aloud, I mentioned my lack of
a stand-out Valentine’s Day present to my girlfriend of several
years, who responded with her pouty face. And before you start
criticizing my relationship abilities for being unable to
remember what she has so lovingly given me, I’m going to tell
you why this is all her fault.
She is excellent at choosing and buying presents and extraordinarily
bad at keeping secrets. She will buy birthday presents for
me two months before my birthday and give them to me only
a week later, and if she does manage to wait until my birthday
to give them to me, she has already told me what they are.
On top of the giving of “birthday” gifts over the span of
a few months, she will also often buy me random gifts for
no particular occasion. And thus her presents, which are all
essentially bound to no event or date, blend together in my
head and I have no idea what she has ever given me on or around
Feb. 14. Somewhere in my head is a hazy image of a basket
adorned with fuzzy hearts and full of cool stuff, but I’m
sure it wasn’t even in February.
Not that I am any better: Her presents haven’t even arrived
in the mail yet, and she already knows what they are.
Pink, Seeing Red
pink colander (2006). I may be a romantic, but I’m the most
practical romantic I’ve ever met. So last year I swooned when
my fella gave me a small pink colander full of dark chocolates
made nearby. Not only did he satisfy my sweet tooth, but this
cute, yet ordinary, kitchen object continually adds cheer
to the counter and reminds me of him. Awww.
Worst: one dozen red roses (1997). He dumped me two days before
Valentine’s Day. On that particular day, my once-high-school-sweetheart-turned-rotten-loser
left a Valentine on my car. I angrily tore it up and tore
home. Then, as if to add insult to injury, he brought two
dozen roses to the house, one each for my mother and me. (Mercifully,
she answered the door.) They were gorgeous, so we promptly
threw them out. They looked like I felt: pathetic, flushed,
and in a trash can. High school is even cruel to roses.
got the best Valentine’s Day gift in the cafeteria of my Catholic
elementary school, where the lunchlady trolls wouldn’t let
you throw out your garbage unless you finished your entire
lunch. But I wasn’t the only kid who sat next to the wall
so I could shove gross, half-eaten rice cakes under the heater
because we weren’t allowed to chuck them. Upstairs in the
classrooms nuns taught us that God created the universe in
seven days—and that when slow dancing with another person
at our school dances in that same cafeteria, we should always
leave between us enough room for the Holy Spirit. At lunchtime
on Valentine’s Day in third grade, way before I ever went
to any kind of school dance, my spikey-haired hunk of a crush
gave me one of his two-pack pink-and-white heart-shaped Hostess
cupcakes. My mom would’ve freaked if she knew about me taking
junk food from a boy. Flattered and nervous, I offered him
The worst Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever gotten was from the
Albany Police Department, in 2004. An ever-so-pleasant cop
pulled me over for “driving eratically” up Washington Avenue
when I was rushing to work. Heart-filled and warm, he kindly
gave me two points on my license and a beautiful ticket for
$150! Love you too, officer.
Terribly, Terribly Awkward
freshman year of college, my boyfriend from high school, “Eric”,
who was at college 500 miles away from me, decided to surprise
me with a visit on Valentine’s Day. He managed to call my
roommate to enlist her help in planning during the week between
when I had started to date someone else at college (“Chris”)
and when I worked up the guts to tell Eric I had (again) exercised
the “open” clause of our long-distance relationship. My roommate
was so tormented by the prospects for high drama that this
scenario presented that she let me in on the secret.
Eric stuck to his plans despite my confession, and even boldly
enlisted Chris in the planning. Valentine’s Day found Chris
morosely “distracting” me while Eric laid a trail of rose
petals from my door to a festive meal of Chinese take-out
in the dorm kitchen and I practiced pretending to be surprised.
Turns out I was such a wreck that it wasn’t that hard.
On the upside, he’d also bought me a vibrator.
best Valentine’s Day present I ever got was completely cliché.
When I was a sophomore in college, my long-distance boyfriend
(let’s call him John) and I broke up about a week before Valentine’s
Day (let’s blame it on the distance). It was sad, as breakups
generally are, and I was a bit down and out. But a couple
of days later, John called to say that he wanted to give it
another shot, and that he’d be coming to visit me for Valentine’s
Day weekend. True to his word, he drove the three hours to
my school through a treacherous snowstorm, and brought me
pounds of chocolate, a dozen roses, and a homemade video (he
was, and still is, a cinematographer). Cliché, yes, but it
was—by far—the most thoughtful V-Day gift I’ve received to
date. On the other end of the spectrum, the guy I dated after
John—who I was with for a few years—never got me anything
for Valentine’s Day, but he did give me money to buy something
for myself. Sweet, huh? In any case, I have to admit, I got
some of my favorite “gifts” that way (who else was going to
know that I wanted a piece of chunky, Mexican-made pottery?
Certainly not him.).