Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Stigma of the Valentine's Day "First Date"

Last night, over sangria, Cornona and marginally good Mexican food, I realized that my husband and I had spent the last17 Valentine's Days together. No matter how you look at it, it's a pretty staggering that in dog years would make us each 119 years old.

The couple sharing the table with us, I surmised must have been on a first date. She was wearing a red sweater, and mostly likely her "good" jewelry. He was in his late forties and seemed neither attractive nor terribly interesting. They may or may not have been recently divorced or on a blind date, but one thing was certain....they both seemed lonely.

She talked at length, loudly over the noise of the cover band "The Ecclectic Groove" (couldn't have made that name up if I tried.) And, I overheard her speak of the travails of a work colleague, a cousin's cancer battle, and a laundry list of ancetodes starring various siblings, relatives and friends. He said little to nothing, sucking down his beer, barely listening and scanning the bar. He was just passing time, hoping tonight he'd get lucky.

She was just trying to fill the dead air space. Neither, I am sure, wanted to be home alone. "I think they are on a first date," I whispered to my husband as he handed me another Corona. He looked over at the couple and laughed at me, "You think everyone in here is on a first date." Well, maybe they all are, I thought.

"Okay, then what about those two," he said, pointing to a decidedly older couple that had swept in quickly, taking a large, round table all to themselves. They looked a bit out of place, as if they popped in on a lark, not wanting to end the evening yet. She wore an ankle length, white fur with an overly ornate gold necklace. With the looming pile of silver hair and bright rouge-y makeup, she was almost cartoonish.

"First date," I smirked and kissed his forehead. He immediately turned his attention back to the All-Star Slam Dunk contest on the TV and squeezed my hand. We, on the other hand were not on a first date. And never, for that matter, had the pressure of a Valentine's Day first date....because in my husband's infinite wisdom as a college junior, he declared there was too much "stigma" attached to a Valentine's first date, too much pressure, too much to live up to. So our first date, without much fanfare was 17 years ago at a T.G.I.Friday's on February 13th.

To this day, my flowers and cards from him, come on Feb. 13th. Each year it makes me smile, because I stop and think about "the stigma" of what could have been and the reality of what it all has become.

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