O Lord, on our first date 50 years ago, he was so nervous, he ran two stop signs. I promptly hit the floor. Thank You for stepping in and making sure that date improved! Still, OMG, who would have thought then we’d be valentines for a lifetime?
When Midwestern citizens select their favorite month, February is among the first voted off the calendar. Even 2020’s relatively civilized temperatures (so far) don’t suffice to keep February in the running.
We still wear long undies. Yet swimsuits go on sale. Ack!
February Visa bills bristle with charges we’d repressed.
We’ve already lost the right gloves of new pairs our in-laws gave us for Christmas.
Cars define dirty. Even if some thug attempted to steal mine before my very eyes, I wouldn’t realize it. If I did, I’d offer him the keys.
But I’m still feeling fine in February for 15 reasons:
- God has not run away to Florida. He knew we needed Him here big-time.
- I love baggy clothes. Fitted-waistline spring and summer outfits constrict my creativity. Not to mention, my breathing.
- On Groundhog Day, a marginalized species is celebrated with newspaper headlines. Isn’t it nice that groundhog groupies crowd around Punxsutawney Phil as if he were Justin Bieber? Insane, but nice.
- I don’t have to do spring-cleaning yet. Shoot, if we squeeze a little more snow out of winter, I don’t have to take down my Christmas wreath yet.
- Let’s hear it for half-price chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day!
- If that’s not enough to make you smile, February is also Great American Pie Month.
- Because my toes are buried deep inside fuzzy socks, I don’t have to polish my toenails.
- Nor must I face my March birthday yet. An added bonus: because leap year comes in 2020, I receive an extra day of reprieve.
- My youngest grandchild was born on the 10th — a reason to throw confetti all month long!
- February’s sloppy weather creates an excellent working environment for a writer. With a recluse sun rarely showing its face, my laptop and I snuggle in my chair with zero desire to play hooky outside.
- A steaming mug of coffee tastes 10 times better on a February morning than in May.
- Everybody’s windows are dirty. Everybody’s yard looks lousy. Regardless of color, houses look gray. February in the Midwest is a great equalizer when it comes to property upkeep. Unless you haven’t taken down your Christmas wreath.
- Girl Scout Cookies arrive in February.
- Hot flashes come in handy.
- Finally, it’s February, not November. Only a few weeks until legal spring.
The birds, chirping a little louder, feel the change. So do brave, if stupid, daffodils poking up green fingertips in my sheltered flower bed. With these tiny pre-signs of spring — along with a few hundred Girl Scout Cookies — how can I keep from feeling fine in February?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite thing about this month?
Years ago, when the tall boy in my high school biology class called, I didn’t understand him at all.
Flattered, I small-talked for five minutes before realizing he hadn’t said a word. I left strategic moments for comments.
I babbled about our class’s fruit-fly genetic experiments. My subjects’ Great Escape. The school cafeteria’s subsequent fumigation —
Maybe he wasn’t the scientific type, after all.
Maybe he’d decided I wasn’t his type.
However, he soon called again.
This time, my monologue focused on literature. My English teacher didn’t understand my paper’s crucial insights touting fried chicken’s symbolism throughout Southern literature.
I continued my learned discourse —
Did this sadist call girls just to hang up on them?
Nevertheless, I had seen a glimmer of this shy guy’s meaning: I like you. Do you like me?
He refused it.
This time, he was the one attempting to break lo-o-ong silences. And translate touch-me-and-you-die assurances that I was fine. Fine.
Hubby seemed aghast that he’d married an alien whose language he’d never understand.
Nevertheless, we’d vowed to love each other.
Against impossible odds, we determined to learn each other’s language.
Hubby now understood that I, like all women, said “fine” only when I meant the opposite. We then grappled with another mysterious word: we. Only two letters, it appeared cozy — until used thusly:
He: Sure, we can feed 237 runners.
She: Yes, we will dig the new church basement.
Eventually, Hubby and I understood that if we valued our lives, we would use accurate pronouns.
Throughout the year, unequal estimates of garage wall/car distances and checkbook balances also challenged our powers of translation. But after three decades of marriage, we finally mastered each other’s languages … until our empty-nest purchase: a tandem bicycle.
Hubby’s “Ma-a-an!” didn’t soften the effects of potholes on my, er, anatomy.
My “Aaaaahhh!” meant little to him, riding in front. Fortunately, the pursuing Dobermans ate only one of my ankles.
The tandem initiated a repeat of Marriage Translation 101.
Hey, everyone needs an occasional refresher course.
If Hubby’s pondering deep theological, medical, or I.U. basketball issues, a visual reminder, such as a cartwheel, must accompany my “Dinner’s ready.”
I assume he’ll automatically finish my half-sentences, e.g., “Last month’s letter from the IRS …”
After 43 years of marriage, he should read my mind, right?
Only a lifetime.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite mistranslation story?
Vestiges of first-grade shyness still cling to me when Valentine’s Day nears.
As my class colored purple-lined mimeographed hearts, our teacher explained we’d soon celebrate a love holiday.
“Ooooooh.” The boys made kissing noises.
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween — none of these turned my face red as my Crayola. I’d even heard yucky rumors people kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But my parents always sent me to bed early, so I didn’t have to witness it.
Now in school, I celebrated mushy Valentine’s Day. Despite reservations, I enjoyed decorating a white doughnut bag with pink hearts — though I had no idea why. Then our teacher explained we, like mail carriers, would deliver valentine cards to our classmates’ bags to make them feel special.
Though I didn’t consider Scary Larry Williams and Donny the Dirt Adams special, I could live with that. On Columbus Day, we only sang songs about a dead sailor who got lost. On Valentine’s Day, I ate the red-hot cinnamon hearts off a pink-frosted cupcake, then washed it down with cherry Kool-Aid.
I labored over my class list, reserving ballerina valentines for my girlfriends. For boys, a lower species, I selected animals. Ugly ones.
I suffered my first case of writer’s cramp printing names on the cards. This love stuff was hard work!
But I received pink ballerinas and multiple Snow Whites in return. I even enjoyed those sent by subhuman boys.
I applied phonics to the faint print on candy hearts, only to discover such steamy sentiments as “my baby,” “be mine,” and the dreaded “kiss me.” More disconcerting: we each received fat red wax lips. The first-grade class looked as if we’d made a field trip to a plastic surgeon’s. More kissing noises.
But Mrs. Cade didn’t stand the boys in the corner. Instead, she abdicated her moral responsibility as a teacher and donned lips herself!
Later, I asked my mother to solve the mysteries surrounding the heart candies. Was “my baby” supposed to be a compliment? All my baby brother did was pee, poop and puke. Mom said a young man might call his girlfriend “baby.” That explained the incomprehensible songs on the radio.
Valentine’s Day appeared the strangest holiday of the year, and the love/romance scenario remains puzzling as ever. But it’s nice to know I’ve moved past the first-grade version. Forget the candy hearts; now I’m into Belgian chocolates.
I also understand real love means even harder work than addressing valentines.
And that kissing noises aren’t so bad, after all.
How do you remember your first Valentine’s Day experience?
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Oh, my God, my nose is red as a rose. Not very poetic and definitely not pretty. But You gave this sneezy, snorty Snuffleupagus a valentine who, like You, sees past my nasty cold. OMG, I heart you both!