Valentine's Day creates too many unanswered questions for me to participate effectively.
As a single person I asked myself things like, “Do I get the person I’ve been dating for two weeks a rose, or is that too soon? If I’ve seen them naked, does this automatically entitle them to a box of chocolate covered cavities or a coupon book for free backrubs? Which rose color means what again? And if they’re allergic to flowers, are silk arrangements better than nothing? What if they’re allergic to silk?”
At the end of this exercise, I would inevitably decide I needed to find some “me time” on Valentines Day. This meant blowing the dust off the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me. I need some space,” which led to a joyful surprise reconciliation on February 15th.
When I married, I hoped to never experience that scenario again. I believed that I would have at least 365 days to look for hints on gifts, and most importantly, learn of potential flower-related health risks.
A week before Valentine's Day last year I realized marriage had not solved my problem, but merely altered it. Instead of using the length of the relationship to determine a gift, I began to ask myself, “Was I helped with the garbage enough last year? Did I get to choose one movie we rented? Now that we’ve seen each other naked, do I spend more or less money? Will it be noticed that I spent more or less? And when was the last time I was told I did a great job cleaning the litter box?”
Because I could not put the marriage on hold for a few weeks while I “got some space,” I did just the opposite. I planned a small gathering with friends at our house in hopes cooking, planning and cleaning could be viewed as sufficient replacements for a small token of affection. I invited another couple over for dinner and a movie, planned a four-course meal, and busied myself during the week with projects I’d put off. Surely I can’t be expected to do everything and get a gift, right?
At the end of a wonderful Valentine's evening we walked our guests to the door with the usual parting remarks thanks for coming, drive safely, and hope that rash clears up with the new ointment.
And there, attached to the chair and making a terrible humming noise, was our first locust. Around here they call it a cicada, but in my rush to name the bug all I could remember were the locusts from the Bible, and I knew this was not a good sign.
One dinner guest became fascinated by the bug and decided to shake the chair and monitor its reaction. A few shakes later the locust took to the air causing everyone on the porch to jump, scream, and then run in the opposite direction of its flight pattern. The opposite direction in this case was outside and into the street where my spouse and dinner guests sought refuge.
I was not so lucky.
In a matter of seconds I screamed, cursed, ran back into the house, closed the front door and began to be attacked in the head in a series of fly-bys. There was a locust in the house and we were alone together.
Even while resting sedately on the front porch, the locust had made a terrible noise. Now jarred from its hibernation, it made sounds likened only to the screams and yells my father made when startled out of a nap by a crashing plate or an unwelcome lick (you know where) by the family dog.
Having no recourse but to emasculate myself and run about the house with my hands in the air trying to find shelter, I covered my head and hid in the corner mumbling how if this were a choose-your-own-adventure moment I would have opted to put down the book and read the Bible in search of a remedy to the situation. Most likely I would have fumbled to the book of Revelations only to find the extermination procedure was on some obscure page between how to murder a lamb and doing bodily harm to those who work on the Sabbath.
I don’t know what happens to a person when they become so scared of a two-inch flying monster that fear turns to hate, then to a powerful rage that forces them to take off their boot and chase a bug from room to room yelling “You were not invited!” What I can report is that rage quickly turns to panic when said locust is trying to make the sweet-sweet love by burying itself in your ear. Someone coming to my rescue at that moment would have found me cupping my hands over my ears, running in place (although I thought I was moving forward) still yelling, “You were not invited!” Nothing more would have been required to commit me for observation at a state-funded hospital.
But nobody came for several minutes. I was left to my own devices, which consisted of a boot that I couldn’t pick up because my hands were covering my endangered ears. I started thinking like a refugee in a foreign camp plotting my escape from my captor and saying things in my head like “me cry at night when alone, so dark, no help, just pain.”
I wandered through the house in search of killing utensils. A spatula might only irritate it or flip it on its side. A pan might dent or break whatever it hit. A water bottle used to hurl temped liquids might confuse the intruder, but also make for a flying wet locust, which is MUCH worse to me than a dry one for some reason. Ultimately the boot would be the solid choice for a quick, clean kill that wouldn’t result in a wing or furry leg being splattered on my forehead causing me to pass out.
Moments later, while the locust wooed a light fixture, I saw my chance to end the screaming (mine) and fly-by lovin’ (its). As if the voices in Joan of Arc’s head were speaking directly to me, I realized my mission and set out to destroy the uninvited guest who hadn’t the decency to land on, and therefore, try my homemade heart-shaped double-chunk brownies. To come in uninvited was one thing, but to not find my dessert appealing was cause for death and dismemberment.
Just as I was about to hit (read: hurl then run away from) the locust, one of the dinner guests walked back into the house, deflected my punch, and saved the locust from death by Kenneth Cole. The bug was put through the catch-and-release program against my wishes, and I was left with the unfulfilled need to walk deep into the forest with nine other emasculated men to beat drums and blame our fathers for everything feminine about ourselves.
I’ve tried Valentine's Day as a single man, as a married man, and now I will face every Valentine's Day as a cast-aside locust’s plaything... still asking the question “Does seeing someone naked mean they get chocolates on Valentine's Day?”
Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...
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2.14.01 @ 12:38p
I think seeing a naked locust means it gets chocolates. I think.
2.14.01 @ 12:55p
I would think locusts would prefer flowers.
lee anne ramsey
2.14.01 @ 1:20p
I think seeing someone naked means they get an acknowledgement of the holiday. "Honey, I saved you from this locust. Will you be my valentine?"
2.14.01 @ 6:42p
I think seeing someone naked is a holiday all in iteself.
2.15.01 @ 9:33a
Want to know a secret? The person to whom I said "hope the rash clears up with the new ointment" is an Intrepid Media writer. Now, whether or not they had a rash at the time...who is to say? Hm?
2.15.01 @ 2:00p
can you give us a hint? And did they actually have new ointment, or was that a fiction as well?
2.15.01 @ 4:35p
OK, here's a little hint: it was JEFFREY WALKER. ;+)
2.17.01 @ 12:45p
Did I talk to you about that? I must have been loaded.
Well, thanks for your concern... things are all fine now!