Deflating Valentine’s Day

**Dear Internet — I’m going all Jack Bauer and falling off the grid for a bit. I’ll be back with a regular column next week. Until then, take care of all these electrons around here for me. Peace! We now return you to your regularly scheduled inane blathering.**

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, now might be a good time to turn to your significant other and say, “Baby, you’ve won the primary for my heart, and you’re polling very well for the general election.”

Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like professing your love on a particular day because Hallmark told you to, you can just buy heart-shaped stuff instead, which you’re going to have to do anyway. “Isn’t it enough to just give my love?” you may be thinking. No, no it is not. Take that love, go to the mall and convert it into something heart-shaped, chocolate or heart-shaped and chocolate.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Every year, my wife Kara and I agree that we’re not going to do anything special for Valentine’s Day, then she pounces on me with a heartfelt card or a bottle of cologne, at which point I say, “Oh, that’s so nice. Hey, is our milk bad? We need new milk. I’ll give you your present right after I get back.”

But this year, Kara’s not getting King Size Twizzlers for Valentine’s Day. I have no idea what she’s getting yet, but it won’t be from a store that sells prophylactics in the bathroom.

I recently resolved to be more romantic after we spent the weekend at a friend’s apartment for her birthday celebration. We’d never met most of the other people who gathered there that Saturday night. After everyone performed the mandatory shoe removal, the conversation turned to socks, prompted largely by Kara’s jack-o-lantern socks that she hadn’t intended to flaunt.

Another girl sitting on the couch held up her colorful socks for inspection, at which point her apparent boyfriend said, “Hey, those are nice!” as he grabbed her feet and commenced giving her a tickle torture, an interrogation technique that hardly ever yields credible information.

She laughed and kicked, and they collapsed in a cuddly puddle on the floor. It went on like that all weekend. They could usually be found standing in the center of the room, hugging, talking quietly and kissing. After a couple of hours with them, it hit me: these people must have met about three weeks ago.

“How long have you all been together?” I asked.

“Since around Thanksgiving,” she said. It was disconcerting to me that I already knew they hadn’t been together for long. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly; they just still had that new couple smell.

On Sunday morning, I deflated our new queen-size Aerobed to start packing it up, still marveling at how little beer the bed required to give a comfortable night’s sleep.

“Did you read the instruction manual?” Kara asked.

“The instruction manual? It’s an air bed, not a model rocket.”

“If might get a hole in it if you fold it up wrong,” she said. I continued folding it incorrectly, working faster as Kara fished the instruction manual out of the box.

It was a classic dispute between labor and management. I considered going on strike, but the only other room in the apartment contained the new couple, giggling and giving each other massages.

Of course, in the end, it was ten times easier to fold up the bed according to the manual. After almost eight years of being together, I should know by now that we get the best results when we’re working as a team, though I suspect, on our team, we both know who’s wearing the whistle.

In any event, I hope that the new guy is smart enough to at least splurge on the King Size this Valentine’s Day. And if they’re still enjoying themselves as much as we are after eight years, they’ll have plenty to keep on giggling about, even if he’d rather curl up with a good norovirus than read a than an instruction manual.

You can bite a chocolate and stick it back in the box at mikectodd@gmail.com.

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