It was a beautiful sunny day, February 14, in the mid 90s…
And there was this girl I was sweet on…
I was 20 years old.
By my own reckoning, that made it my first Valentines day as a man.
A day that would provide me with a golden opportunity to banish my boyish charms for good…
I decided that I would mark the occasion with an act of bravery...
I took a deep breath…
Picked up the phone…
And made the call…
My heart skipped.
After some light chit-chat, I agreed to pick her up at 8pm.
My belly flipped.
It was like magic.
My adolescent ambling had been replaced with the bold, confident manoeuvres of a man.
I put down the phone and gave myself a 'high five'.
I then quickly reprimanded myself... And resolved to do something more manly... like a 'fist pump'... next time something good happened…
I showered, shaved and splashed on some man scent.
I took a split second to admire the reflection of the young man looking back at me in the mirror.
Moments later… The gut punch.
I opened my wallet, to discover a solitary $20 dollar bill.
It was hardly the kind of financial firepower necessary to make a good impression on a girl, particularly on Valentines Day.
I was aghast. How could I have only saved a single dollar for every year of my existence?
I was in real trouble. I wondered if any of my mates could help bridge this looming chasm with a loan?
Fortunately I had a buddy who lived en route… he was clearly my best shot at salvation…
I borrowed my sisters car and stopped by his house. I was hoping that our shared brotherhood would garner me a sympathetic ear.
I told him my tortured tale of great love and financial woe.
To his credit, he heard me out.
Instead of cash, he offered me a creative solution to my post teenage predicament…
He said “Today is your lucky day. It just so happens that I have the perfect Valentines gift for your lady friend…”
My spirits lifted.
He explained that he was in possession of a mint condition teddy bear that he had received as a present from an ex girlfriend… And that it could be all mine for the bargain price of $20 bucks!
It was a creative offer. No doubt about it. However I did have my reservations.
Firstly, it wasn’t the offer I had been looking for.
Secondly, the transaction would totally clean me out of cash.
And thirdly, I had never spent that kind of money on a stuffed toy…
“$20 bucks is a steal for a bear in such pristine condition…” he assured me.
Without further negotiation he slipped my wallet from my back pocket and took my lonely note.
He dashed upstairs, gathered his unwanted bear and then placed it in my arms.
The deal was sealed - leaving me penniless.
It dawned on me that I was now worse off than when I began.
I stood looking at the bear before me.
It did have a kind of sweetness, but it felt incomplete… undressed somehow…
The bear needed wrapping. And to be accompanied by a card.
I knew it was a long shot... I asked my friend if I could at least borrow a few bucks to fancy the bear up a little.
He was swift to deny my request. And reasoned “I am not in the business of underwriting the endeavours of hopeless romantics”.
It was a tough lesson on the brutality of business…
Noticing my distress, he offered me some free advice...
“Why don’t you make her a card instead? You know chicks love that sorta thing…”
Time was moving against me.
And I had nothing left to lose.
He gave me some old cardboard, newspapers, string, scissors, tape and pens.
And I got down to work…
I fashioned a box for the bear to rest in. And then made a card to go along with it.
We then scoured the local neighbourhood for rose petals to cover the teddy with.
Adding a much needed touch of romance…
It was 9pm before I arrived at her apartment.
When she opened the door I could see that she was upset.
I sheepishly sat down on the sofa.
Her lips were moving in slow motion as a downpour of words rained upon me.
She was right.
I was late.
And yes I should have called.
When her storm had finished, she left the living room.
Slamming the door behind her.
I had no idea what to do.
Clearly I was still more lamb than ram.
So I reached into my bag... and pulled out my humble Valentines day gift.
I placed it on the coffee table and then walked over to the front door...
Quietly closing it behind me.
It was a tough lesson on the brutality of love…
Photo credit: Marina Shatskih on Unsplash