14 - 02
For 361 days of the year I am fairly low maintenance. (Shush now Tony, if you’ve got something to say, get your own column.) It’s just the remaining 4 days that I am slightly more difficult to please. I’m not talking expensive gifts, designer handbags or jewellery that comes in cute little bags – I’m talking thought. Down to earth, honest to goodness, old-fashioned, soul searching contemplation.
I don’t know why I care. After all Valentine’s Day is not a Jewish holiday. However, Israel gets a piece of the action too now with its own version called Tu B’Av. This falls in the summer and is considered a very desirable day for Jewish weddings. (Especially for the bride and groom as the tradition is that they do not fast if their wedding falls on this day.)
Last year Israel had its Gay Pride march around this time, a special open air Kabbalat Shabbat service at the port in Tel Aviv and dance workshops in vineyards. Humph – what do we do? Trudge around shopping centres perusing red tat and queue up in over-priced restaurants.
Regrettably, I was drawn in from an early age. Back in the day, when cupcakes were called buns and fruit juice was a course in a hotel breakfast, it was more about the card and the surprise of who it was from. Most of my teenage years were spent suffering from un-requited love and February 14th was both embarrassing, (I’d sent him a card) and disappointing (he’d sent one to my friend.) Never mind, deep down I always knew I was going to marry Sting.
I’m not sure what the teenagers do for Valentine’s Day nowadays and I daren’t ask my two charmers. I am aware that adolescents “chirpse” rather than “flirt” now and the “off” between the “get” and the “with” has disappeared. Whole relationships are conducted virtually. As a parent, I’m delighted – it’s the new safe sex.
Thirty years on and I am with a man who always remembers Valentine’s Day. When we were ‘courting,’ eating out was not a big deal. In fact, when we decided to get married and needed to save up, we took the drastic step of only dining out in restaurants twice a week. Nineteen years of marriage and two kids later, it is a rare pleasure. This year we have it sussed and are going out on February 13th to avoid the crowds and the frazzled service. I’m not sure of our chosen Kosher establishment yet, but my eye was taken recently by an advert in this very newspaper advertising “large portions.” They know their clientele.
So what can my poor long suffering, can’t do right for doing wrong, blue eyed, handsome man do to get into my good books on Valentine’s Day? Well, he could take the bin out for a start, but let’s not go there. Flowers? No, I just don’t appreciate them. Chocolates? Diet, remember. Jewellery? We have a joint account and Bar Mitzvah this year, so don’t even think about it. Plus, I don’t think Timex do a Valentine’s Day range.
I’m being a bit mean, he tries, he really does. (I’m backtracking a tad now, feel a bit bad about the bin comment and don’t want to put the mockers on my daily 6.40 a.m coffee.) One year I got a handmade card with pressed flowers from our garden. That was truly lovely.
One mustn’t underrate the small gestures in a marriage. An impromptu act of domesticity and caffeine supply speak volumes about how a man fears, I mean respects, his wife. If he asks how your day was without you telling him (or berating him for not asking you), he’s a diamond. Other favourites of mine are taking the kids to school on my day off and evening chauffeuring. Like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, he’s an excellent driver. All in all, I can’t really complain. Well, I can. I do.
In the early years I got poems, all of which I have kept. This is an extract from one I found written in the early 1990s:
“But I’m getting the hang of this married bit,
You’re never wrong, I’m always a s***”
Far more eloquent than De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da…Opinion: Sorry Tony, but deep down I always knew I'd marry Tony by Angie Jacobs