My first Valentine’s day with Dave was a disaster. We were in college and he wanted to take me out for dinner. So, he drove down from North Dakota and I hitched a ride to Minneapolis and we met at his parents’ house. We were going to go to the Cheesecake Factory. It was new and we were 20 and had no concept of “fancy”, so it was a big deal. I got all dressed up and Dave cleaned his car.
When we got to the restaurant, Dave dropped me off at the door and left to park the car. I didn’t see him again for an hour. What happened was, he forgot which entrance I was near and went to the wrong door. Then, while he was waiting, he got a bloody nose. It was February in Minnesota and as his mom explained later, “David has thin mucus membranes.” When I saw him again, he was upset and had bloody tissues in his nose. “I thought you were stolen!” He said giving me a hug.
I think that’s when I knew I loved him. But I was hungry, so I wouldn’t tell him for another five months. Because Dave was late, I had forfeited our table and now it would be another hour wait. So, we decided to go somewhere else.
Except, on our way to a different restaurant, we got caught in traffic. And sat in traffic for 40 minutes. I was tired. Hungry and annoyed. Dave was tired hungry and bleeding through the nose. So, I finally said, “Hey, take me to Wendy’s!” And defeated, Dave pulled off the highway and we ordered burgers from the drive-thru and took the back roads home to his parents’ house.
When we got back, I changed into sweat pants and came down to the basement to eat a hamburger and watch a crime show. Dave was waiting for me. He had laid out the burgers on nice plates and lit candles. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” He said as I stuffed my face full of fries.
Every year, for Valentine’s we’ve gotten Wendy’s and watched people murder one another on TV. It’s our own special way of saying “I Love You.”
When I was pregnant with Ellis, I forgot about Valentine’s Day. Dave came home to me, eight months great with child, sitting on the couch, eating a frozen pizza. He stood in the doorway. “Hey,” I said, “why do you have flowers? Who died or are we getting a divorce?”
“Happy Valentine’s,” he said.
I swallowed the last of the pizza. “I made you a baby. That’s all the present you get this year. There’s another frozen pizza if you want it.”
“I love you too,” he said.
I reminded him of that Valentine’s last night, as I sat on the couch drinking sparking water and tweeting about how I had cheese in my bra (again).
“That,” he said, “was maybe the best Valentine’s ever.”
“Well, if you want me to top it, I suppose tomorrow I can punch you and then eat your cupcakes.”
“Wait, there will be cupcakes?”
“I might make some. Or buy them.”
“Don’t go getting soft on me,” he said.
And that, is how we do love around here.