In honor of romance I offer these three vignettes.
Our first woman was very beautiful. She had an hourglass figure and long black hair. Her complexion was called “peaches and cream” and she once represented her state in the Miss America pageant. Everyone agreed she was stunning. She came from a successful family with plenty of material assets besides.
One February a fellow she had been seeing for several months asked her whether she would like to go from New York to Ireland for a romantic getaway. He would pay for everything including first-class airfare, luxury hotels, and incidentals. Not being a complete fool, he mentioned that given the suddenness of these plans she might need to pay for dinner one night.
She said she would get back to him. Two days later she informed our hero that after discussing the matter with her circle of friends they had decided he was an utter cad and should never have had the temerity to suggest she pay for so much as a tip, let alone a dinner. If he really loved her he would not have suggested the burden. He agreed entirely and insisted they cancel their trip immediately.
A second woman was very successful in her highly educated postgraduate career. Everyone who worked with her acknowledged she was determined and resourceful. The perpetual scowl on her face confirmed this.
She too had a man in her life and he was more or less devoted to her. However, he never seemed to measure up to her standards. To her, his physique was not quite right. In her eyes he was getting too old. From her perspective his ideas about people were peculiar, naïve, and even foolish.
Apparently the only way to rectify these failings was to repeat them constantly while hoping they would vanish. This strategy ultimately proved successful because they eventually disappeared, though he left along with them.
A third girl labored in a working-class diner. One day a man came through town who was indistinguishable from the other customers except perhaps he was more clean-shaven. Over the course of many weeks and several late-night cups of coffee they became acquainted and a friendship began.
Eventually he inquired about her impressions of him. When asked about appearance she replied, “Oh no, you are absolutely fit.” When speaking of age she laughed, “Oh ridiculous, you are very young.” When discussing his life decisions she chided, “Oh I disagree, you are quite intelligent.”
For Christmas that year she unexpectedly gave him a used money clip from Tiffany & Co. which she admitted was purchased at a pawn shop. Even so, it was obvious to him that given her meager state it was quite a sacrifice. He later had it engraved and it now resides in a bank vault along with his first edition of Shelley’s Posthumous Poems and a rare Patek Philippe pocket watch.
Her gesture led to something more than a friendship and the girl was later shocked to learn the degree to which this fellow differed in his circumstance from his every outward impression. In the years to come she received many little (and large) blue boxes from him.
The first woman has gained a moderate 30 pounds and lives in a moderately sized house in the suburbs of a moderately sized city. It is uncertain whether her husband will take her out to dinner this evening, though most assuredly he will not take her over to Europe.
The second woman lives in a small apartment in a large downtown. She resides there with her only child by a man with whom she does not live and seldom sees, the infant a product of neither her first nor second marriages, both of which resulted in divorce.
The third girl no longer works in a diner. This year she received a full-length mink coat.
For those alone on the holiday, there is one simple moral to these stories.
For everyone else, all my best on a very happy St. Valentine’s Day.
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