For at least 12 years, Vicki Mace of Sugar 'n Spice florist has provided a floral arrangement as door prize for the Chamber of Commerce meetings. I've been the winner of these a few times over the years, the most recent being last November when I took home a fall-themed arrangement. Vicki also has provided an arrangement for the Clay County Historical Society and I "won" a Valentine arrangement a few years back when I mentioned to someone my wife was sick. Flowers are living things, and Kay does like flowers; but as far as I can now remember the last time I actually bought and paid for flowers for Kay was probably in 1968. For most of the intervening years I was either a poor preacher, not so romantic, or just cheap.
Truth be told, my record regarding Valentine cards is not too stellar, either. I do distinctly remember going to some trouble to find just the right card in 1998. Kay was in the hospital in Indy, and I wanted to be sure she knew I hadn't forgotten what the day means to us.
Mostly our habit has been to go out to some posh fine dining restaurant to commemorate the day -- most often Steak n' Shake (but only if we have coupons). Traditionally we order at least one Orange Freeze. I'm not sure why we have such a sentimental attachment to SnS. Probably goes back to the 1950s when that was the only place to go. I learned how to park a car backing into the space so the carhops could serve us (you do remember carhops?).
Valentines Day is a special day for us. It is the anniversary of our first date, Sunday, February 14 1965, the Forest Park Planetarium in St Louis, Missouri, if memory serves at all. She always says she was overwhelmed by how we were able to talk so easily and so long. Being essentially articulate but not verbose, I rather think I mostly listened. Listening to a woman being the smartest thing a man can do when with a woman; that way she won't find out on the first date how dumb you are.
We had only met the previous Friday at Hodge's Roller Skating Rink. She wasn't the first girl I'd met there, nor the first I'd dated. That's what young people did back in those days, dated. Strangely I don't particularly recall who any of the others were. I do very definitely know that when I got home that Sunday afternoon I told my best friend, Roger, I'd met the girl I was going to marry. If the term had been invented in 1965, I would have said I'd found my sole mate.
It took me a few weeks to get enough nerve to ask her to marry me. We were married the following November. I have never looked back, nor to the right hand or the left. And, with all due apologies to Vicki, I have never found flowers or cards which could adequately express my love for her.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org