Valentine's Day strikes me as an annual audit of my love life. Has it accrued interest in the past year? Suffered a major loss? Or quietly maintained steady growth?
Either way, I've always been reluctant to try to find a greeting card that accurately reflects the crooks and crannies of my heart. I rarely experience the corny romance or sexy hilarity such cards offer. As for going to a "romantic" restaurant on February 14th, I'd just as soon hit the Old Country Buffet. Something tells me the lines will be shorter that night.
This year, I face a problem common among us boomers who have settled into domestic bliss without a partner. I'm not in love. Not even infatuated. Other than with certain late-night TV personalities whom, it's only fair to assume, have no idea I exist. (Jon Stewart, call me!) Thankfully, the holiday falls on a Tuesday night this year, an evening that usually passes by with the anonymity of a "Law & Order" rerun. So, there's no need to turn out the lights, pull the shades and pretend I'm not home.
But there's also no reason to sit around in my Hello Kitty pajamas and watch "Dirty Dancing" while weeping into my Ben & Jerry's. No, sir. This year, I'm taking myself on a fabulous date chez moi. I'll slip into a black, off-the-shoulder number and start with a dozen white roses and a champagne toast. To myself, of course. Then in the soft glow of candlelight, I'll sip a crisp, chilled pinot grigio and dine on raw oysters, lobster bisque, a citrus and feta salad, and a rack of lamb cooked to pink perfection. No, I won't be stuck in the kitchen for hours. It will be delivered to my door by a Zagat-rated restaurant. Price is no option in matters of the heart.
Then, just before dark chocolate gelato is served, I'll surprise myself with a small blue box.
"You shouldn't have!" I'll exclaim.
"My darling, you're worth it," I'll reply.
I'll remove the cubic zirconia stud earrings from the Dollar Store box and insert the glittering fake gems into my trembling earlobes. Under other circumstances, there's an expression of affection at this juncture, followed by the removal of under garments. Not so fast.
Now comes the tricky part. Cruising the cable TV channels could be disastrous. The last thing you want to do by yourself on the most romantic night of the year is to binge-watch a reality TV program about finding the perfect mate or one that more than implies that marriages turn murderous! I recommend sticking to French films without subtitles even if, like me, you don't speak the language. After all that champagne and wine, it will look like a 90-minute perfume ad. Just make sure it's not "A Man and a Woman," whose theme song alone has caused countless women to throw themselves off bridges or move to Paris.
After the film, I'll read romantic poetry, then take a bubble bath by candlelight while listening to Leonard Cohen. Will there be sex? Um, no. But plenty of sensuality as I slip into a satiny nightgown and run my fingertips over a virgin box of Godiva chocolates.
"I shouldn't," I will sigh.
"Oh, go ahead, you slender sylph!" I will reply.
Satiated, I will take myself to bed, winking at the smiling woman I see in the mirror. The one with chocolate on her lips and true love in her heart.