Around the fourth or fifth grade, I decided it was time to express my affections to a pretty girl at Stratford Academy. Come Valentine’s Day, I purchased a lovely little heart-shaped pendant. I thought it was a solid win as I had seen my younger sister wearing similar jewelry. It turned out that the recipient could tell right away I had bought it from a quarter machine in the lobby of a restaurant. She wasn’t impressed. In fact, it was returned to me in the lunchroom– in front of a number of people– and it was explicitly explained to me that I had failed miserably at impressing anyone.
A couple of years later, I set my sights on older girls and began drawing pictures and writing love letters. I would anonymously slip notes through the vents in their lockers as we walked through the halls on the way to lunch. One that I remember being quite proud of had a drawing of a Reebok Pump sneaker on it with the caption, “You pump me up!” I was eventually found out, and needless to say– the upper-class bombshells were not thrilled about a middle schooler sending them creepily sexual secret admirer notes.
These days, I’m just not that crazy about the holiday. Maybe it’s due to years of being an utter cheapskate– but that shouldn’t be entirely my fault, right? In 2017, Americans spent more than 18 BILLION dollars on Valentine’s Day. That’s insane and averages $136 per capita. I can tell you without question, some of y’all are goin’ overboard– and I may suck at Valentine’s Day, but I have been married for almost ten years. Obviously, I do know a thing or two about romance. So with all of that said, let me take a moment to tell you about the woman who’s been receiving my sub-par Valentine’s Day gifts for the past decade.
She has been there for me when even I didn’t want to be there for myself. She’s seen me at my worst, yet she continually encourages me to be the best version of myself– without judgment (more or less). She leaves me notes around the house to remind me how much I mean to her, and she’s proofread a year’s worth of columns. I can’t even begin to go into how much I admire her as a parent as it would deserve an entire column all to itself, but let me simply say– she is incredible. She watched me shave my beard and bleach my hair in direct defiance of her considerate advice but still manages to convince me that she finds me attractive (I know, I’m as shocked as you). She is one of a kind, and I love her more than 18 billion candy hearts could ever express. Happy Valentine’s Day, Caitlin.