With Valentine’s Day upon us, I am reminded that I really don’t enjoy this romantic pseudo-holiday tradition, despite being very much in love with my spouse, the Carpenter. It’s not the sentiment of the day I don’t love, it’s the expectations.

I can’t afford another holiday with gifts. Don’t blame me, blame Christmas.

If you can’t afford to be a showboat either, don’t panic. Be passive aggressive, like me. Create an atmosphere of loving paranoia that will take the pressure off your end of the societal expectations for a romantic tradition, and land that guilt squarely on your partner.

 Let me show you how it’s done.

I’m sure none of you can relate to this, but the Carpenter spends a great deal of time on his phone. I’m baffled by his addiction to that device. I’m way more fun than a phone. Look. Up. At. Me.  (Aggressive). 

On Saturday morning, I decided to take action. I stood beside his recliner chair, silently, while he did whatever he does on his phone, waiting for my turn for attention. (Passive). It didn’t take long. He looked up at me, slowly, weary of my intent, anticipating my frustration. Instead, he saw my beaming face, smiling with excitement. It freaked him out (it’s my gift).

“Do you realize this year marks our 32nd Valentine’s Day together?” I said with a cheerful lilt in my voice, emphasis on the 32. The more-a-statement-than-a-question hovered in the air with a mist of confusion all around it. I’m spooky like that (passive and yet, still aggressive).

Awkward pause. The Carpenter’s jaw line tightened. That vein next to his left eye bulged slightly. His eyes darted side-to-side ever so quickly, as if analyzing the situation, but hoping to be inconspicuous. His hand moved up to his chin, and he held it there, because the thinking pose would give him pause to act reflective, as if he knew what was significant about the number 32.

He was trying to crack the Kelly Code. It was fun to watch. Was there a significance to 32 years that he was missing? Is it the number 32? Is it an anniversary? No. Is it her favourite number? No. That’s not it. Wait? It’s a test. What if it’s actually just 30 Valentines we’ve had together, but she’s made up a number to see if I can do the math?

He didn’t know whether to snap that recliner into the upright position, prepared for flight or fright mode, or to stay back and assume the position of calmly pretending he knew the answer to the question that was more a statement than a question. Or was it? (Truth: it was a statement.)

The Carpenter did what all smart partners do when they don’t know what to do; he repeated my words back to me with fake excitement. “Thirty-two Valentines Days. Wow. Time flies.”

We exchanged a knowing smile; his smile knowing I knew he had no idea what had just happened, and mine knowing I had left him wondering what just happened.

Sometimes love is putting down your phone and looking up at someone who adores you enough to mess with your head because they still think you’re the best thing in their world. Look up. 

Here’s to 32 more silly Valentine’s Days, Carpenter.

WriteOut of Her Mind