Sweet Without the Heart

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. The day of love, though nothing “loving” ever occurred on this dreadful day. I’m talking massacres, executions of priests. Valentine’s Day should really be called the day of martyrdom, because a lot of saints were killed this day. Lord only knows which “St. Valentine” the holiday is actually named after.

Nevertheless, today we celebrate love. Couples exchange long sappy paragraphs and cheesy love poems, men break the bank buying roses, chocolates (specifically truffles), and romantic dinners for their loves, boyfriends propose to their girlfriends, and the already betrothed get married, social media addicts flaunt their relationships, much to the chagrin of their miserable single friends.

Like I said, nothing “good” ever happens on Valentine’s Day.

Truthfully, it’s a holiday I can do without. Not because I’m single and bitter, though I am half of that equation (the half that’s not bitter). I would say my hatred strong dislike for Valentine’s Day started in high school. My high school had a tradition that in hindsight was quite a nice gesture. Organized by the student council, every Valentine’s Day, students could purchase a rose for a dollar to be delivered to their sweetheart during first period.

First period, Valentine’s Day, Freshman year. Student council members walk into the classroom carrying baskets of roses. They stand before the class and read off the names on the cards. One by one, each girl, and even some guys, step up to receive their gifts. Some one rose, others two or three, a few wrap their arms around dozens. . . . And I get nothing.

For four years, I had to live that experience. It’s meaningless now, but back then, during my emotional high school years, when those teenage hormones were raging, it was like a dagger through my heart. You mean to tell me no one, not one person, thought about me on Valentine’s Day? It’s not like all of my classmates were dating someone. Most of them were single like me. It was their friends who were spending a week’s worth of lunch money on roses for them.

I bought my friends roses. When I had a boyfriend, I bought him a rose. No one got me anything.

I take that back. One year, either my Junior or Senior year, I received one rose from my little brother. It was so sweet. He signed the card with one letter, K. But I recognized his handwriting in a second. It was the thought that made me smile, though. The thought was more important.

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Still, I’ve learned not to expect anything on Valentine’s Day. That way I’m never disappointed, and if something special does happen, I’m always surprised.

Now, the only Valentine’s gifts I receive are from my Mom or my Granddaddy. Granddaddy’s gift today really made up for the blunder he had this past Saturday. He’d invited me as his guest to a Sweetheart Breakfast at his church. Now Granddaddy already has a “lady friend” so I wasn’t sure if my invitation was just an afterthought or if he truly wanted me to be there. I came anyway, on time, though on time for that church means five minutes early. His lady friend was there, as I’d expected, but Granddaddy still pulled out the chair for me and served me breakfast, a menu he no doubt wrote himself (scrambled eggs, potatoes and onions, sausage, sweet apples, and a roll—if that ain’t a classic old black man breakfast, I don’t know what is). However, the problem came during the introduction of sweethearts, when he stood up and said:

“This is my granddaughter. She’s not married, that’s why she didn’t bring nobody.”

Valentine’s Day, a vindictive holiday created to remind the single that they ain’t got nobody.

I put on the biggest fake smile I could muster and tried to laugh with everyone else clearly amused by my exposed loneliness. The clapback came hours later while I was in my room trying to erase the embarrassment from my memory.

I don’t need a man. I’m married to Jesus.”

I dare the seasoned saints at that church to tell me He doesn’t count.

By the way, I wasn’t the only single woman there. I was just the only one who got called out. I’m still trying understand his point, other than to make a joke at my expense. His church being very old with a dying congregation, all the men there were his age. Even if there was one guy from my generation, it wouldn’t matter because they all brought their sweethearts. Remember, Sweetheart Breakfast. Maybe he’d hoped to hook me up with somebody’s grandson? Eh, I’ll pass.

Granddaddy redeemed himself today, though. He bought me roses and a box of Dove milk chocolate truffle hearts, so I guess I can forgive him.

Looky there, now two people have bought me roses on Valentine’s Day. Ain’t I special!

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