“’Di na kailangan ’yan, ayos na ’to,” says my husband, shooing away a boy hard-selling him long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day.
That, from my Valentine’s Scrooge, translates into, “Humbug!”
The day’s pushy commercialism disgusts him. If we happen to watch some show, it’s simply because Valentine’s Day occasions good shows. And if we eat out, it’s nothing special: We eat at least one meal out a day—in Greenbelt, our virtual front yard.
In fact, we resent the huge Valentine’s crowd that descends on our turf, clogging roads and carparks.
“It’s all about guilt,” proclaims my husband. He’s convinced that a husband goes overboard for Valentine’s for atonement. By his Scroogian logic, the graver the sin, the more he goes overboard.
Once, at a restaurant during a family reunion on his father’s side, I pointed out to him what would seem a sweet scene: a cousin-in-law spooning food into his wife’s mouth; he was all over her, in fact.
“Siguradong maraming kasalanan ’yan!” Surely sinful, he was quick to conclude, nipping in the bud the envy growing in me.
Well, his theory hasn’t really been debunked yet. On the contrary, it tends to gain credence with every ascertainable case. In the case of his cousin-in-law, his solicitousness toward his wife increased as she drew near death—unknown to us, she had been battling cancer, which would have in itself earned him the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, before she died, he had become revealed for his infidelities.
A friend aware of Vergel’s contrarian attitude has remarked, more or less as a concession to him, that true romance chooses no season: “Valentine’s Day should be every day.”
But Vergel can be really terrible. “Oh,” he says, “now romance becomes rote—a habit.”
As for our own romance, the wooing part is long past. Indeed, I’ve been won, and we—both of us, not just him—are way past gift-giving. Whatever we want on or out of occasion, we shop for. I guess the romance lies in doing it together, and nothing heightens our excitement as much as when we find what we’re looking for on sale.
Some wives, upon realizing that their husbands are either hopeless shoppers or just too busy or not inclined to remember Valentine’s, have decided to take over the occasion, rather than have their husbands’ secretaries do it. They pick their own gifts, and you can bet they’re not anything so romantic and cheap as chocolates and flowers.
Thus, the husband is brought to proper, and expensive, remembrance: “Guess what you gave me for Valentine’s?” Which also implies forgiveness for forgetting.
It’s a perfect arrangement, indeed. Wives don’t need to suffer the waiting, the hoping, the praying for their husbands to come around on their own. It all makes for fewer unhappy women on Valentine’s Day.
Still, surely, romance lives on, if not in its original form. In our case, it mostly lies in the comfort and security of each other’s company. The old magic may happen rarely, but the rarity of those private moments makes them more precious and exciting.
A formula that works
Each determined couple should find a formula that works. In our case, we like to talk—news, books, and such philosophies as we feel we have grown to appreciate in our advanced years. We may write physically apart, but we read our work to each other at every stage of its composition, which makes us feel we effectively write together.
We enjoy certain TV shows, and, more than ever, our life together is surrounded by music, if not actually set to it—music he sometimes provides himself.
And laughter we’re never ever short of.
Vergel doesn’t bring me flowers, except when sampaguita is in season, which is especially thoughtful—sampaguita reminds me of Mom, and he knows it. What he really enjoys is hunting for books for him and for me. Sometimes he comes home excited at having found one he knows I’ll particularly love. He has never been wrong yet.
Hands down, my dad would have easily won the title of best Valentine gift-giver. He was not only generous, he had good taste, and he knew jewelry well, a specialization he learned from his own mother. Of course, Vergel would have been so right about him, too. For many good years, Mom lived from Valentine’s to Valentine’s.
Anyway, each woman to her own Valentine, and mine just happens to be a lovable Scrooge whose theory, I must admit, has a charm of its own.