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FAMILY   -   FAMILY FEATURES
Valentine's Day Disasters
February, 2007 - Issue #28
Have you ever been tricked by Saint Valentine?

Have you ever bought flowers and candy, made reservations at the most romantic restaurant in town, worn your most flattering outfit and rented a limousine, only to find yourself on the wrong end of a date-night disaster?

Or worse, have you ever felt the full force of the Valentine's Day breakup, that particularly nasty hangover that afflicts so many romantics this time of year?

It's a well-known but rarely talked-about truth that Valentine's Day sports a dark side. It's not all candy hearts and long-stemmed roses.

Once, I spent the greater part of Valentine's Day afternoon searching for my car keys at a grocery store. I never found them and had to borrow a friend's car to execute the date I had so meticulously planned.

Later that night, I was pulled over while taking my date home. The officer was sure I'd been drinking, which I hadn't. It didn't help that I couldn't find the registration and that the car was not even mine... a disaster.

A few years later a friend and I decided it would be a great idea to charter a sailboat to take our dates around Santa Barbara for a romantic tour.

Have you ever been on and open boat in the ocean on a windy night in February? We ended that experience shivering, begging the captain to take us in early. Another disaster.

Things got more serious years later, when I had made plans to propose to my girlfriend on Valentine's Day, only to be foiled by a clerical error. I'll spare you the details, but for want of a simple phone call, my girlfriend and I went to the Cheesecake Factory while the engagement ring stayed behind locked doors at the Post Office.

The evening proceeded without a proposal and ended on a rather cool note. Debbie, who had been waiting (or hoping) for a proposal since Christmas, was beginning to wonder if one would ever come.

It did, the next day, though not quite the way I'd planned it.

That was 13 years ago and I still consider her "I'd marry you today" response as the best answer to a question I've ever received.

"It's a well-known but rarely talked-about truth that VALENTINE'S DAY sports a dark side. It's not all candy hearts and long-stemmed roses."
But that doesn't mean I've let Valentine's Day's off the hook. I can't urge you more strongly to approach it with great caution.

Expectations rise so high. How can a couple, no matter how hard they try, expect to meet them?

Chances are one of you, if not both, will go to sleep on February 14 disappointed. For some of you, the last thoughts running through your mind will be, "This is the last Valentine's Day I'm going to waste on so-and-so."

But as sure as this peculiar celebration of romantic love is a part of the landscape of our culture, you probably won't take my advice.

Frankly, I don't expect you to.

You'll plunge full speed toward that iceberg dead ahead, blithely unaware that your relationship may spend the next week or so bobbing along in a lifeboat or worse, on the bottom of the sea.

If on February 15 you can count yourself among Saint Valentine's latest victims, you have options.

First, you can simply move on. You may have experienced a date-night disaster for a reason, you know. The cliche in athletics is, "Sports doesn't build character, it reveals it."

You could say the same thing about Valentine's Day. It doesn't build relationships. It exposes them.

Of course, you can always try to patch things up. If this is you, here's my second-to-last piece of advice: Forgive. If you can sincerely do this, no relationship is ever beyond rescue.

Finally, be more careful next year. Don't let Saint Valentine catch you with your guard down because he packs a pretty good wallop.

I confess he got me one other time back in 1996. That's when my very pregnant wife shook me out of sleep on February 13 to announce it was time to go to the hospital.

The labor lasted about 22 hours and resulted in a cracked tailbone and an emergency caesarian section.

Mom and daughter survived the ordeal, though, and I spent that particular Valentine's Day evening staring at the swaddled little princess that would become the next great love of my life.

Saint Valentine owed me that one, I figured.

But it was my last Valentine's Day celebration; February 14 is my daughter's birthday.

Deb and I are playing it safe. We save our romantic dinner for February 15.
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