Valentine’s Day. Why doesn’t it live up to our expectations?
Remember when we were kids with a bagful of those awful- tasting little hearts? The ones with the words on them like ‘True Love,’ or ‘You’re Cute,’ stuff like that? And your girlfriends would all dare you to give one to Danny or Johnny or whoever it was you were all weak-kneed over that year?
And you knew when you grew up that love would find you and it would be wonderful and change your life.
And then it doesn’t happen. Even when you wait and wait and everything seems right.
Take Jerry Martin. This year’s flavor? I don’t know. Six months ago when those deep blue eyes looked over at me across a crowded seminar, music started playing.
“You have a kind face,” he said when he came over at coffee break.
And you’re a hunk, I thought. “Looking for kindness?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Well, I missed the morning session and I was looking for someone to fill me in. The rest of this afternoon is pretty familiar stuff.”
“I did it last year.”
“Really?” A wave of thick dark hair fell over his forehead and he brushed it away with a gesture that made my heart jump. “Say, there’s a quiet place around the corner where we could talk.”
“Lead the way.” I grabbed my little attache case and pointed my size fives in his direction.
I think he was after more than kindness. We talked till dinner and then ordered wine with the sole and salad. After that, it was dinner and drinks whenever we happened to be in town at the same time.
Turned out his office is fairly near mine in the financial district. He’s an auditor for a chain of retail stores. I’m a sales rep for a publishing company.
It was nice having someone who looked like that to dream about, someone gentle but not a wimp. There was something about Jerry that made you want to listen to him. At least I did.
Lately the single state hasn’t seemed all that terrific. Chalk it up to a schedule that doesn’t give me much social life. And to the fear that has been stalking my apartment complex. Someone has been doing break and enters but it isn’t just property he’s after. Women have been attacked. He was waiting when they came home from work. Times like this the coupled condition has a certain attraction. Even without the romance.
And I’ve got to admit, Jerry was romantic. Little by little he became the only one I was seeing. Then one day he called. I always got a little thrill when I heard his voice on the phone. “I think it’s time you met the most important person in my life,” he says.
Oh, oh. I phoned, Lou Ann, my best friend. “He wants me to meet his mother.”
“His mother? You two that far already? I think he’s a real dreamy guy and all that. In fact, if I wasn’t all involved with Laurence, and of course, if Jerry wasn’t yours, I could really go for him. Nice looking, on his way up, non-smoker. A girl could do worse.”
“Jerry’s great. But maybe he’s jumping the gun. I don’t know if I’m ready for anything serious…”
“Why don’t you give me his number? Laurence will understand.”
“Now hold on, Lou Ann. Do I horn in on your relationships?”
“What relationships? Laurence? You can have him.”
“I’m happy with Jerry, thanks. And I’ve got to get ready.”
“Call me with details.”
I hung up, wondering. You know all those stories people tell about their best friend and their boyfriend? Oh, nuts. I could trust Lou Ann, couldn’t I?
I got out the dress I use for weddings and funerals. Sort of a purply-mauve with a little scarf. The finishing touch is the expensive matching pumps I bought on a quickie tour of Italy.
“Hi. You look terrific,” Jerry said, when he rang the doorbell at eight.
“Don’t you look swell, Donna,” Mrs. Patrickson next door was just limping in from her senior’s foot clinic on the arm of her nephew, Mac.
“This is Jerry Martin,” I said.
Mac gave me a friendly smile. He was tall, blonde and good-looking. Mrs. Patrickson often said she hoped Mac and I would become romantically involved but our schedules never seemed to work out. Now, seeing me with Jerry, Mac would probably give up trying.
“Have a nice time, you two,” Mrs. Patrickson said.
“Glad to meet you both,” Jerry said, shaking hands. He seemed oblivious to Mac’s attractions. Was I with the wrong guy?