A curmudgeonly perspective on Valentine's Day
There I was staring at blank screen with a February 14 file name. It was yesterday morning. Tuesday. Nothing like a blank screen and a deadline to charge the ole creative juices. Then inspiration arrived. One of my colleagues.
Looking at the empty screen and perhaps into my equally empty head she said "Write about Valentine's Day." And then she offered her view of this "holiday." In a nutshell she and her spouse choose to set their own calendar for exchanges of endearments. They like to surprise each other.
While I'm not big on surprises, I do like the idea of communicating affection on my timetable. And in my own way, rather than having the larger society set my schedule for expressing unconditional regard.
I'm not big on Valentine's Day. A plot to extract gifts. Extortion in pink and red. Candy and flowers and cards and baubles to proclaim love. How about shallow?
Don't misunderstand. I'm among the last romantics. The light of my life appeared in a 7:30 a.m. class in the summer of 1960. My world has never been the same. And after all these years it gets better and better.
It was a class at Stetson University. Graduate school. After completing her undergraduate work in English, Sally had gone to work as secretary to the Dean of Students at Stetson. I was a school teacher trying to find my way to a master's degree in counseling.
The title of the course was "Introduction to Counseling." All of the psychology courses met in a very old building. The class in question convened in the only room in the building with an air-conditioner, the rat laboratory. The window unit re-circulated the rich aromas provided by the surviving rats.
The instructor was an eccentric clinical psychologist. To use a clinical term, he was "out to lunch." Conducted class from a chaise lounge. And on more than one occasion he dozed during class. Yeah, at 7:30 a.m. But it was the most important of my one hundred plus college courses.
In this class with encouragement from mutual friends, Sally and I became friends. She helped me with the production of my master's thesis draft that summer. At the end of the term I helped her move into a new apartment. However, it was almost twelve months before we had our first "date."
Much of our courting was accomplished taking long walks on Atlantic beaches. We still enjoy those same strolls. Another patch of personal common ground we share is located in western North Carolina. All this to help establish that I'm hopelessly romantic.
In fact, I keep a short list of romantic tales to recommend to friends. This year's valentines for readers, so to speak. One I read at the beach. The other in the mountains. The beach read was "Corelli's Mandolin" by Louis de Bernieres. A tale of the shore for reading on the shore.
The other, Terry Kay's "Shadow Song," got consumed last fourth of July. A story set in the mountains of upstate New York read in the highlands of our southland. Yellow Mountain, NC to be specific.
The valentine gift I've received every day since that 7:30 am class is to share my life with one of those people who can listen with her heart. So this evening I'll get to prepare one of her favorite salmon dishes. She'll fix a new dish to compliment the fish. And best of all, we'll get to share those with each other.
And if this be error and upon me proved, it's because this is one column that did not go under review by my at home editor.
Bill Scaggs is president emeritus at Meridian Community College and a senior consulting editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.