When it comes to special days like birthdays or Valentine’s Day, I am not the best planner in the world. Fortunately, my wife is a very practical person, and that has eased my burden somewhat. For our birthdays it is not unusual for us to elect to buy things for the house, or items we otherwise both can use. Similarly, Valentine’s Day is a simple affair; an exchange of cards and dinner out will usually fill the bill.

Still, those cards and dinner can prove challenging for a very busy person such as myself. My wife asks me what I am always so busy doing, and I tell her I am busy “thinking great thoughts.” I am not sure she is buying it; she might be on to me. Anyway, I am a very busy man thinking great thoughts, and that presents challenges in proper planning for these pesky holiday happenings.

Our Valentine’s Day dinners are often held at unique, obscure and out of the way places. I like to tell my wife we are boldly trying new concepts, but the reality is that these places were often just allowed to reopen by the health department or the crime scene tape just came down; whatever the reason, they were places that still had open seats when I got around to making reservations late that afternoon.

The cards, too, can prove to be a challenge. We do not have children, but years ago the tradition developed where we each get cards from each other, as well as cards from our cats. Believe me, with the cost of cards, when we had four cats this was quite the financial undertaking. One Valentine’s Day, Coal, our blind cat that I’ve written about before, got my wife a pale blue card congratulating her on her Bar Mitzvah. It was a politically incorrect joke that gave her a brief chuckle, and me an internal guffaw that has lasted to this day. Still, these cards can be challenging, as being a very busy man thinking great thoughts, I actually have to remember to buy them on time.

This means that I often find myself in the card aisle of my local CVS or Walgreens at around noon on Valentine’s Day, fighting over the remaining card scraps with about a dozen losers who also failed to plan correctly. I don’t know what their problems is. After all, we can’t all be busy thinking great thoughts. One thing we almost always have in common; everyone in the card aisle at this particular time is a man. They all have a dazed look on their faces, and generally grab any card that is red and head to the register.

I always think of an old TV commercial when I am in this situation. It showed a woman searching the card aisle for the perfect Valentine’s Day card for her man. She was there forever, reading every card and struggling to select the one with the perfect message expressing the love she felt. Then the scene cuts to her male partner, who, while buying a six-pack of beer, notices a card on a rack by the register. With a brief shrug, he pulls out the card and without even reading it, adds it to his purchase. The commercial ends with her fawning over this perfect card with the perfect message – never knowing how he came to purchase it. I suspect that commercial was far more accurate than many men will admit. 

I am always a bit concerned at being seen in this particular situation. I don’t want any of these losers judging me for being a last-minute card shopper. After all, they are in the same boat, and likely aren’t even thinking great thoughts. They really should plan better next time.

This year I received a shock. Because of my schedule, I ended up at a completely different CVS than any I had used in previous holiday crises. There was a good selection of cards left at this location, and there were, as usual, a dozen or so losers in the card aisle. But incredibly, they were all women. I was the only man in the bunch. I will assume, for the purposes of this writing, that they were all busy thinking great thoughts, lest I be labeled a misogynistic pig for assuming otherwise. It’s bad enough I just called them losers. The fact that I earlier referred to men as losers will be irrelevant to some. But I digress….

Anyway, these women were all deeply searching for the perfect card. I was impressed with their efforts as I grabbed three red cards and headed for the register.

Strangely I felt much more comfortable shopping in an aisle full of last minute gals over of a bunch of last minute guys. I’ll have to remember that CVS for future holiday emergencies.

I hope you all had a safe and happy Valentine’s Day. Next year, should you run across me in the card aisle on that special day, don’t judge me. I’ve been busy thinking great thoughts.





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