Love’s labours… lost! by Catherine Bennetto
2017/02/14  |  By:   |  Features  |  

‘It’s Valentines Day tomorrow,’ I said leadingly while stuck in traffic in the pouring rain, late for picking up the kids who were sent to school with no raincoats. ‘We don’t do Valentine’s Day,’ my husband said. ‘Why should we celebrate love on one specified day when there are 364 others in the year? I’ll be romantic when I want to not when I’m told to.’

As nice as it might be to receive a romantic gesture on the assigned day, I actually agree with the sentiment. Even if it was said in an offhand manner and followed by a stream of obscenities directed towards the reversing earthmover keeping us from our soggy children.

My husband may shun being told to show the love on Feb 14th (he always has had a problem being told what to do – he ignores sat navs because they’re too know-it-all) but he has been surprisingly romantic at unexpected times. Which seems to me to be far more meaningful. I shan’t give you examples because I have a word count restriction. And anyway, it’s actually the unconscious acts that move me the most. Such as:

- When I read out a good review I received on my first published novel and looked up to see his eyes watering.

- When I found out that, while overseas for a three-month contract, he’d listen to a playlist I made for the children each night because he missed being with his family. (This playlist included Wonky Donkey and the theme tune to Iggle Piggle.)

- When he asks me how I’d like my coffee each morning with no hint of the exasperation I know he harbours because I like it black, or with milk, or with sugar, or with almond milk, or with no sugar, or decaf, or so strong you could float an encyclopaedia on the top of it. Or ‘I’ve given up coffee. You know that.’

I’ve had dinners at overbooked, understaffed restaurants with boyfriends proffering a single rose the same as the girl’s at the next table, and the next, and the next. I’ve received the odd card from potential suitors I was sure was one of many they’d sent out that year. And I’ve had plenty of Valentines evenings alone, as an empowered woman, watching The Labyrinth, dreaming that a Goblin King with Lycra leggings and shiny balls might come and whisk me off the sofa at any given moment.

Most of those experiences (except the Lycra leggings one) left me feeling a little empty. So Amazon can keep its Valentines Day-themed bouquet of long stemmed chocolates roses, because nothing compares to (youooooo – sorry, a little Sinead O’Conner segue way there) my big bear of a husband getting tearful over a nice review his wife got.