Like an old pair of slippers

2010-02-08 00:00

FOR my nieces, who are both young teenagers, Valentine’s Day ranks a very close second on their excitement scale behind Christmas Day. This is especially true now that members of the opposite sex have gone from being considered disgusting alien life forms, barely worthy of a second glance, to beings of total fascination in the girls’ estimations.

For them, Valentine’s Day is all about cupids and roses and starry-eyed romance. Not forgetting a large box of chocolates, if the recipient of their affections has any sense at all.

And this how it should be. There’s time enough later to become all cynical and jaded about it.

I remember being most perturbed by the adage that young love is like a new pair of shoes that you want to wear every day and show off for everyone to admire. Then, after several years of wearing in and wearing out, they eventually end up like a pair of old slippers — familiar and comfortable, but not something you’d want to wear to town with your new dress.

When my husband and I first started dating, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with all the enthusiasm of the young and enamoured. I have a large and some would say enviable collection of lovey- dovey paraphernalia to prove it.

My cupboards abound with old florist’s vases, an entire farmyard of fluffy, doe-eyed animals that profess to “luff” me madly and a wad of cards imparting syrupy sentiment. There’s even one that blows little battery-operated kisses when you open it.

However, after 18 years of wedded bliss, I must confess that my beloved and I have developed a certain apathy when it comes to rushing out and buying each other the biggest card in the shop, in order to tell each other what we already know. Or should know.

This is not to say that the romance is dead by any means, but there’s no denying that keeping the fires of passion ablaze requires a fair amount of fanning and to expect the annual exchange of schmaltzy cards to achieve this, is asking a bit much. Even if they do blow kisses.

And anyway, half the fun of Valentine’s Day lies in the intrigue: the thrilling notion that one has a secret admirer, unless of course it’s your other half receiving the anonymous greetings, in which case thrilling may not be the expression that springs to mind.

Although not a declaration of love in the conventional sense, I’m of the opinion that a tidy house, a meal on the table and his shirts washed and ironed, say more to my man about my devotion than presenting him with a slab of chocolate, a bottle of aftershave or a pair of heart-emblazoned underpants declaring him to be the best lover in the world. Okay, well maybe they would be the exception.

As for me, I’m easily wooed and fall in love all over again when he fixes the dishwasher, paints the bathroom or puts the toilet seat down.

But even I recognise the limited romantic value in this and to prevent our fire from fizzling out, instead of messing about painting bathrooms we should be out together painting the town red.

So with this in mind, my beloved and I have decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the more traditional sense this year. You know, where he pays for dinner and a movie and I get all dollied up and play hard to get.

And I know we’ll have a good time, because after all these years I’d rather be wearing an old pair of slippers with my new dress, than fancy new shoes that give me nothing but backache and blisters.

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