Living Within Your Emotional Means on Valentine’s Day

Some people have a knack for the Grand Romantic Gesture. They’re the ones who swim the Hellespont, write soulful ballads in milady’s honour, or casually slip the keys to a Maserati under their partner’s breakfast plate.

Then, there are the rest of us, the romantically-challenged, who just can’t get it right, no matter how many courses we’ve taken in Hallmarkology.

The only GRG I recall pulling off happened before I even understood that’s what it was. It started with a surreptitious note from Mary MacLean during a spectacularly boring Grade 3 class.

“I have baby kittens in the hayloft. Want to see them?”

Now, there’s a come-on if there ever was one. Who could resist a farm-fresh batch of kittenhood? Besides, Mary MacLean was kind of cute, now that you mention it.

At the end of the day, as Mary caught the school bus, I ran home to get my tricycle and headed for the highway looking for adventure.

Until that day, I had no idea how many rotations a tricycle wheel takes to cover three-point-something miles. Still, I plunged valiantly onward until the MacLeans’ barn finally hove into view.

Must. See. Kittens.

Mary was in the hayloft when I arrived. While she went to fetch me a much-needed jar of water, I introduced myself to the kittens, who were so unimpressed they didn’t even bother opening their eyes.

To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed either. After a few minutes, a furry mass of wiggling and sucking loses its enchantment. But, have I mentioned that Mary was kind of cute? Time, as they say, passed.

“My goodness, Kenny, are you still here? Your parents must be worried sick,” Mrs. MacLean admonished when she came to call Mary for supper.

Since I was the fourth child, known as a bit of a dreamer, my absence hadn’t provoked any such response. Nor did it prompt an offer from Dad to come and get me when I phoned to report my whereabouts.

His exact words were, “You made it there, I’m sure you can make it back.”

Apparently, the rule that the homeward stretch is shorter doesn’t apply to tricycles. When I finally arrived, I was too tired to eat the stone-cold supper that had been left for me.

I was even too weary to ward off my older brothers’ taunts of, “Kenny’s got a girlfriend. Kenny’s got a girlfriend,” or my sister’s irritating chant of, “First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes Mary with a baby carriage.”

According to the GRG Handbook, I should now be reporting that Mary and I just celebrated our anniversary with all 14 grandchildren, but that’s not exactly how things went.

If there’s a cautionary tale here for my fellow romantic clods this Valentine’s Day, it’s this: Do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before embarking on a GRG.

If it’s within your financial means, go ahead and book that weekend in Venice, or order that little bijou from Cartier. If you have the right emotional stuff, climb the Matterhorn or write a symphony for your beloved.

But remember, there’s a reason florists and chocolatiers exist. And eggs benny with a mimosa served in bed may be trite, but it’s often true.

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