I’ll admit it, I’m high maintenance and I’ve been that way for a long time. It’s just who I am, part of my charm if you will. Part of me being high maintenance means that sometimes, I have unreasonably high expectations of those around me. Unreasonable if you are that person, totally reasonable if you’re me.
Case and point, my first Valentine’s Day with GI Joe. We’d been dating for nearly a year, had been through 3 months of separation when he went to boot camp, I survived a road trip from Iowa to South Carolina with his parents to see him graduate from said boot camp (if you know his parents you know what an adventure that was!), and we were talking marriage, it was serious. Even though GI Joe is 110% Alpha Male with the whole soldier/country boy thing going on, he’s old fashioned when it comes to courtship and actually quite the romantic. Don't mention that in front of his Army or hunting/fishing buddies of course, but truth be told he is. While he was at boot camp, he’d wake up in the middle of the night to go hide out in a bathroom stall to write me letters. He wrote me EVERY SINGLE DAY of his training. And they weren’t just “hey how you doing? I am fine. We shot a gun today. OK Bye” letters. No sir, these were deep, professing his undying love for me, planning our future, all kinds of sappy stuff that I like to torture him with now! You bet I kept every single one. He's always been quite romantic so when it came to our very first Valentine's Day, the international day of love, I expected greatness. Poor GI Joe.
So rewind, 12 years to 1997, our first Valentine's Day as a couple. Valentine's Day was on a Friday I think and I worked in an office full of girls about my age. EVERYONE got flowers delivered. I kept thinking "I'm sure mine will be coming soon, knowing him he's got some grand scheme planned." Ummm not so much. Now here's the thing, I think having flowers delivered ON Valentine's Day is uninspired, overrated and a big waste of money, send them some random day during the year when the whole world isn't telling you too, it means more. But I think that day it was seeing all the other girls who I knew didn't have half the relationship I had with GI Joe, getting flowers and thinking their guy was the greatest thing ever when I knew that mine really was the greatest thing ever. And then being asked by said gloating girls "where are your flowers?" I was slightly grouchy by the end of the day and on the verge of tears to say the least.
GI Joe picked me up from work that afternoon, totally unsuspecting that he was about to see a very ugly side of me. He was being his usual sweet self but didn't have the dozen roses I half expected him to have. Instead, he handed me a single purple rose. Now most girls might've graciously accepted the rose and been thankful for the thought. Let me remind you I am not most girls. Instead, I silently accepted the rose and was strangely quite for the duration of our car ride. The whole time I was thinking "A PURPLE rose? He brings me one measly rose and it's PURPLE?, What am I his Grandma?" Oh did I mention I'm a bit of a drama queen too? But somehow I managed to keep my thoughts to myself, for once, and determined to not let stupid flowers make or break our evening.
Turns out the flowers were just the tip of the iceberg.
So in my head I had pictured our first Valentine's Day date to be at a nice restaurant complete with candlelight followed by going to see a movie, a romantic comedy, perhaps. I've since learned to share these visions with GI Joe. But we were young and dumb back then so I just assumed that he already had it all planned out and it would be perfect. He did have it planned out. Imagine my surprise when we pulled in the parking lot at the ROYAL FORK BUFFET. Don't get me wrong, I am a girl who loves to eat but a buffet for Valetine's Day? Turns out his church had a tradition called the Adult and Youth Group Valentine's Day outing that consisted of going out to eat together and then bowling. And guess what? That's what we were doing. As much as I love the people who were there that evening, it just wasn't what I had in mind. Amazingly enough, I managed to plaster on a smile and pretend to enjoy myself. (Editor's Note: In my old age, I've gotten progressively worse about being able to do this.) I was so convincing that GI Joe had no idea that anything was wrong until we pulled into the parking lot of the bowling alley. And I had a complete and total breakdown, sobbing hysterically and making absolutely no sense but I'm pretty sure I covered all alleged offenses including: no flowers sent to work, a PURPLE rose, Royal Fork w/ mostly senior citizens, and NOW BOWLING! I just couldn't fake it anymore. Poor poor GI Joe, he didn't know what hit him or who this puffy eyed, blubbering monster was in his passenger seat. In his defense, I had not given him any hints as to what I would like to do for Valentine's Day AND it was the first Valentine's Day he'd had a serious girlfriend to share it with.
Needless to say, we didn't go bowling. I don't even think he went in to tell everyone else that we were leaving, he probably didn't want to have to admit that his girlfriend was insane and possibly schizophrenic. We went back to his house and he spent the rest of the night apologizing profusely for messing up and I, being the gracious and classy lady that I am, let him grovel.
Here's what that very traumatic first Valentine's Day taught both of us that have been invaluable in our marriage:
1) I am very very high maintenance, and dramatic, and spoiled and he married me anyway so there's no one to blame but himself.
2) I'm a lucky lucky girl.
3) Don't assume anything. We've figured out that neither of us are mind readers, so if we have expectations for something we'd better say it.
4) That first Vday wasn't a complete loss as he's been trying to make up for it for the last 12 years.
P.S. I was over it about 11 years and 51 weeks ago, but don't tell him. I just got a trip to Puerto Rico out of it.