It was 2002 and it was my wife’s and my first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.
Up until this point, we had experienced nothing but marital bliss. Toilet seats were left up, clothing missed getting in to the hamper, a home cooked meal meant putting the take-out food on plates instead of eating right out of the bag, and through it all we looked at each other with the glimmer of love only being married less than a year can produce. Valentine’s Day was going to be like being newlyweds on performance enhancing drugs supplied by Cupid himself.
My wife decided to cook for our inaugural Valentine’s Day because we were poor enough that any restaurant with cloth napkins and no water spots on the silverware would have been too expensive. It was a daring move considering her culinary experience consisted of cooking Hamburger Helper but, as I said, we were newlyweds and anything we did was seen as a testament of our unyielding love for each other (even potential food poisoning). We planned to have a candle lit dinner, music from a tape I had mixed a few years prior when I was still trying to impress my wife, and then let the night go where it may.
Before the evening’s festivities could get underway, my father-in-law had asked if I could help him move a few pieces of furniture out of the apartment building he had recently sold. According to his estimates, he needed roughly an hour of my time. I had no reason to believe it would take any longer and seeing as how he seemed to like me, I knew he wouldn’t purposefully subject me to the wraith of his Italian daughter by keeping me any longer than necessary. Plus, it was early enough in the afternoon to have plenty of time before dinner (or whatever it was my wife was making). I agreed. It also gave me a perfect reason to stop on my way back home to pick up flowers for my wife and to help the night go where it may.
Four hours later, I had serious reservations if my father-in-law in fact liked me. I also discovered my father-in-law’s loose grasp of what an hour consisted of. What I thought was to be a few pieces of furniture turned in to moving the first floor of Liberace’s house. By the time my wife had called me for the 17th time to find out where I was, I couldn’t have answered her call if I wanted to (I knew what she was going to be like, I didn’t really want to) because I was pinned between the 2nd floor stairwell wall and a sofa bed that was digging in to my pelvic bone. I not only ignored my wife’s phone calls but I was epically late, dinner was ruined, my wife crying and yelling at the same time, and then I made my fatal mistake…I stayed to finish. The damage had been done and besides my wife thought everything I did was awesome (which is why I never bothered to pick up clothing or put the toilet seat down), so I decided to hang in there for the next 30 minutes to help my father-in-law. When we got done, I said ‘goodbye’ because I wasn’t sure I would ever see him again. I listened to all of the messages my wife left on my way home, each one increasingly more angry and less chance that I was still awesome. I opened the door to my house slowly, scanned the room before going in, and only went in once I knew she wasn’t behind the door with a knife. My wife was upstairs. Door closed. She left out a plate of food so I ate because I knew I was going to need my strength for what was coming. I called off the APB my wife put out on me, put the unplayed mix tape back in its clear plastic case, and I let the night go where it may which happened to be me apologizing for the rest of the night. She forgave me sometime around St Patrick’s Day, it was around this time that leaving the toilet seat up was no longer acceptable, and I agreed to never, under any circumstances save for rescuing him from a burning building, help my father-in-law on Valentine’s Day again.