I Won’t Forget the Flowers

As promised, here’s the link to my second community column for The Huntsville Times.

And, once again, they left off the first paragraph in the online edition. For the record, here it is:

“Another Valentine’s Day rolls around, and my mind is drawn back to 1976–and Annie. I sang her song, and it didn’t matter that she was John Denver’s wife because it wasn’t really about her.”

I don’t know why they keep leaving off the first paragraph. I’ll have to ask the editor about that. Fortunately, the print edition was fine, and they even used one of the pictures they had taken instead of the first one I sent in, the one Eyegal calls my “terrorist” passport photo.

The newspaper reserves the right to edit at will, so I always hold my breath a little until I see the final product. Aside from a few small edits, most of which I agree with, it’s pretty much what I sent in.

I drew upon ideas from two previous blog posts (here and here) to create this Valentine Day’s special. Some of you may be wondering if I surprised Eyegal with this one. The answer is “no.” I let her read it before I sent it in. That whole “surprise” thing can work against you too if you’re not careful, know what I mean?

I think she was pleased. In fact, I’m figuring that this ought to be worth, oh, about 5 years worth of those $5 cards with the pop-out inserts.

But don’t worry–I won’t forget the flowers.

  1. Hal

    Nice. I whole-heartedly agree. We normally don’t make a big deal on Valentines Day. This year, however, I’m doing two things that will be out of character for me on Valentines Day. I’m sending Allyson a singing Valentines, because Sarah’s chorus is having a fundraiser. And it’s fun anyway.

    A friend of ours recently bought a minibus for his business (ie. tax write-off). He’s going to take 7 couples to Sonic for a candle-light dinner on the bus, and then we’re going to a local mega-church to hear a Christian comedian (Jeff Allen). On the way home he plans to stop at a Dairy Queen for their Valentine ice cream cake special. This plan was so delightfully tacky that I just couldn’t pass it up.

    As fun as all that sounds, I would trade it in a second for afternoon delight in the trenches.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Sonic sounds just about right. Is there any room left on that minibus?

  3. mmlace

    Really good stuff. Thanks, Dr. Eyeguy!

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    The link to my column is now broken. Here is the column in its entirety:

    Another Valentine’s Day rolls around, and my mind is drawn back to 1976—and Annie. I sang her song, and it didn’t matter that she was John Denver’s wife because it wasn’t really about her.

    I had in my mind’s eye some future “Annie” who, unlike the freshman cheerleaders who were so blasted picky, would overlook my pimples, frizzy “fro,” skinny arms and oversized aviator glasses and consent to “filling up my senses” anyway. Geeky 15-year-old guys have been known to think such thoughts.

    That year, our family attended a John Denver concert at the Roanoke, Virginia Civic Center. Off we went for an earful of “Rocky Mountain High”—my parents and me, sandwiched into Section 7, Row 32, Seat 5 between my two sisters. Yes, those were wild times in Southwest Virginia. It’s a wonder that I survived them.

    Meanwhile, in St. Louis, my future wife was waving a Zippo lighter while riding some dude’s shoulders at a Boston concert.

    But what my parents hadn’t counted on was the opening act—the one-hit wonder Starland Vocal Band. As they launched into the song that briefly lit their flame of fame, sparks began to fly in my direction, and I leaned forward in my seat, all ears and very intrigued—“skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight, aaaafternoon delight!”

    Oh really? I thought.

    Of course, even hippies extolling the virtues of free love can occasionally stumble upon a nugget of truth. And as I consider this idea of casual, everyday loving, of “anytime, anywhere” romance, it strikes me once again how much time, effort—and money—we put into February 14th.

    As if it were the one make-it-or-break-it day of true romance, we pile it on: long waits at overcrowded bistros, roses (one or a dozen, it doesn’t matter), lacey teddies, heart-covered boxers and 5-dollar cards with pop-out inserts that rise higher than the construction scaffolding on the side of a fresh, 10-storey building.

    In short, we have Great Expectations and lots of them. Sometimes they’re met, sometimes not.

    O! Must we be so predictable? Well, yes, of course we must; otherwise we’ll hear about it—over and over and over.

    Now please don’t get me wrong; Valentine’s Day is important. In fact, it often serves as an occasion of recommitment and creates the time and space needed to add a little kindling to the fire. But my wife and I have discovered over the years that it’s the “romance-in-the-trenches” that counts—and nourishes—the most.

    Indeed, it’s the everyday, “anytime, anywhere” loving that you somehow manage to merge with the ordinary domestic routine that keeps you going from one Valentine’s Day to the next.

    It’s the hugs, squeezes and affirmations that occur in between diaper changes, despite the burnt macaroni and cheese, at births, weddings, graduations and funerals, and most especially, “in the middle of a cold, dark night” when you’re bone tired and world weary and all you have is each other to turn to.

    These are The Real Thing, the sparks that ignite and keep the home fires burning year after year. Starland Vocal Band may not have had all the answers, but they were at least headed in the right direction.

    It’s now 2008, and I’ve ditched the aviator frames for small, oval glasses that lend me an air of hipness that I don’t truly deserve. I really don’t have any problems with pimples, and my arms are bigger and stronger. The frizzy “fro” is gone, my hair having long migrated south to my bearded face.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I listen to classic and soft rock while driving around town. Occasionally, “Annie’s Song” will come on, and I’ll turn the volume knob all the way to 11. At stoplights, young men in their tricked out Honda Civics gaze in wonder as a stone age relic transcends the surly bonds of the mundane and passes into audio nirvana.

    But when I sing the words “she fills up my senses,” it’s not Annie’s face that I see.

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