Neither is Bert. And, after some self-reflection, I'm afraid I take some responsibility in the reason Bert doesn't feel the need to be romantic on this day, even though Hallmark deems it necessary.
Valentine's Day never has been a big deal to me. I just never understood all the hype. At least, not since I was 20.....
Bert and I had been dating almost a year. We had been pretty serious since day one. I knew I was in love. I knew he was the one I was going to marry. Why waste any more time??
We both found ways to work the topic of marriage into our conversations. Some hints a little more subtle than others.
Bert: Yeah, my cousin just got engaged the other day. It's crazy to think about, huh? I mean, they've dated a long time, but he's only 23. Do you think that's too young?? I mean, I don't think it's too young. Do you??
Me: NOOOOO! 23 is DEFINITELY a good age. Wait, aren't you 23?? Ummmhmmmm. 23 is GREAT with ME!
Other times it might have been brought up like this...
Me: The realty company needs to know if I plan to renew my lease on the apartment next year. Think we'll be married by then or what??
One sunny day, early in February 2001, Bert asked me while we were eating lunch at Applebee's if I wanted to go for a quick stroll through the mall. I was stunned. He NEVER wanted to go shopping. EVER. Still hates it to this day.
Immediately, I got butterflies in my stomach. I knew why he wanted to go, and I couldn't finish my lunch fast enough. Scarfing down my hamburger, I waved to the waitress and hollered, "Check PLEASE!" I practically skipped through the mall, pretending to window shop. I'm sure we looked a lot like the tiny old lady in my neighborhood, walking her 180 pound purebred Mastiff. Dragging Bert through the mall, I acted surprised when he wanted to step inside the jewelry store. "Oh, I just wanted to look at these bracelets in the window," I lied. "Well, let's go in and look around for a second." Bert then asked the man to size my left ring finger. My heart started pounding harder and harder. "I mean, I was just wondering what size you wear." He said, shrugging his shoulders like it was no big deal.
That afternoon, I tried on every engagement ring in the store. We talked about carat, cut, color, clarity, and what bands looked best. And then, I floated home on a cloud. (Name that movie.) I ran in the door and hollered to my roommate as I called my Momma, to let her know what type of shopping we had been doing. I squealed a bit, then we started talking about dates, as if I were already engaged. We giggled a while, then said our version of "IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouGoodbye!"
As I said, that was early in February. I remember, because I just KNEW Bert Hudson was going to propose to me on Valentine's Day. February 14, 2001 was going to be a monumental day for me. I hot rolled my hair and put on an extra coat of lipstick before heading out the door for work that afternoon. (I was a Customer Service Rep at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center.) Bert called me 27 times, wondering if I could get off work early. I had blabbed to my girlfriend and co-worker, Barbara Ann, that we had gone ring shopping, and he was calling a bunch to see if I could come home early, so I just knew, like really, really knew he was going to propose.
It came time for our manager to cut the extra people. Normally, I wanted to stay late, since I was paid hourly, but this time I jumped at the chance to go. Rushing home, I fluffed my hair and added more lip gloss. Bert was waiting for me in his truck, outside my apartment. I ran in and changed into a light pink sweater and cute gray pants. I had picked the outfit out that morning, since it was going to be my engagement day outfit. I hopped in his truck and blurted out, "WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME???" Bert motioned towards the back seat, where a to-go bag from McAlister's Deli was sitting. My enthusiasm wasn't curbed one bit.
We headed out towards a nearby park, where there are a few cliffs and lots of beautiful scenery. Bert parked the truck, close to one of those cliffs, and grabbed our picnic dinner. We ate our take-out, sitting on a blanket on the tail gate, and watched as the sun began to settle into a fluffy pink blanket of clouds. Afraid Bert was losing his nerve, I decided to get the ball rolling...
Me: Wow. That sunset is amazing.
Bert (sipping on his sweet tea): Yep.
Me: Like, really amazing. It's so warm today too. Almost like Spring. I love it.
Me (wondering why in the world he hasn't yet gotten down on one knee): YEP.
We continued eating, and chatting a little about work and school and the future. Bert was the one who brought up the future, so I just KNEW this was the segue into his proposal. Okay, so it was the future as in, "Yeah, I'll be happy when I'm finally done with school and won't have to study so much anymore." but still, it was future talk, so here we go....
Only, he never did put his hand in his jeans pocket. He did finally hop down off the tail gate. So, I sat up straight, flinging my hair over my shoulder. He bent down. So, I grinned ear to ear. Then he stood back up and handed me a dandelion. A weed. Like a brat, I sighed loudly. Bert tucked the dumb dandelion behind my ear, then leaned in for a kiss. I turned my head away from his, and heard my tone turn sharp, though I didn't really mean for it to, "Is that all??" the words just slipped out. Bert pulled back, surprised to hear me whine. He laughed then said, "You must not have seen what I left for you in the kitchen."
In my hurry to get engaged, I ran through the kitchen and never noticed the cute little monkey and roses sitting on the counter.
As we cleaned up our picnic, doubt set in. Maybe he wasn't going to propose. But, the night was still young... Bert suggested we stop by the video store. Driving along in the truck, I stared at his pocket in the dark. Definitely no bulge. As we walked around the video store I began to sulk. He really wasn't going to propose. He held up an array of chick flicks, since after all, it was Valentine's Day, and all I could do was pout.
What a BRAT!!
I don't remember much else about that night. I'm sure I fell asleep before the movie was over, as I still do. And I'm sure I did a pitiful job trying to hide my disappointment over the fact that I wouldn't be sporting a new diamond to class the next morning. I never came out and told Bert why I was being such a brat, I just kept pouting.
At the time, being a spoiled rotten 20 year old, it never dawned on me that Bert might have to save up for a few months before he could buy a diamond ring. Because, don't all college students have a few thousand bucks just lying around?? I'm so embarrassed at how immature I was. I can't believe Bert stuck it out and continued dating me. I certainly didn't deserve him. I was a love sick college kid, and wanted so badly to be MRS. ROBERT HUDSON.
So, this post is dedicated to you, BERT HUDSON. Ten years late, but I'm sorry I was such a brat on Valentine's Day, 2001. I'm still just as smitten with you now, as I was then. And if you had actually proposed that night, I (obviously) would have said yes. But, it wouldn't have been as sweet (or original) as your actual proposal was. And if given the chance, I wouldn't change a thing.
I love you. Will you be my Valentine??
However, ten years later, my idea of a romantic Valentine's Day has changed drastically. Please don't waste hard earned money on flowers that are just going to die, or chocolates that I obviously can't resist, and don't need. Just clean the kitchen after dinner. Ohhh, yeah baby, now that's HOT!
Happy Balentime's Day, Big Poppa.
Love Always, Big Momma