Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

A Mother’s Gift, Valentine’s Day Edition

14 Feb


Usually, Valentine’s Day is for lovers, crushes and children coerced into dropping adorable cards, assembled by their mothers the night prior, into some poorly executed glue-damp decoupage shoebox assembled in home room. However, my mother was not usual. A friend once described her as being the woman to whom ALL drag queens aspired. She was over-the-top and wildly inappropriate when it came to boundaries. As I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I noticed that the other mothers taught their children to exercise caution and to look out for Atlanta’s Child Killer. However, my mother was teaching, “A stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met yet.” She was also given to blurting out missives, in front of my friends, like, “This song makes you want to lay down on the floor in a dark room…alone!” I sense her ghostly swoon every time I hear Squeeze’s “Black Coffee in Bed”.


To this day, I still don’t know why the coolest and cutest boy I knew at age 15 was with me after school when I walked in our backdoor on Valentine’s Day 1986. Mother was standing at the kitchen counter, Eve 120 ciggie in hand, next to her Valentine goodie to me: a saucy heart-shaped box fixed by a giant crimson metallic bow. I was horrified, knowing that the odds of it containing something mortifying were sky-high. To her credit, Mother didn’t know I’d have that boy with me, either.  But still, she urged me to open her gift. When I lifted the box, the lack of heft signaled it wasn’t chocolate. I should have stopped right then.  I didn’t. Beneath pages and pages of pink and white tissue was a shiny red satin and lace teddy. Like, something they whore on Knots Landing. As Mother proudly announced to us that, “Every woman should get lingerie from Cupid,” I worried what I’d really be getting was a loose “reputation”. I mean, whose mother gives her 15-year-old daughter something that has a snapping crotch?  Um, that’d be mine. As it turned out, I don’t think that boy ever disclosed to anyone what he saw that day. So, instead of lasting embarassment, I got… mystery. Though we never dated, he never looked at me the same way again. He probably wondered if I was always sporting trashy Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie beneath ripped jeans and a Hüsker Dü t-shirt. I morphed into a sort of obvious curiosity that day. And I am still totally cool with that.

Finally feeling the love

14 Feb

Stores have been festooned in pink and red since December 26th.  Hearts, balloons and kissy prints have been everywhere.  Yes, it’s Valentime again.  A younger Hot Damn had no love for Valentine’s Day.  Every year it seemed like a mocking reminder that I hadn’t peaked yet.

When I was in elementary school, administrators and teachers had yet to adopt the culture of participation trophies and the belief that all children are special snowflakes.  Thus, birthday party invitations were still subjective and no one was forced into making a Valentine for anyone they didn’t want to.  Well, you can see where I am going with this.  My tissue paper and sticker emblazoned shoebox was never the one that was overflowing with love notes and chalky heart candy by the last bell.  I’m sure it mostly had to do with the gawd-awful Sandy Duncan style pixie haircut that my mother insisted was “just daaahling”, and nothing to do with my winning charms.

By my middle school years, the ritual of exchanging cards and candies halted.  Then, as a high school freshman I discovered a whole new level Valenshame.  

Over-confident and sexually ambitious teens annually organized some sort of school-sanctioned fund-raiser that involved j.v. cheerleaders sitting at a table and  selling carnations for $1 to other students.  They came in three colors: red for smokin’-hot ninth grade romance, pink for crushes and white for “I don’t like you in that way”.  The flower would be delivered to the object of one’s affection during classes throughout the day on February 14.  You could attach a personal note.  Sounds harmless, right?  Ugh.  This was just a new, more obvious posture in the contest for popularity.  And the celebrated teens would schlep their growing bundle of dyed flowers around school with them, to every class, even to lunch, all day long.  For those of us who received a white carnation or two, sent by a friend as a gesture of solidarity, it was a dilemma.  Did you proudly tote what amounted to your boutonnière with you, so that you didn’t look totally unloved, or did you gingerly put your carnations in your locker because they looked like a pittance?  Oh, and there was always that one poor sad sack who would be exposed for boosting her numbers by sending several to herself anonymously.  Bad move. 

By college, I made a habit of dating the sort of really cool guys who conveniently liked to break up right around the second week of December, who then later wanted to come sniffing around again after February 15th.

And in the work world?   The competition for the ultimate love trophy went off the chain.  There was no prouder receptionist than the one with the biggest delivered floral arrangement by clock punch time.  The secretary pool looked like a funeral parlor, but all the women were beaming from the outward display of love.  It was high school on steroids.  

Big Daddy and I had been dating about 2 months when faced with our first Valentine’s Day together.  A couple of days before the V-day, he told me to “wear something really nice” on the 14th  because we were going out for a fancy date.  He was very mysterious about the whole thing.  I was giddy about finally participating in the Valentine’s Day of my dreams.  I knocked off work a little early, got my nails did and put on my best LBD, stockings, heels…the whole thing.   Big Daddy picked me up and took me to dinner at…drum-roll…my favorite Indian restaurant.  I had averaged eating there about once a week from the time I was thirteen.  I loved that place, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  It wasn’t out of the box.  And it certainly wasn’t fancy.  It turns out that Big Daddy didn’t think he would need to call and get a dinner reservation more that two hours before our ETA at any upscale eatery on the most dined out night of the year.   Even the Waffle House near us takes reservations on Valentine’s Day.  Hand to God.  As it turns out, before he landed Hot Damn, Big Daddy was the kind of guy who didn’t do Valentine’s Day.  Oh, well.  The vindaloo was good.

So what sort of gifts were exchanged?  I had searched high and low and bought an antique set of poker chips.  Because I knew Big Daddy liked to play cards, I thought that it showed that 1.) I knew his interests 2.) I put thought into an atypical gift; I wasn’t just dialing it in and 3.) That there was a bit of work involved in expressing my luv.  Big Daddy, it seemed, was hoping to convey the same.  Instead of just picking up a heart-shaped Whitman sampler or a roadside dozen of long-stems, he picked up the phone and asked his sister for advice.  It was a smart move, except that she didn’t really know me.  Through her connections, she was able to hook Big Daddy up with really great seats to Grease: the musical.  Does anyone remember this post?  I put on my best excited face.  A musical?  Does he even know me?  But the truth is that it was the best Valentine’s Day despite the dinner not being over-the-top or that I got a gift that I was dreading having to cash in.  I was with someone who I knew loved me.  But then there was our second Valentine’s Day… 

Big Daddy and I were married on 17 February 1996.  I wanted to be married during the winter, but I am Episcopalian and no weddings are performed during Lent.  Big Daddy is a manly man and believed that no weddings should be performed during play-off season or March Madness.  Given the e.t.a of my dress, it was going to have to be shoehorned in with Valentine’s Day.  On the 14th, I arose with brightness and cheer.  Because so much was happening in the next few days, I kept it simple with a CD, card and yummy meal.  Big Daddy kept it simple too.  He coughed up simply nothing.  W? T? F?  I kinda went bat-shit.  Nothing.  Seriously?  He reasoned that he was giving me himself in three days.  Yes, in three days I was going to be turning myself over to a man who thought that he was gift enough.  Does he even know me? I went Diary of a Mad Black Woman on him.  But don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to go in another direction and go Silence of the Lambs instead.  Ultimately, I would have looked stupid in a man suit.  I considered postponing the wedding to a less clashy date.  I might have done it if people weren’t flying in from all corners of the world.  It never occurred to me that by getting married I would have to forfeit the showiest day of romantic goo known in a calendar year.  Forever.  Oh, the disappointment!  The tears!  And maybe a slammed door.  Or two.  

This week we will celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, which means it will also be our eighteenth Valentine’s Day together.  I am pleased to report that not a bare Valentine’s Day has passed again.  Sometimes there’s a grand gesture, like a shiny bauble or a sterling trinket box.  Or maybe it’s more practical, like speakers for my iPod.   There have been no more tickets to musicals, but there have been tickets to see Ben Folds.  We don’t even pretend about fancy dinners on actual Valentine’s Day anymore.   Tonight we will celebrate our love by going to Hot Tub’s basketball game at 7:45 and listening to Snakebite protest about having to go.  Tomorrow night we will go out to a yummy dinner with friends.

I think he finally knows me.

Donnell Rawlings

4 Feb

Yesterday was the first Thursday in February and do you know what that means?  If you guessed it was the start of the Atlanta Apparel Market, that sleet fell at my house or that one of my kids had to leave school early because of the throw-ups, you would be right, but missing the mark.  It’s the night when I find out who the new host is at The Laughing Skull Lounge.  Drum roll please….

Hostess with the mostest, Shalewa Sharpe

Neighborhood Viagra, Shalewa Sharpe, is on it.  I first introduced you to Shalewa here.  Big Daddy was with me at this show and can you believe that some years ago he said this to me: “Meh, I just don’t think that chick comics can be all that funny, that’s all.”  Ugh.  I hear a few men say this, and I think it’s a fear of hearing someone retell adorable, endearing stories about how their kids say the darndest things or a bunch of “didja ever notice” musings about how their lady parts are no longer mysterious nor fancy.  Shalewa is not like other girls if that is your idea of a female comic.  In fact, she’s more like hanging out with a 14 year-old boy.  Because of the nature of the unannounced, revolving door of headliner opening acts, I’d make a point to get down to the Skull this month, just to bask in her glow for certain.

Dan Weeks; not a problem drinker

Have you ever thought that there may be inappropriate times to bust a High Five out on someone?  Snap shirt and bottom button challenged Dan Weeks has confirmed that there are actually several times when this is not the way to go.  Turns out it’s also not a great idea to dry hump a cop’s leg.  Go figure.  Dan does what I am sure is a faithful reimagining of down time of the set of PBS’ The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.  Dan doesn’t have the white-man fro, but he’s got the same crunchy-clean look as Ross, so it’s alarming when he starts ranting.  This was our first time seeing Dan and I thought he was terrific.  Dan…where’s that George you promised?

Patton Smith

Patton Smith showed up last night, too.  I first saw Patton a couple of years ago when he opened for Jennifer Coolidge and he’s taken off since then.  Patton watches a lot of TV and likes to talk about it.  Whereas I watch crap reality shows, he is more into history-based movies and documentaries, so his recaps are far more highbrow and informative than mine.  Patton is man enough to admit that he looks forward to showers at his girlfriend’s apartments, when he can exfoliate, rub himself down with a pink loofa and emerge in a manly haze of raspberry deliciousness.  He didn’t cop to it, but I suspect that he also reads all of her InStyle and Cosmo mags.

Parenting guru Marshall Chiles

Classically trained comedian, Marshall Chiles, did his thing, too.  I have actually known Marshall for about twenty years and I experience his sets a little differently from the rest of the audience.  When I see other comedians, I know that a lot of their act is padded with imaginary details.  However, when Marshall says that he is going to teach his sons about the birds and bees by directing them to his favorites folder on his computer, I know it’s probably already happened.  It’s not often that Marshall gives the dirt on some of his celebrity encounters, but he riffed on a weekend with Tracy Morgan that confirmed every bat crap thing that I thought about him.  Tracy, not Marshall.  Hilar!

Hot Damn and Donnell

Donnell Rawlings is listed in Urban Dictionary for coining the acronym TITF, which stands for Take It in The Face.  You can actually buy mugs, t-shirts and magnets with this on it.  And how many times have you heard someone yell “I’m rich, Biiatch!”  Yeah, that’s Donnell, too.  Oh, and let’s don’t forget about Chappell show favorite, Ashy Larry.  Also Donnell.  I must say that I was apathetic in what I was expecting out of fear that Donnell would be one of those comedians who coasts along on the coattails of a former win.  See y’all, this is why having low expectations is always the best way to go.  He was, like, Tony the Tiger Grr-r-eat!, with not so much as a nod to his previous hit-makers; I was double blown away!  He is the Donnell want, but it’s different, too.  He did talk to us a little bit about just scratching comedy and starting a new career in porn.  If his prop was at all correct, it could work out, but he’d be missed here.

Rawlings is often chastised as being that racist, homophobic comedian.  WTF?  We were in Midtown, geographically rife with gay material and he had next to nothing on the subject, AND everyone knows black people can’t be racist, anyway.  Right?  Okay, so yes, Donnell did sling out the “n word”, don’t make me type it…I’m white and my comfort level just isn’t there yet, a lot.  And with bravado and volume.  But the result was that it desensitized the audience and got it out of the way so that we could be past that he’s black and some of us were not.  It worked.  The audience was a mixed bag, and not a single “Oh no he di’int” was heard.  No one squirmed either.  That is racial harmony, my friends.

It is Black History Month and Donnell provided what are essentially some racial public service announcements.  Being Whitey, I finally know just what the race card is (I am pretty jealous that I can’t get one), why serial killers have cool names, who really got the demonstration permits for Dr. King and the social context and implication behind the question “Where my niggers at?” in 1960 vs. 2011.

What really impressed me is how much thought Donnell is putting into Valentine’s Day this year.  He is clearly super romantic and he knows that there are certain, special gifts earmarked for this day of celebrating love with his lady.  I think that if he is seriously thinking about a career switch, all of his sensual knowledge could be channeled into becoming a Passion Party consultant.  Donnell is well versed in personal massagers, extending battery life and thinking outside of the box when it comes to consensual role-play.  After all, this is the year of the rabbit.