Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Skating Through Valentine's Day

Skating Through Valentine’s Day


Wally Lee Parker

            This year I’ve figured out how to skate through Valentine’s Day.  Anne Rice’s newest novel arrives at Barnes & Nobel’s today.  This book, “The Wolf Gift,” is a return to her darker, urban fantasy side.  And it’s her first story about werewolves.  So I reckon a copy of that should keep me out of trouble with the wife.  Sort of like a Valentine’s Day card with fangs.
            I’m not at all the sentimental type you understand - though I’ll begrudgingly admit that “Valentine’s Day” is on my list of favorite movies.  (Not nearly as high up the list as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Love Actually,” or “High Plains Drifter,” but still pretty high.)  I thought Jennifer Garner’s encounter with a heart shaped piñata was an especially meaningful bit of thematic drama.  And every scene with Jessica Beal in it was exceptional – which suggests I find cool competence (when not reduced to a blubbering, chocolate craving mess – and sometimes even then) a very attractive trait in women.  And I’ll also admit that I did suffer a bit from that pesky recurrent dry-eye syndrome when Julia Roberts finally got home to her ‘man.’  In truth I think my tendency to tear up really has more to do with the synthetic-butter vapors rising off those giant tubs of popcorn than anything happening on the screen.  That’s my hypothesis anyway - and I sticking to it.
            I even liked parts of “I Hate Valentine’s Day.”  Mostly the parts where Nia Vardalos was front and center - since she’s usually the best thing about her movies.  And I’ve watched “Letters to Juliet” half a dozen times.  But that really doesn’t mean anything – and it certainly doesn’t mean I have a sentimental streak.  In Juliet’s case I just liked seeing the Italian scenery in Blu-ray.
            But all this makes me wonder.  Do kids learn discretion from watching their dad weep at the movies?  Do kids learn that there are some things we just don’t talk about from watching pop turn away and dab his eyes when Sally and Tom finally get together, finally entwine their fingers while standing face to face on top of the Empire State building?
            I suspect it could be.
            So this Valentine’s Day, with thanks for not letting the cat out of the bag all these years, I’m going to send a Valentine’s card out to my kids.  It’s just the images from a booklet my daughter put together for Father’s Day about 25 years ago.  I have boxes of this stuff from both the kids.  Not that I intended to keep any of it you understand.  I just haven’t got around to throwing it out yet.
            My daughter reminds me a lot of Jessica Beal.  If there’s any meanness in her, I’ve not seen a trace.  She’s emotionally graceful and without a thread of ostentatiousness.  She possesses a strategic intellect – meaning she can plan things out years in advance and actually end up where she intended.  And she seems comfortable with herself – which is the best any parent can hope for.
            As for the boy, Technical Sergeant Parker, Washington Air National Guard – I don’t think he has ever understood why his dad suffers a whiff of that dry-eye syndrome whenever he shows up in his class-A uniform.  Maybe it has something to do with the realization that all those things I admired about my own dad – all those special qualities that seemed to have passed me by – somehow magically found their way into him.  Maybe that’s the reason.
            Not that I’m being sentimental about any of this you understand.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  It’s an obligation.  And it’s this damn dry-eye syndrome.

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