“You say that every year,” she says with a pout.
Ah, my slow brain drags itself from the soup of male forgetfulness.
It’s a tasteful little card with a mug and the words: “You’re my cup of tea.”
Last year when faced with the same scenario, I dashed out from work on a late card mission. And that’s what I do again later, diverting myself from the coffee shop (“Cappuccino man is here”) and scouring the gift shops in this tiny town.
Nothing catches my eye in the first shop, as the cards are too sickly or vaguely smutty. There is a better choice in the next shop where I am not the only panic buyer. I spot a card around the back of another late man. The card that is fine but something in the bargain basket catches my eye.
This is not meanness, honestly, just that I like the look of this card. It is a bright and colourful painting of two people in a garden. One is shyly giving the other a plant. My wife likes gardens, that could be me and her, so bingo. The Valentine’s rescue mission is a winner.
The shop owner is pleased with my choice and tells me that the artist who drew the card lives in Brighton. He does mugs too, the man says, spinning out back to retrieve one to show me. It’s a lovely mug.
The friendly man sees me off with my bargain card and we both seem happy with the purchase. And he seems very pleased that I picked that card.
In the office, I glance at the picture and think, oh, I see. I sign a few words inside, something about it being from her fond forgetful friend, adding that there is a story about this card.
Back home after work, I hand over the late card. My wife opens the envelope and admires the well-chosen card with the colourful painting. Then she says something about there being two men on the front. Ah, the nicest card in the shop was a gay card. One of the men is naked and his manhood is on show.
My wife photographs the card and sends the picture to our daughter, who is with her man for Valentine’s Night. “You can see his willy,” she messages back, adding that she is crying with laughter at her father’s misunderstanding.
“This is the best Valentine’s card ever,” my wife says.
I’m not sure if she is pleased with the card, which truly is tasteful, or with the attached story showing what unobservant twit she married all those years ago. A man who buys cards in a dash without full textural analysis.
“She says we should buy a frame,” my wife says, looking at the latest message from our daughter.
I open the wine and congratulate myself on an accidental success.