“Happy Valentine’s,” he said, with a sweet smile on his face.
They’d only been dating two months, but both of them had felt a strong connection, a sense that this romance could lead to something more than kisses and cozy strolls along the Charles River.
But now, this: a soft warm fuzzy gray scarf. Joyce held it out with her index finger and thumb.
“But I’m a vegetarian,” Joyce protested. “I don’t eat meat. I don’t wear fur.”
“It’s not ‘fur,’” he insisted. “It’s rabbit!”
Although Joyce knew their romance was over at that instant, she’d been raised well, so she threw the offensive present into her purse while reaching for her small wrapped box that had sunk to the bottom, as if it knew it was doomed, or that at the very least, that love was impossible between new age her and too aged him.
When they first met, Joyce struggled with the fact that Dirk was almost a decade older than she. After all, what’s age got to do with it, she had chuckled to herself, purposely misquoting Tina Turner. So Joyce ignored the small signs of age difference, like the fact that he still read newspapers in print, and that he called his neighbor “Mr. Brown,” instead of Ted.
She ignored Dirk’s shock on their third date when Joyce explained to him that she worked from home two days out of five (“but how do they know you’re really working?” he asked). He was more shocked when she invited him up to her bedroom that same third date. Joyce saw the distrust in his eyes, wondering if she was so forward with all the guys she dated.
Of course, she’d never tell him that she had waited one date longer than usual.
Unenthusiastically, Joyce now gave Dirk her Valentine’s offering, sure that she’d just wasted a perfect present on an imperfect man.
Expecting a surprised grin when he unwrapped it, instead Joyce received a doleful expression of distaste tinged with regret.
A grooming kit? his raised eyebrow seemed to ask. An eyebrow so overgrown, Joyce was sure he’d appreciate this practical as well as thoughtful present.
“Great for ear hair, too,” Joyce admitted.
They parted that evening with everything left unsaid, but the next morning, fiery red tulips waited at Joyce’s door. That evening, Dirk presented her with an engagement ring so big she had to replace all of her winter gloves that no longer fit over her diamonded finger.
At that moment, she decided that age and bad gifts had nothing to do with love, and answered YES.
And Dirk’s ear hair?
Joyce trims it the third Tuesday of every month.
MAY LOVE HAVE EVERTHING TO DO WITH IT. HAPPY VALENTINE’S, MY FRIENDS.