Valentine’s Day

Burt Ross

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday.

If you read my column regularly, you already know I believe that Christmas and Hanukkah should be celebrated like Leap Year — once every four years. So you can probably guess what I think of Valentine’s Day. If you guessed not much, then you are correct.

Valentine’s Day is an international conspiracy amongst restaurateurs, florists and candy men to pick our pockets clean. It’s as simple as that.

In my opinion, there is nothing romantic about giving your bride flowers at the very same time every other man on the planet is doing the exact same thing. Give her a gift when it is least expected — that to me is romantic, but what do I know?  

The tradition of Valentine’s Day reminds me of the almost legal requirement that a man give a woman a diamond ring when he proposes marriage — a necessity created by the DeBeers family, which controls the diamond business worldwide. (Forgive me, but most diamond rings look exactly alike to me, so why not give your loved one something different, like a bracelet or necklace?)

Now I do understand that some of you — my loyal readers — might consider me contrary and cheap rather than romantic, that I am trying to game the system or ruin the economy as we know it, but so long as my bride is buying my approach, I am ahead of the game.

There is one thing I do like about Valentine’s Day: it reminds me of how and when I met my bride. I had been married for five years to my first wife almost all during the tumultuous years of my mayoralty. We broke up shortly thereafter, and I was one lonely guy making the dating rounds in 1980 when I first met my bride. I was hosting a fundraiser for the man who beat me in the Democratic primary for Congress, and there she was. I could not take my eyes off of her.

I asked her for a date and she politely declined. She was going with some other guy at the time, but I asked her to get in touch with me if she ever dumped the guy. She said nothing and smiled.

About 18 months later at a New Year’s Eve party, I saw her again, and just like the song says, “Just one look, that’s all it took.” Our eyes met and there was no mistaking the attraction. I asked her if she had dumped the guy yet, and she quietly answered that they were no longer going out. I could not have been happier. 

From that day over 34 years ago to this very day we have been almost inseparable. I think we have been apart on average only one day per year and that includes the two times she gave birth to our children, Kate and Isaac, her sisters’ reunions, my fishing trips with my dad and brother Phil, and my mini vacations with my friend Phil Bellomy of Malibu.

If my bride and I are separated for more than a few hours, we need to talk and share all the things that transpired in our absence. We are blessed to share a chemistry that works. I would like to tell you our love is a product of hard work and genius on my part, but like most things in life, there’s a lot of luck, and I’m a lucky guy.

So if Valentine’s Day makes me think of how fortunate I am, then I guess it’s not such a bad day after all.