Jerry Nelson: Valentine preparation

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum

There are those who believe that our Valentine’s Day tradition began in 1620 when Rudolph Valentino, weary and bedraggled from his heroic journey to a local shopping mall, stood on Plymouth Rock and, reading from the original Magna Carta, proclaimed, “Every man shall be free to determine the course of his own fate, except on February 14th, when those who have a Significant Other shall be required to purchase a card and/ or flowers and/ or jewelry for their Significant Other. But a card at the very least. So sayeth the Law of Hallmark!”

Others hold that Valentine’s Day can trace its roots to ancient Norway, when a lovelorn young shepherd sent a note to a neighbor girl who was his forbidden paramour. He asked his ladylove to rendezvous with him at a certain hour in a nearby hollow, concluding his tender letter with the immortal words, “I hope you will be at my vale in time.”

Valentine’s Day is the horizon. Millions of Valentine’s cards will be sent during this holiday, putting a tremendous strain on our nation’s strategic reserve of puns.

Tragic news has arrived just in time for this year’s Valentine’s Day. It seems that Necco, makers of the Sweetheart candy hearts, was recently sold. As a result, Sweetheart candies will not be available this year.

This is a disastrous development for those of us who, because of an unlucky twist in our DNA, were born with an overabundance of romantic ineptitude. We’re talking about men, of course; a sector of the population whose romantic skills are approximately the same as those of a houseplant.

Without Sweethearts, how will we guys convey such highly emotional sentiments as “UR Cute” and “Sweet Pea?” What can we tape to the inside of our Valentine’s Day cards instead? A receipt showing the nifty discount we received at the pump with our Gas Saver card? That watch battery we finally found at the bottom of the junk drawer?

I asked my wife about both of those ideas and was given a resounding “No!” See what I mean?

All a guy can do is follow the Boy Scout motto and Be Prepared. I realize that it’s difficult to prepare for something that you don’t understand. It would be like reading a comic book that’s written in Swahili. You may get the general gist of the thing, but many of the nuances are lost.

I recommend that guys use the shotgun approach to Valentine’s Day. And no, I don’t mean purchasing an engraved Browning over-under, even though you might regard this gift as being extremely romantic.

A guy needs to lay in a comprehensive supply of items that have been approved by the Romance Society of America. Items on the RSA list includes such things as candles and flowers and candy (chocolate seems to be a perennial favorite). Romantic music playing softly in the background is vital to setting the proper Valentine mood. But what, exactly, is romantic music? This subject can be highly subjective.

The RSA guidelines suggest avoiding such tunes as “Guitarzan” by Ray Stevens. A more appropriate choice might be “What Say You Meg?” by Sting or anything by Barry White. I hope you get the idea. If so, please fill me in.

I have been married only once, so perhaps I’m not the best person to dole out Valentine’s Day advice. But we’re still married, so maybe I’ve somehow managed to do a few things right.

A sumptuous meal is key to a successful romantic evening. I knew that much even as a young bachelor farmer.

I invited my then-girlfriend out to my dairy farm for our first Valentine’s Day evening together. I spared no effort in preparing for this momentous event. I thoroughly cleaned my farmhouse (by kicking the mess under my bed) and installed romantic lighting (wall socket nightlights).

But there was a major logistical problem. My girlfriend was to arrive at my farm shortly after she got off work, just as I would be finishing evening chores. How could I whip up a romantic meal while keeping company with my Holsteins?

I discovered that my kitchen range had a timer. I popped a couple of frozen pot pies into the oven, set the timer and rushed out to do chores.

When I returned to the house, there was just enough time to get cleaned up and put the food on the table. As we tucked into our piping-hot vittles, my girlfriend asked, “Are these Swanson pot pies?”

“Um… yes?”

“Two for a dollar. Pretty good deal.”

My heart simply melted. I had never heard anything more romantic in my entire life.

Jerry Nelson