Nelson: Valentine’s Day strategies

Jerry Nelson Special to the Farm Forum
Farm Forum

The big day is coming, that day when you are expected to express your undying affection for your Significant Other or run the risk of being frozen to death by the icy atmosphere that will suddenly grip your household.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. For some reason – a reason that’s lost in the aromatic clothes hamper of history – we guys were put in charge of romance. This makes little sense, as guys have a lackluster track record regarding the romantic arts. It’s like putting an accountant in the captain’s chair of a starship. We all know that there’s probably someone else who’s better suited for the job.

One of the best ways to impress your S.O. on Valentine’s Day is to pen an original poem. The key word here is “original.” It’s cheating if you borrow a large portion of your poem as in:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I hope that you like

This pair of old shoes

Also note that this particular poem would only work if the shoes in question are sparkly, ruby-colored slippers that were last worn by a young lady named Dorothy Gale.

It goes without saying that a nice card is an integral part of any Valentine’s Day strategy. Here again, it’s perfectly acceptable to give something that’s homemade. Some might even say that handcrafted is preferable, but others might secretly consider the giver to be a cheapskate.

Be it handmade or purchased at Georgio Armani, the gist of Valentine’s Day cards has remained unchanged since your grade school days. The underlying message is still: “I like you. Do you like me? Circle one: yes or no.”

Flowers are a failsafe tactic that is frequently deployed during this holiday. Valentine’s Day takes place in the dead of winter, which precludes the possibility of wandering out into the woods and coming home with a fistful of thoughtful yet free wildflowers. A person has no choice but to purchase flowers at a retail outlet. I suspect the floral industry may have had something to with the “coincidental” placement of Valentine’s Day at midwinter.

A meal out at a nice restaurant is another “must have” for this holiday. And for most of the ladies, “nice” tends to exclude eateries that include the word “burger” or “Mc” in their names.

I have discovered, through vast personal experience, that jewelry is a “can’t miss” V-Day maneuver. Combine something glittery with a nice meal out and dash of surprise and you have the formula for a very successful Valentine’s Day. This recipe is extremely difficult to execute, but I somehow managed to pull it off one year.

A good deal of forethought was involved. The first step was to find restaurant that was nice yet also had a gumball machine in its lobby.

After identifying the requisite restaurant, I put two bits into the gumball machine and obtained one of its plastic acorns, the kind that contains a small but worthless toy. Next came a visit with a bling dealer. This was followed by a private chat with our two sons, who were grade schoolers at that time.

On Valentine’s Day, the four of us dined at the aforementioned restaurant. After finishing their meals, our boys begged for a quarter to feed to the gumball machine out in the lobby. I could see that they were struggling to hide their excitement over being their dad’s unindicted coconspirators. Thankfully, my wife didn’t notice their smirky smiles.

The boys returned to our table moments later and handed their mother a sealed plastic acorn. “Here, Mom!” they chirped. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

“Thank you, that’s so thoughtful,” said my wife, smiling indulgently. She then began to stow the plastic acorn in her purse.

“No, Mom! Open it, open it!” cheered the boys. Their mother, rolling her eyes ever so slightly, gamely complied.

She was surprised beyond measure when a Black Hills gold necklace tumbled out of the cheap plastic acorn.

“Wow!” exclaimed the boys, still playing their parts. “You’re really lucky, Mom! Can we have another quarter? Maybe there’s more good stuff in the gumball machine!”

My wife, somewhat stunned, began to search her purse for coins. But then she recognized the twinkling eyes and overeager smiles. Liberal portions of kisses and hugs were summarily dispensed.

It was a historic day, one that saw the trifecta of surprise combined with something shiny and a nice meal out. I’ll probably never be able to top that feat.

On the other hand, I’ve been feeling a bit poetic lately. And I think we still have some silver glitter and red construction paper in the hall closet.

If you’d like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at and at booksellers everywhere.