A pal of mine and her fiancé recently went to shop for engagement rings at a prominent Fifth Avenue jeweler. After thoughtfully examining her hand, the sales associate told her there was a problem with her fingers. Apparently, she has what is know as “pudgy undercarriages,” and would require a larger-than-average fitting. My pal, who is tall and athletic and had never thought twice about the relative size of those squishy pads on the undersides of her otherwise lovely fingers, let out a small shriek. This is a bit like embarking on the romantic trip-of-a-lifetime only to be handed a seat-belt extender before the plane has even taken off. Pudgy undercarriages, indeed! I guess it’s true what they say: The course of true love never runs smooth.
Which brings us to Valentine’s Day.
My mum always said Mother’s Day was naff and that we had to be nice to her all year round. No tokenism for Betty Doonan, thank you very much! Betty Doonan had a point: If you are nice to Mum all year round, then the bonbons become superfluous. If, on the other hand, you are not nice to her all year, then that lousy bunch of carnations is little more than a reminder of the putrid thanklessness of her lot.
Maybe I have inherited—along with her great legs and general lack of pudgy undercarriages—a tad too much of Betty Doonan’s irate contrarianism, but I hold many similar views: Valentine’s Day, for example. As Feb. 14 looms, I must confess to experiencing waves of melancholy: I am haunted by the notion of all those beleaguered, underappreciated women being given an egregious item of pre-boxed jewelry and an excessively sentimental card by some bloke. His gaze has returned to the TV screen before she has even had a chance to pin that owl pendant to her work-worn muumuu. Mind if I kill myself?
If you have a fabulous relationship, then Valentine’s Day is very whatever! You have, if you are anything like me and my Jonny, already spent the entire year buying each other random gifts and jamming chocolate-covered strawberries down each other’s throats at every conceivable opportunity. Conversely, if you have a less-than-fab relationship, then Feb. 14 must surely be a terrifying lightning rod, a gruesome reminder of shattered dreams and tear-soaked undercarriages. Non?
To make sure that my ideas on this subject did not reflect some deranged gay prejudice, I called a straight couple—one of the happiest couples in N.Y.C.—to obtain a second opinion. Paging Ruben and Isabel Toledo!
“We love chocolate as much as the next Cubans,” said Ruben, speaking to me by phone last weekend from the very workroom where Michelle Obama’s magical pale-lime Swiss lace Inauguration Day ensemble was created, adding, “but we barely even notice Valentine’s Day.”
“It’s the same with Halloween,” added Isabel, who two weeks earlier went from cognoscenti fashion fave to global phenomenon with millions of Google hits. “We ignore it,” she continued, “because, in fashion, we are always around people who dress up funny or are disguised in some way.” Gracias, Toledos!
Conclusion: For people who are bonkers in love and who demonstrate the fact on an ongoing basis, Valentine’s Day serves no critical function. Those, on the other hand, who have been romantically negligent should probably seize the Hallmark moment, cross their fingers—undercarriages permitting—and hope for the best.
Regarding Hallmark: My Jonny and I only give each other sentimental cards if they are insulting in some perversely sneaky way. I have a drawerful of “for a lovely Grandma” and even Great-Grandma cards that he has sent me over the years. The most memorable missive he ever sent me is a twee floral extravaganza emblazoned with the following disturbing phrase in cursive script:
“I know how trapped you must feel in that traitor of a body of yours …”
I have yet to figure out which section it came from, and Jonny refuses to divulge his sources.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
p.s. Pudgy Undercarriage could well be the name of a WASP-y Palm Beach socialite.