Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers and some people don’t like it
…and other lessons I learn before 8:30 am.
In an affluent neighborhood of London with absolutely zero fast food or greasy spoon options, I waited in line at a small deli for the fifth best hangover cure: a bagel and cream cheese.
As my bagel was toasting, the man behind the counter asked if I’d received flowers yet. I told him I hadn’t, but it was still early. There was still time to receive flowers. (Update: I did receive flowers. Everyone can go about their business as normal now.)
He then went on to say in his thick Eastern European accent, “I was in the shop across the road. The one with the cards? And you know what I saw?”
“All those cards! Valentine’s cards! And you know what one said?”
He leaned across the counter. I leaned forward. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it seemed like he was going to tell me something in a hushed voice. Maybe this older gentleman was shocked by a saucy message he had read in one of the cards. I don’t know. My imagination was in overdrive.
He continued, “It said, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day…Grandma!’ Grandma! Can you believe it?”
I laughed, “Well, yes, I can believe it because in America we send cards to everybody for Valentine’s Day. I guess people are starting to do that over here too.”
He shook his head. “Ridiculous. How can your grandma be your lover?”
“But that’s the thing. We don’t just send cards to romantic partners. We send them to everyone–parents, grandchildren, sisters, friends.”
“It’s commercialism! It’s all wrong!” he said as he took my bagel out of the toaster. While he smeared cream cheese on the top, he muttered, “Grandma is not a lover.”
The butcher called out, “Don’t mind him. He’s a heartless bastard.”
The deli man looked at the butcher and then at me. He grabbed a knife and drew a heart in the cream cheese.
“There,” he said, passing me the bagel. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
As I walked out, I heard him say to the butcher, “Today is for lovers. Not for grandma. The world is a very strange place.”