“Crap, I completely forgot!”, Marco exclaimed as he sprang from his bed and changed out of his pajamas. He donned his sweater and sweatpants and immediately left his apartment, briefly locking the door behind him. He ran outside, quickly started his car, and drove off. “Julia is going to kill me!”, Marco said to himself as he drove onto the freeway.
It was Valentine’s Day. The weather was unusually warmer than usual but quite windy. Marco began to calm down and took in his surroundings. The snow left from last week’s blizzard was starting to melt away and the sun was out. The bare trees looked gorgeous as the snow started dripping off the branches. However, with the heavy traffic in front of him, this weather did not stop his road rage from dominating him. “Come on, you morons! I have places to be!”, Marco cried out as he honked his horn in frustration and started uttering obscenities. To his own luck, the traffic remained until he arrived at his destination. “The light is green, what are you doing?! MOVE YOUR CARS!”, Marco said with indignance.
After about an hour, Marco finally arrived at the shopping center. He swiftly parked his car in the lot and dashed over to the flower shop. “I have to get something for Julia for Valentine’s Day and I don’t have much time”, Marco said to himself as he searched around the flower shop. Sure enough, it was too late for Marco. The flower shop had been sold out of roses and carnations. The only flowers remaining were daisies and tulips, both of which Julia was highly allergic to. He practically begged the cashier to see if they had roses or carnations, but to no avail. “Dammit, dammit, dammit!”, Marco repeated to himself as he left the flower shop. “I will have to try the chocolaterie instead”.
When he entered the chocolaterie, he browsed the shelves for his girlfriend’s favorite chocolate-but no luck. The only chocolate remaining was coconut and dark chocolate, which were Julia’s least favorite flavors. The cashier confirmed that they ran out of caramel and milk chocolate. At this point, Marco was practically red with frustration. “Okay, I just have to calm down”, Marco said to himself. “Valentine’s Day is a day of love, not a day of feeling pressured”.
He left the chocolatiere and resorted to getting the most simplistic gift he could find. He entered the convenience store and instantly started searching for gift cards. Eventually, he found a $50 gift card to a trending video game store. “This is perfect! Julia loves video games. Valentine’s Day is saved!”, said Marco placidly as he took the gift card off the shelf and waited on line. Only 2 people in front of him. One person was on the phone with her son. “I can’t attend to you right now, honey. Daddy will be very angry if I don’t get him a gift today”, said the woman. Her son could be heard crying on the phone, but the mother kept insisting, “I can’t right now, I’m next on line. Have Daddy help you with whatever you need”. The woman hung up soon after and started growing a tad bit irate. Nonetheless, Marco was pleased he found a gift for Julia and when it was his turn, he paid for the gift card and went home.
After taking a thorough shower and preparing his hair, Marco put on his nicest suit jacket and drove off to Julia’s house. He checked his pockets, ensuring he remembered his gift card. However, Marco was not looking where he was going and the next thing he knew, he tripped and fell right into a puddle of melted snow. Fortunately, his suit didn’t get dirty, but his face was covered in dirt. He tried to wipe the dirt off his face, even putting his bare hands in the snow to wipe on his face. While most of the dirt came off, some of it did not and, as Marco walked up to his girlfriend’s house, her neighbors stared on the glob of dirt on Marco’s face. Marco, however, remained tranquil.
Marco rang Julia’s doorbell and Julia emerged in an attractive negligee, red pumps, and smooth silky hair. Marco’s eyes began to widen and his heart skipped a beat. “Hi Marco. Happy Valentine’s Day!”, she said endearingly as she moved in to embrace Marco. As they kissed, all Marco could smell was the sweet scent of her perfume. “Come inside. It’s a bit chilly out”, said Julia as she took Marco’s hand and went inside. “Good, she hasn’t noticed the dirt on my face yet”. Marco said to himself.
“I’ll be right back, just wait here”, said Julia as she went upstairs to get Marco’s gift. All the while, Marco continued to wipe his face, sneaking into the kitchen and using Julia’s paper towels. While more of the dirt came off, a small smudge of dirt still remained near his mouth. Soon after, Julia came downstairs with a giant box of chocolate. “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey! I got the biggest box of caramel chocolate they had. I know it’s your favorite”. Marco grew elated, but also a bit guilty. “Thank you so much. Aww, but you didn’t have to”. Now, Marco felt pressured to present his Valentine’s Day gift. “Unfortunately, the best I could get you was this gift card. I know you like video games, so I hope you like it.”
“Aww, you’re so sweet, Marco. Aww, Happy Valentine’s Day honey”, Julia said as they kissed again. She then took the gift card and looked at it. Suddenly, her expression became perplexed. “Not for nothing, honey”, she said to Marco, “but is this gift card expired?”. Marco grew stunned and swiped the card away from Julia, taking a look at it. Sure enough, the card had expired last month! However, Marco did not want to disappoint Julia. “No, the card should still work. Perhaps the store made a mistake”. Julia nervously giggled and said, “It’s okay, you don’t need to make up stories, honey”. “I’m not making up stories”, replied Marco with a similar nervous expression. “Yes you are. Look at the date. January 2022. Which means it expired. Are you calling me a liar?!”
Marco tried to make amends, explaining to Julia the events of his morning. “Oh, you’re so full of crap!”, Julia snapped back. “You probably bought a nice box of chocolate and didn’t have the courtesy to save some for your girlfriend!”. Marco denied her claim, but Julia only grew more irate, “Yes you did! Look, the chocolate is all over your face!”, she said, pointing to the dirt stain around Marco’s mouth. “No, honey, that’s not chocolate”, Marco said, chuckling, “I kind of… fell in a puddle of dirt as I was walking to your house”. “Oh, give me a freaking break!”, said Julia. “Admit it. You were just too stingy to buy your own girlfriend a real gift for Valentine’s Day. You lying little bastard!”
Finally, Marco lashed out, “What the hell does it even matter whether I got you a gift today?! Love is love. A holiday is a holiday. What makes Valentine’s Day any more special than any other day in our relationship?!”. Julia grew speechless. “Well, you know…it’s Valentine’s Day…”, she replied, even more perplexed. “And what does that mean? You’re going to take the side of a pathetic commercialized holiday over your boyfriend?! Today is nothing more than an excuse for companies to make money, don’t you understand that?! Gifts don’t show feelings; admiration and personality do. But I guess you’re too indoctrinated by capitalism and business to realize that. Have a good night!”. Marco grabbed his belongings and left Julia’s house.
Before Marco could make it to his car, he saw a woman rushing towards her: it was Julia. She pulled Marco away from his car and gave him a passionate kiss right next to his dirt stain. “Honey, please forgive me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Valentine’s Day is meaningless. Our relationship should be just as meaningful today as any other”. Marco smiled and kissed her once more and spoke at last, “That’s okay, honey. Come on, let’s take a trip together. Out to the hills, away from any shopping center. Let’s have true love together”. Julia nodded her head in agreement and they both hopped in Marco’s car. “Happy perfectly normal Monday, Julia!”, said Marco softly. “You too Marco”, replied Julia, giggling as they drove off into the sunset…wherever the roads may take them.