Ghosts of Valentine’s Day Past

Phil is driving to work on the morning of February 13th. This will be the 13th Valentine’s Day since he married Jill. The Valentine’s Day before last he had just been laid off so they decided they wouldn’t give each other gifts. They didn’t give each other gifts last Valentine’s Day either. This year he has a job and his finances are in pretty good shape, although he’s being paid about 25% less than the job he lost. This year he wants to give her a gift, or do something special for her. The problem is what to do? When he did try to do something for Valentine’s Day in the past Jill’s reaction was at best indifferent.



Jill shows a postcard she received from her friend Amanda.

“I don’t know if I should go?”

Phil gives the card a perfunctory look. It’s an invitation to a women’s party on February 14th. It seems a good idea to him, a bunch of mothers getting together for a girls night. Their four year old twins have been a handful so Phil thinks it would be a great idea for her to get away from them, and him, for a couple of hours.

“Yea, definitely, go. I think it’s a great idea. The twins and I can get along a couple of hours without you.”


Phil, Jill, and the twins drive up to Amanda’s house. They leave the twins in the car and Phil walks Jill up to the house. As they approach the door Jill’s friend opens the door.

Amanda says excitedly, “You can’t come in Phil, no men in the house.”

Phil tells Jill he’ll be back about 9 o’clock and walks back to the car. Phil thought Amanda was taking this girl’s night a bit too seriously. He assumes she’s one of those people that take their parties seriously. Phil takes the twins to a nearby fast food restaurant. He takes the dinner slow and then buys desserts. When he feels he has loitered as long as he could without making it look as if he’s loitering he leaves. He drives to Amanda’s house and checks the time. It’s 8:30. So there he is waiting in the car with the twins. With nothing to do he decides to actually read the invitation. He reads it’s a “Passion Party” where they will be demonstrating romance items and then the women will individually go to a room where they can purchase their “stash”. Phil realizes he made a big mistake by not reading the invitation when Jill showed it to him.

Jill comes out with a small bag in her hand. She steps into the car and Phil drives towards home.

“I’m sorry I didn’t really read the invitation.”

“It was so embarrassing.”

“What did you get?”

“I just got a couple of candles. You know she did a lot of favors for me and she gets a percentage of what’s sold, so I had to get something.”


Amanda got a divorce a year later. If Amanda was trying to something other than make some extra money it apparently didn’t work.

Phil eats his lunch in the cafeteria. He remembers the cafeteria in his former job. They sold Valentine’s Day gifts in that cafeteria.


Phil sees flower arrangements for sale in the cafeteria. The prices seem a bit steep but it’s convenient. So he picks out the cheapest arrangement they’re selling.


Amanda and her family are over for dinner. Amanda notices the flowers Phil bought Jill for Valentine’s Day are drooping, except for a single rose.

“How come that rose isn’t drooping?”

Jill looks closely at the rose. “It’s fake.” She tugs at the rose and pulls it from the stem. The rose is actually a pair of panties. Amanda and her husband laugh. Phil’s face turns red. Amanda looks down then flashes Phil a look. It’s the kind of look characters in horror movies give to someone who bursts into flames.


Phil’s co-worker Richard pulls up a chair next to Phil.

“Hey Phil, what are you thinking about?”

“I’m just trying to figure out what to do for Valentine’s Day.”

“Jewelry is good.”

“Oh Donald Trump here, jewelry.”

“Well there’s inexpensive jewelry.”

“Not for someone who use to sell jewelry.”

“Flowers or candy then?”

“Maybe, but I’d like it to be special.”

“Special without spending much money. Buy yourself a cheap lamp and rub it. A jinni might come out. You’ve got about as much chance of that happening as you have of getting something cheap and special.”

Phil throws up his hands. “You have a point.”


Phil drives home from work. He passes by a restaurant where he took her and the twins for their 10th Valentine’s Day. Nice looking place but no kids menu. They had to walk out and look for someplace that had something the kids would eat. Everyplace was jammed, except for the fast food places. That was pathetic but wasn’t their worst dinner debacle.


Phil takes a day off from work. He figures with the twins at school he and Jill can have some time together. They drop the twins off at school. Jill remembers they need to buy a couple of items at the grocery store. Then she had to go to the bank to make a withdrawal. Then since they were out they might as well stop off at the post office to get some stamps. Then she decides to go to the department store to buy some clothes for the twins. Phil looks at his watch. There’s barely enough time to have lunch before they have to pick up the twins from school.

Phil takes Jill to a seafood place they hadn’t gone to before. The décor was nice and they had a cozy seat. Phil was happy, but Jill isn’t impressed with the atmosphere. She looks at the menu and whispers to him, “It’s very expensive.”

“It’s OK, just order what you like.”

Jill orders a shellfish platter.

After they leave the restaurant Jill remarks, “The food was too salty.”

That night Jill splits her time between moaning in pain and gagging in the bathroom.


At work Tiffany, a woman in her early 20s, found a bouquet of roses on her desk. Emily, a woman in her late 30s, notices the flowers.

“Who are they from?”

“I don’t know. The note just said a secret admirer.”

Later in the morning the Felicia, Administrative Assistant, receives a bouquet of flowers her boyfriend had delivered to her. Emily sees the flowers and remarks, “That’s very nice. Tiffany also got some flowers from some stalker.”

Tiffany chides from down the hall, “Emily, at what point did the romance go out of your life?”

“At the point where realism came in.”

Jack decides who better to ask than women about what he should get his wife.

“Since you’re all in a romance state of mind I’m trying to figure out what I should do for my wife for Valentine’s Day.”

Felicia suggests, “Tickets for a cruise.”

Emily adds, “Or maybe just one ticket.”

“No, I’m serious. Think budget.”

Tiffany suggests, “Why don’t you pick out something at one of those chic women’s clothing stores?”

Emily adds, “Better yet, get her a gift card from one of those stores. Men have the worst taste in women’s clothing.”

Felicia suggests, “You can always go to dinner and a movie.”

Phil thinks over the suggestions as he works.

Chic women’s clothing – 9th Valentine’s Day – Bought her a green nightgown since she mentioned she would like to have a nightgown just like a woman in a 60s movie was wearing. She didn’t like it because it was made out of polyester.

Gift card from chic women’s clothing story – 7th Valentine’s Day – Said there wasn’t enough money on the card to buy anything in that store. She re-gifted for her sister’s Christmas present.

Movie – 6th Valentine’s Day – Went to see an Action/Fantasy movie. There were about six other people in the theater. It’s one of Phil’s favorite movies but he dare not watch it when Jill is around because she hates it.


It’s 28 minutes before quitting time. Phil has no idea what to do. The supervisor, a man in his 60s, walks out of his office to leave for the day. He stops by Phil’s cubicle.

“Phil, you want to know what to do for your wife? Get a card and some flowers or a box of candy don’t bother to spend much, it’s just to fill a square. Now, the minute you get home start cleaning the house. Stop for dinner then start cleaning again. Keep cleaning until it’s time for you to go to bed.”

The supervisor gives a knowing nod then walks away.


Phil did exactly as his supervisor advised. He hadn’t seen Jill happier in years.


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