Love for Sale


Source: Queen Bee Coupons, found on the Internet

Ah, Valentines’s day. How hard the loved ones labor over selecting just the right gift. Will it be a testament to love? Or will it be a quick dive into any store, rifle through whatever’s left, then pick whatever isn’t damaged or for an 8-year-old?

I’ve been through this so-called lover’s holiday enough times as a salesperson in Phipp’s to know there’s also been plenty of broken hearts to go along with the wilting roses. My first year as a newly-separated woman was torture. There I was, straightening up the remaining velvet-covered boxes of Russell-Stover chocolates, trying to separate them from the pricier Godiva and Ghirardelli’s, a man, appearing a bit anxious, ran over to me and asked, “Is this all there is? Can you check in the back to see what else you have?”

Without meaning to, I let out an incredulous laugh. “You’re kidding me, right?

His eyebrows furrowed as his glare turned noticeably darker. “NO. I’M. NOT.”

I glanced at my watch, 6:30 pm. My shift had about fifteen minutes left. I don’t need this. “Sir, this is all we have. Brought out what was in the back yesterday. It’s all gone. The Godiva’s nice and has a delicious variety of chocolates. There are a few decent cards left as well. It’s the best I can do.”

The man starts huffing, his chest rising and falling rapidly. I can feel his snorting breath on my face. He edges closer, almost enough to seem threatening. I hold my ground, giving him the most uncaring, over-it look I can manage.

Instead, I walk away, heading towards the row of destroyed kiddie valentines. I toss piles of Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig friend exchange boxes in a shopping cart, destined for the clearance section I’m preparing to set up.

The man snatches a Ghirardelli, takes a cursory glance at the remaining cards, snaps up a giant-sized one of a pug with googly eyes and storms off.

That’s okay, sir, whomever that’s intended for is only going to break up with you sooner or later anyway, I think.

Skip to now. It’s February 15 and I’ve tossed whole sections of Valentine’s Day crap into several carts and dumped them on five shelves. Though I’ve tried to keep the candy segregated from the other stuff, after a few hours it’s all congealed into a homogenized mass of merchandise. You can’t tell one thing from another. Every customer heads back to what remained of the Valentine’s Day section, picking and sorting through all of it, like buzzards to a roadkill.

All this love, these massive piles of thoughtful gifts, now reduced to 75-90% off. How quickly love blossoms and fades, only to be replaced by whatever the fates through at us. Or in this case, Easter. Jelly beans, plastic eggs, grass and baskets, specifically.

There was a time when I’d be devastated if I didn’t have a special love for Valentine’s Day…which pretty much meant every year. It reminded me of what a loser I was. How come all those other people out there managed to find someone? What was I doing wrong? Hey, look at me! I’m worth it!

I’d stroll past gift shops and restaurants, all showing off their lovey-dovey clientele. I wouldn’t be one of them. I’d retreat into my apartment and cry. Loser, loser, such a schloozer. At least Mom would send me a card. Sure, it was nice, but not quite the same as if a man sent it.

After I married, that special Valentine’s Day love wore off too. Sure, the first few years were a big deal. Flowers, cards, chocolates, romance…but that, too, petered out. We got too busy, too tired and with our son around, too involved with his dramas rather than focus on our own. Slowly the love seeped out of our marriage like a leaky septic tank. Didn’t know it was happening until everything kind of backed up and rebelled on the bathroom floor.

I sift through the leftover love treasures. There’s a couple of things I like, but not enough to buy. Sure, I can get a real bargain scarf for 50 cents, even a bag of red M&Ms for 95 cents. But I don’t. I’ll be salvaging this stuff in a few days, anyway.

Maybe there’s a parallel here. Will I salvage my heart? My ability to love someone new? Can I ever trust it to believe whomever I meet might not betray me? Treat me as the alpha and not the beta? I don’t know. Dating doesn’t appeal to me now. I need to heal my own heart before I can win someone’s over, or they have mine for safekeeping.

In the meantime, I give those ninety-five cent M&Ms a second look. They don’t look so bad after all. Perhaps those I’ll take with me. This love is a bargain I can’t pass up.



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