I feel the need

I feel the need

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Story about a Valentine's Day hero : 1991

Happy Valentine's Day!

There, we got that out of the way.  Don't let the fact that I write romances fool you:  I LOATHE Valentine's Day.  I have always loathed it.  I have several very solid reasons why and NONE of them involve a younger, bitter version of me sitting on my couch eating ice cream from the carton and watching sad movies.  I don't do that on Valentine's Day.  I do it almost every other day of the year, sure...but not on Valentine's Day.

Here are my reasons for disliking this stupid made up day:

1)  You just got over the pressure of having the "BEST THANKSGIVING" and the "BEST CHRISTMAS EVER" you spend a month shoveling snow and now you're expected to crap out ANOTHER "BEST WHATEVER EVER?"

2)  If you need an actual day to force your partner into admitting he/she loves you...you may want to take a look at your relationship.  I'm just sayin'.

3)  I've always had a significant other for Valentine's Day.  Seriously.  Since I was about 14 I've never been dateless for Valentine's Day.  That said, I think it's rude for the entire planet to celebrate a big honkin' romantic day and rub it in the face of those who are miserable and alone.  They know who they are.  We shouldn't need to paste a gigantic sign on them once a year.

4)  "You have to bring valentine's cards for the entire class."  Enough said. 

Those are valid points, I'm sure you agree.  However, I am not a heartless piece of stone, regardless of what my children will have you think.  I am a romantic.  Big time.  I know almost every lyric Barry Manilow ever wrote by heart.  I've watched "PS I LOVE YOU" about a dozen times.  I dream of John Cusack holding up a boom box outside my window.  I use candles as a primary source of light in my office when I'm writing. 

Oh yeah:  I'm writing a romance novel!

I think my relationship with Valentine's Day can be summed up in the story I'm about to tell you.  So sit back, grab a heart shaped box of chocolates and enjoy!

The first year we were married, 1990-91, Hubby and I didn't have a lot of money.  (We had more than we have now however...)  He was a parochial school teacher, and he worked across the parking lot from the house we lived in.  I worked as a data entry clerk five miles from home.  To save money, we had one car, which I used during the work week.

That first Valentine's Day we agreed, as we have every year since, that we weren't doing anything for each other.  However, my husband and a gigantic romantic  (eat your hearts out, ladies, he's all mine!)  and I sensed the morning of Feb 14 that he might want to surprise me.

I did not want to look like the schnook on our first Valentine's Day together.

I figured I'd get a card at least.  I left for work early that morning, and took the back roads so that I would pass by my favorite grocery store on the way to work.  (Yes, I have favorite grocery stores.)  It had snowed the night before, but nothing serious.  The biggest snow of the season was long since cleared to the sides of the roads.

Driving our shiny new 1990 WHITE Honda Accord, I set out to get the card and get to work.  About halfway there, I hit a patch of what we in the Northern States know as "black ice."  This is an ice patch you simply cannot see, day or night.  I hit it, and started spinning.  Since I was on a two lane county road, I was spinning into oncoming traffic.

Those who don't believe in a God or Angels have never spun out of control into oncoming traffic.  I was helpless to do much of anything, since it all happened so fast.  I spun once, twice, three times, careened back to my side of the road, and wound up in a ditch, smacking my car into two trees.  One was directly next to the drivers' side door, so I couldn't get out of the car that way.  The other, a much larger tree, I hit first with the passenger side rear bumper and then again with the back of the car. 

There was a horrifying shattering sound then it was silent.  I opened my eyes in silence, realizing  a couple of things right away.

1)  I was unhurt.

2)  I couldn't get out of my side of the car.

3)  I didn't want to look at the rear window, which I was convinced was shattered.

But look I did, and the rear window was intact.  The shattering sound was the pile of change I keep in the dashboard ashtray flying all over the car on impact. 

Amazed that I wasn't dead or worse, I got exited the car out the passenger's door and directly into hip deep snow.  (Remember, I'm in office clothes.  A skirt, dress shoes, nylons....)

Since my first cell phone was roughly seven years away, I had to go door to door to find someone home to call Hubby.  Since I was on a county road, this involved significant walking.  I finally found someone home, and I called the school where Hubby taught. 

Remember, we only had one car.  And that car was sitting in hip deep snow.

He borrowed another teacher's car and got to the accident site in about 15 minutes.  Not one single car passed me in that time.  It didn't take much for him to drive the car out of the ditch.  He asked me if I wanted to go to work or go home.  I felt fine, and I wasn't hurt, so I wasn't about to miss a day of work.  (I have always had this sick need to go to work no matter what.)  So I got back in the car and headed on.  I did NOT get the card.

When I got to work, I was almost half an hour late, so I stopped at my boss's office and let him know what happened.  Dave was a good boss to work for.  He was a fun guy who knew what he was doing and was very gentle in all things.  I haven't worked for anyone that good since.  I really liked working for him.  Anyway, he took one look at me, my nylons were still wet, and asked if I was okay.

"I'm fine."

So I went to my desk.  I turned on my computer, picked up the work in my in box, and sat down.

And immediately began to cry.

You know that kind of crying that's sort of silent at first and then kind of explodes into a full body shake, but you can't breath because if you do you'll make a noise so loud and horse like you'll scare small children, woodland creatures, and your office mate?

Yeah, that.

After sobbing at my desk for about five minutes, I turned off my computer, put all my work back into my in basket, stood up and went to my boss's office.

Still sobbing.


Dave was a very sympathetic guy.  "You want to go home?"

I nodded because, well, tears and snot were running down my face and I would've gotten a mouthful had I opened up.  Plus I was still holding back that really awful sobbing noise.

"Are you okay to drive?"


If you can picture a small child in some horror film coming face to face with the monster, that was sort of my response.

Let me put this all into perspective.  It's a Monday.  It's the morning.  We're busy doing what...we do.  And I'm in my boss's office basically asking him to take and hour, and drive my car and me home.  Which means someone else has to take time and follow him so Dave has a ride back to work.

And he did it. 

I am so sorry to say I don't remember the name of the man who followed us.  I can still see him, though.  He followed Dave driving my car.  They drove me all the way back home, made sure I was in my house safely and went back to work.

Dave told me later that they drove by the accident site.  I'd missed hitting an electrical transformer box  (You know, one of those things that has all the "HIGH VOLTAGE KEEP AWAY" signs on them?)  by about two feet.  He told me that if a SCUD missile ever came toward Waukesha, Wisconsin  (This was during the First Gulf War.  Scuds were a big deal.)  he wanted to be standing next to me.

Twenty years to the day later, I still think of Dave, and of the guy who helped get me home.  Of course we no longer have the car, I don't have that job anymore, and Hubby and I have moved several times since that snowy Valentine's Day.

But I still have my memories of a regular guy who was a hero to me. 

And that would make February 14 1991 one of my very best Valentine's Days.

Here's hoping you all have a great day, whether you're in a relationship or not.  Keep and eye out...heroes pop up when you least expect them, and when you most need them!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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