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Opinion: Valentine's Day during the pandemic

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Face it guys, it’s too late to get her something that will really impress her. Picking up one of those boxes of chocolates that have been on the supermarket shelves for the past three months just won’t cut it. The fresh flowers in the refrigerator at the front of the store will be okay, but they won’t elicit the level of gratitude that would ensue from the gift that you didn’t get. You know, the one that took some reflection.

Unless you own a Lear Jet to whisk you to a major metropolitan area that still has upscale stores open, an unlimited Visa card, and a plan for a thoughtful gift, you’re not likely to get more than an “Oh, thanks” tomorrow. Of course, you could pretend that it’s not Valentine’s Day, go to work on all those chores in the garage that you’ve been procrastinating about, and just accept the fact that you’ll wind up with the silent treatment. And, you know that will include succotash or brussels sprouts at every meal for the next week or so.

The silent treatment might have been welcome last Sunday during the Super Bowl, but that’s not the cold shoulder’s comfort zone. When it’s fourth down and the ball is on the one inch line and your team has decided to “go for it,” she’s certain to remember to tell you about Cousin Clara’s plans for her upcoming wedding. Naturally, she’ll stand right where you’re watching to illustrate the seating chart for the rehearsal dinner so that you’ll know that you’ll be seated between Aunt Bertha, you know — the one with arthritis in her wrists. So, you’ll have to cut her meat. And your nephew Willie, who has a weak bladder, will be on your other side.

Oh, and by the way, she also bought you a cute red satin sports coat with stylized white cupids on it. Aren’t they adorable? And, she couldn’t resist the matching tie with pictures of those red strawberries with smiley faces on them.

The good old days

There was a time, way back before this pandemic hit about 3 or 4 years ago, or maybe it was last March, when you could put on those ugly boxers with the red hearts on them that she’ll lovingly present to you tomorrow morning and tell her that you have reservations for a fantastic Valentine’s Day brunch at her favorite restaurant. Then remember that there’s something in the back yard that needs your immediate attention while you hide behind a large bush, tap a bunch of numbers on your mobile phone, and beg for a table-for-two. That’s not gonna’ work this year despite the fact that some restaurants are serving a few tables outside. If it’s cold or rainy, prepare for an avalanche of complaints.

COVID-19, a natural enemy of Cupid, put the kibosh on indoor dining. Of course, if you’re suicidal, you could write her a check and tell her to buy anything that makes her happy. Better yet, you might think, just sign the check and leave the amount blank. Just be sure that she doesn’t have a sharp object in her hand when you give it to her. Any experienced man who has survived past Valentine’s Days will tell you that in either case you’re just courting disaster.

See, here’s the deal. Covid has spoiled everything, including Valentine’s Day. Imagine Cupid in a face mask, wearing latex gloves and goggles, trying to aim his Arrow of Amore. The dang thing could fly anywhere. Hit anything. Your faithful old dog might start looking googly-eyed at one of the end tables.

Rank amateurs will resort to the lie that her present is coming from, but deliveries are slow. The problem with this ruse is that she’ll want to know what you ordered. Only a professional prevaricator would be able to bluff his way through the third degree that’s about to start.


There are some basic things that men need to learn about Valentine’s Day. I’m not a geneticist nor do I play one on TV, but I’m pretty sure that the date February 14 is stamped on female genes. In fact, it may be the main component of the X chromosome. Here’s a little test that you can try: In July, while you’re checking out bikini-clad fellow vacationers in Cancun and your better half is shopping for a Christmas present for her brother’s ex-wife’s cousin, ask her how many days there are until Valentine’s Day, 2022. I won’t spoil your surprise by telling you the answer, even if I knew it.

You see, my fellow ignoramuses, my X chromosome has been neutralized by a Y chromosome. However, although my face turned red and I stuttered when attempting to buy lingerie for my ex-wife, I do know the difference between a flat-head screw driver and a Phillips-head screw driver, the logic for punting when you’re on your own 20-yard line and its fourth down, and the importance of holding a road map right side up when you’re trying to find the correct freeway turn-off.

The potential for developing these skills is sadly missing from the X chromosome, but don’t bring that up on Valentine’s Day. It will only compound a bad situation. Besides, you could get stabbed with a Phillips-head screw driver and punted from the car on a rural goat trail that doesn’t even show up on a road map.

Guys, this is not the time for one of those cards from the “Humorous” section at the supermarket or pharmacy. Not the time for any kind of electric appliance. Or a dozen lottery tickets. However, an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination just might smooth things over. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at

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