Valentine’s Day hangover

ANOTHER Valentine’s Day has come to pass. Besides Christmas, it’s the only other time of the year when you walk through town and you are literally seeing red.

Crimson roses, scarlet hearts, burgundy wine-red racy lacy lingerie and cherry covered heart-shaped chocolate cakes stare at you from glassy windows.

It’s a big celebration all in the name of love. If you want to be invited to the party, you need to be in love or at least be loved because Valentine’s Day is one party you can’t gatecrash. I should know because my invitation either gets lost in the post or delivered way after the event.

I recall one particular year when I had the misfortune of being stuck in the office on the dreaded day. You see when it falls on the weekend and you are Valentine-less you could literally be incognito. Nobody will know that you didn’t have a plan or were not part of one.

However, when the day falls during the working week there is no escaping it. Nonetheless, I woke up in a good mood, caught up in the joie de vivre of the day.

I wore a red top with my somber black suit. The atmosphere was buoyant and ripe with expectation. All morning I sat in the office, tapping my nails on the keyboard, not doing much work, waiting for that huge elaborate flower arrangement from that anonymous secret admirer.

Each time the messenger walked into our pool office carrying a bouquet of splendour my pulse quickened, hoping and praying that he would steer towards my direction. When those flowers landed on yet another colleague’s desk, I had to catch my face from hitting the floor.

By midday I was in danger of becoming an advert for an anti-ageing wrinkle cream. My brow was furrowed with untold anxiety. So I compromised; if I didn’t get flowers at least I deserved a box of expensive Lindt chocolates.

The day progressed painfully. My jaw ached from oohing and ahhing over other women’s Valentine’s gifts. All around me talk of romance abounded.

One guy in the office was cooking a candlelight dinner for the love of his life. Our secretary was being skirted off to a romantic rendezvous in Maputo, Mozambique. I, on the other hand, was sliding head first into the depths of despair and one colleague was cruel enough to play Celine Dion on their PC.

By the time the clock swung to four o’clock I had lowered my standards to a card, a nice Hallmark card with those over used clichés like “My world is incomplete without you”.

As I walked into the elevator, I was enveloped in a cloud of intricate displays of love. Flowers poked me in the face and the pollen only served to ignite my hay fever.

I was immediately transformed to the previous year when I had been the envy of the building with a flower arrangement that had brought traffic to a screeching halt. Now here I was, hiding behind the flora and hoping to do a James Bond and leave the building unnoticed.

I did not even linger around the city. I raced home to find refuge in my personal haven. Even as I drove, I nursed a flicker of hope that maybe, just maybe I would find a nice surprise on my doorstep.

The only thing I found was a crumpled electricity bill. I turned on the radio and Luther Vandross was softly crooning Any Love.

I turned it right off and turned my attention to the television set. DSTV had a sterling line up of tearjerkers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet and the Titanic.

I switched that off because I could not bear to be punished any longer. I checked my cellphone for an sms. This was before the era of WhatsApp.

I wasn’t even worthy of a picture message! I climbed into bed at 6pm. I woke on February the 15th glad to have put Valentine’s Day behind me.

I reached for my cell phone and to my surprise my inbox was filled with smses from girlfriends. They all moaned about how awful Valentine’s Day had been.

I smiled to myself, thankful that I had not been alone in my misery. As you know, there’s comfort in numbers. But as I dressed that morning I still nursed a fleeting hope that things would be different.

That maybe I would be invited to that Valentine’s Day party. That between now and then Cupid would pierce my loving heart with an arrow!

So don’t despair of if you were not wined, dined and Valentined. You might just land that VIP invitation to the lovers’ party in 2016!

Sukoluhle Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi

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