While not always funny in the moment, humor is often found in some of the most heartbreaking moments of our love lives over time.
Comedian Steve Allen observed that "tragedy plus time equals comedy." The concept is so seemingly accurate, it's been adopted by Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart, Lenny Bruce, and even Woody Allen. Never is this emotional mathematical calculation more accurate than when we look back on Valentine's Day debacles and laugh at the memory.
NO ESCAPING LOVE
My favorite V-Day date of all time was dinner and an escape room—no better way to show you love someone than to escape with them.
WIND BENEATH HIS WINGS
I absolutely love Hooters hot wings—couldn't get enough of them in high school (and I do just mean the wings). One Valentine's season, they had a "Shred-Your-Ex" deal. I was in my first relationship and didn't yet have an "ex." Therefore, I thought it'd be a great idea to use a picture of my then current girlfriend for laughs and, like magic, I got a free order of 10 additional wings with any meal purchase I made. I was very happy.
I dated that same girl for about a year, and my Hooters ploy came up in conversation the next January. Things were already on the rocks at this point, but it was the last straw on the camel's back when she found out I "would be so ignorant as to use her to get stupid chicken wings."
We broke up just a few weeks before Valentine's Day. I was very upset—extremely distraught, in fact. I was so distraught, I brought her picture in for the same Valentine's Day promotion for 10 extra free chicken wings again.
NOT CUPID'S ARROW
I had always fancied being moonstruck, but I was struck by a sharp metal fencing pole instead. I was sashaying my, years-ago, youthful cuteness past an adorable hunk when I went slightly off course and impaled my shin. My pride took over and forced me to continue my strut (quickly away) so he might never notice my sexiness being reduced to clumsiness, tears, and a gaping wound.
Finally, I made it around the corner, out of sight, and limped back to my apartment to call my momma to bring me some bandages and her advice: "Girl, never let a man turn your head without first looking where you are going."
GROUPTHINK GONE WRONG
My parents decided to put money towards our new home in lieu of Valentine's Day gifts to each other. While discussing Valentine's gifts over lunch at work, my father contributed their fiscally responsible compromise to the conversation—a decision decisively eviscerated with a guarantee of his indefinite nights sleeping on a couch were he to not sidestep this agreement and surprise my mother with a gift. (Un)fortunately, someone volunteered a solution: He would surprise her with a gift, but, to reassure her the gift wasn't a full departure from their pecuniary pact, he would ensure that she knew it was inexpensive. This concession, bewilderingly, received unanimous approval of the break-room tribunal.
Season this recipe for disaster with my father's absent eye for female fashion: The result was an oversized, leopard-print bag from Payless, complete with a discount-aisle tag.
I remember this vividly because it was after that year he began asking my sister and I—and never, ever again his staff—for gift ideas.
BREAKUP BY CANDLELIGHT
A few years ago, I dated a guy just long enough to have someone to hug at Christmas, kiss on New Year's Eve, and take care of after he drank too much at Mardi Gras. But shortly thereafter, we were already on the outs.
We celebrated Valentine's Day a day late to avoid the rush of lovestruck couples overtaking the local eateries. I made reservations at a nice restaurant [Ralph's on the Park], and a friend of mine was our server. He dumped me—very publicly—over blackened Gulf fish and truffle fries.
If you ask him, I'm sure he didn't want to break up at our Valentine's dinner, but I forced it out of him. The truth is I knew something was wrong and asked him about it. He said, "I really don't think this is the time to discuss it," which only opened a can of worms. But worms don't go so well with Gulf fish and truffle fries, so I'll admit that I did ask him to elaborate. And I was single again by dessert.
Knowing that he'd at least have the decency to pick up the tab, I decided to stick around for the sake of a fancy, free meal. I even gave him Valentine's Day gifts. And when my server friend asked if there was anything else she could get for us, I resisted the temptation to order the most expensive bottle of champagne. I asked her for a praline bread pudding to go, to soothe my broken heart later, home alone with my cat.
It was a week that only seemed to get worse. I was served with divorce papers by my then-wife on Monday. Tuesday was spent lawyer shopping. Wednesday, it was confirmed one of my parents had a terminal disease. Thursday, a friend of the family suddenly passed away. Friday the 13th lived up to expectations. And all of these weekdays culminated into the fabled 14th day of February.
We had Valentine's Day dinner reservations at an elegant seaside restaurant with the family (who still knew nothing of our impending separation). The mood was somber, but the veiled mask of happiness and romance by my wife and I was Oscar-worthy. A Valentine's Day to cap a hellacious week to remember, to be sure.
The humor is mercilessly pointed out by our daughters, who mischievously (and a tad sadistically) remind me it was our own fault—we got engaged and married a year later on April Fool's Day. An unintended time-release prank, if there ever was one.
It's comforting to remember your disastrous Valentine's Day experience this year is likely to be one of many funny stories paving the road to love. After all, there's a reason all's fair in both love and war.