Melissa Degesso-Jones ruined Valentine's Day for the rest of us.
The Florida woman could have bought her husband a polyester teddy bear sporting a T-shirt that read "I Wuv You." She might have picked up a pair of red boxers covered in lipstick kisses. She could have gone with the tried-and-true offer of a foot rub and free control of the remote for the night.
But no. Degesso-Jones didn't settle for the stale and obvious. She gave her husband a kidney. She did not add steak and bake it into a pie.
James Jones had been suffering from renal failure. Monday, mere days before Valentine's Day, his wife had her kidney removed and transplanted into her hubby.
I know: makes the heart-shaped cake you had planned for dessert tonight look pretty shabby, right?
Men believe they have it tough on Feb. 14. They're convinced it's a conspiracy designed by women. Forget the day and you're dirt. Buy her something stupid and you're dirt. Believe her when she says every day is Valentine's Day and it's just an artificial money grab and you're dirt. Buy her something that would make a porn star blush and you're dirt.
Buy it two sizes too small and you're dead dirt.
It's sexist, conniving and reduces true love to a Hallmark card and dinner in a crowded restaurant.
But men aren't alone in this world of overpriced red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and cheap representations of romantic love. My gender falls victim to the same conspiracy. We just don't let you see us sweat.
A typical Valentine's Day at my house goes something like this:
Me (on Dec. 14): "I thought I'd just make us a nice dinner at home on Valentine's Day."
My beloved: "Isn't that in February?"
Me (on Jan. 28): "I thought I'd just make us a nice dinner at home on Valentine's Day."
My beloved: "Um, hmm."
Me (on Feb. 13): "I'm making us a nice dinner tomorrow."
My beloved: "Want to just go out?"
Me (on Feb. 14): "I'd better pick up a card. And maybe a marshmallow heart. And a giant balloon. And he'd better appreciate that home-cooked meal we've been talking about for months."
I know my beloved doesn't care if he gets a card. I hate lousy chocolate and cheap trinkets. He is indifferent to fine dining. I don't drink champagne. He will not appreciate a stuffed animal, unless it has a Walking Dead DVD sewn inside. He brings me flowers for no reason. I cook foods he loves as a habit. We understand that daily gestures stitch a marriage together.
We should both be immune from the pressures of Valentine's Day.
But I'm not.
I bought flowers for a family member at Safeway this week, marvelling at the cost of rose bouquets, rose and carnation combinations, rosebuds in vases and teddy bears holding roses. The clerk told me just as many girls and women buy flowers during what is now Valentine's week. They just don't arrive at the last-minute, glistening and desperate.
I went to Walmart and saw Valentine's gifts for pets. I love my dog because she's always happy to see me. Or anyone. She loves me because I can operate the can opener. It's not romantic on either side. I could spray Pam on a shoebox and she'd take that as proof she was in heaven.
There's a small part of me that wants to buy one of those jumbo Valentine's cards, the kind you can turn into a TV table when you're done. Dollarama doesn't sell them, so that's out.
Nope, I'm not bowing to pressure. I'm sticking to my original plan. When my husband gets home tonight, he'll have a nice, home-cooked dinner.
I just have to figure out what sort of side dish goes with spleen.