I’ve never been enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day and neither has my wife, Anne. We don’t do anything especially extravagant this time of year, but we do enjoy spending time together as much as the next couple.
Anne and I went to high school together. At the time, she was dating my best friend, Scott. He looked like a thug. I had befriended him becauseI was a skinny loudmouth and needed protection.
Anne dated him because her parents were goodygoody and she needed to annoy them. She broke up with him when we all headed off to college — we were growing up and moving on. At one point, the high school had an event where all the grads were welcomed back to meet up. We got together at one of the favorite local hangouts and had a great time.
Once the party began to settle down and people began to leave, Anne agreed to do me a favor and drive me home. During the ride, I suggested that we play a little game: instead of punching the roof of the car every time we saw one headlight, we had to kiss. She agreed, and when we came to a stop at a red light, we both saw a car with one headlight. I can tell you exactly where that intersection is today. That was where we had our first kiss.
The following night, I went over to my thugfriend’s place to hang out for a while before taking Anne out on our first date. We were in his parents’ basement, which was stuffed with workout equipment (he was a gifted fighter, and he worked out diligently). Before Anne and I left, I remember saying, “Hey, Scott, I need to tell you something, but before I do, you’ve gotta promise me you won’t hit me — at least in the face — because I have a date with your ex-girlfriend tonight.” Thankfully, Scott didn’t hit me, and my date with Anne went very well. The rest is history!
I mentioned in a previous newsletter that when I asked Anne to marry me, I didn’t actually have a ring to propose with. Instead of spending a lot of money on a ring for that moment, we saved enough to put a down payment on our first house. We celebrated our time together as newlyweds for a while before we started thinking about having children. Soon after, we were expecting a baby girl, which meant that we had to decide on a name.
Growing up I had all brothers, and that left me with this dream that if I ever had a daughter, I’d give her a guy’s name like Alex, Michael, or Sam. Anne, on the other hand, wanted to give our daughter a more feminine name. As she was getting closer to her due date, neither of us could make the final decision; there was a lot of back and forth but nothing was ever determined.
I was hanging out with a buddy of mine a few weeks before Valentine’s Day that year, and he was telling me how much he put into the holiday every year for his wife. I was surprised. I told him, “Anne and I never do any of that.” His response surprised me even more. “Well, yeah, because your wife is just your wife, not a wife and a mother.” That was something to think about. I decided to try to put more effort into something special for her that year. Finally it came to me: what Anne really wanted was to pick the name of our baby girl.
Eighteen years ago, I gave her a Valentine’s Day card that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day! You get to name the baby whatever you want.” Anne was absolutely thrilled, naming our first daughter Elizabeth. I think she took the card to heart, too, because she named our next two daughters, Abigale and Rebecca, with very traditional and feminine names.