Or many years late.
Only my wife can make that call.
Assuming someone reads this to her.
Roughly 20 years ago, in the mid-February shortly after My Love and I began dating, she invited me back to her home state of Nebraska for a friend's wedding. I dusted off my one and only suit and suppressed my then-fear of flying. Maybe I didn't suppress it so much as it was canceled by the apprehension about meeting her family and, worse, a few of her studly ex-boyfriends.
Being in her native land, My Love handled most of the driving along those never-bending highways. This left me staring for hours through the rental car window into the aptly named Great Plains as it grew more featureless and infinite with every new vanilla layer of snow. When my amusement from exit signs for Beaver Crossing and McCool Junction faded, I took to perusing the local newspapers, reading aloud items that caught my fancy from the pages of the Kearney Hub and Lawrence Locomotive. It's a tradition, along with chawing on handfuls of beef jerky, that we carry on to this day on road trips.
Being near Cupid's holiday, several of the papers published Valentine missives between lovers - new, old, hopeful and desperate. After reading several of them, I nearly choked on a plug of hickory-flavored Oberto.
The message went something like this:
Every day I'm with you my love for you grows and I find you are even more beautiful on the inside than the outside.
Completely not me.
It was the most bizarre of coincidences in the most bizarre of places but at just the right time.
I read it to her. And she lit up. The glow in her face defrosted our windows and probably more than a few passing acres of winter wheat.
It took a while for My Love to believe I wasn't conning her when I claimed no responsibility for that love note. In the end, it didn't matter. Neither of us remembers what I really did give her that Valentine's Day, but we still talk about the sign the gods or fate sent us from beyond the Nebraska farmland.
Two decades have come and gone since. We are so past the romance stage in our relationship that it's a wonder either of us showers on weekends anymore.
This year, as for the past several, My Love has told me to get her nothing for Valentine's Day. She really means "nothing beyond an obligatory greeting card."
She expects no flowers and has made me aware on more than one occasion not to waste the money on something that fades and dies so quickly.
My recent suggestion to splurge on a dinner -- sans kids! -- was nixed because "everyone's out that night" and neither of us needs the hassle.
Chocolates are always a no -- calories, fat, hips and thighs, you know.
Lingerie? Refer back to the sentence on chocolates. Then re-read the one about no showering.
However, I really feel I still owe her something from 20 years ago. So here goes:
I knew I loved you on our second date. That's when, as a joke, you secretly flipped around every other cassette box in the case I kept in my car so the next day the labels would be difficult for me to read when I fumbled at a stoplight in search of some new tunes to play. You have been turning my world and me upside down ever since.