February 14, 2012

A third girl labored in a working-class diner. One day a man came through town who was indistinguishable from the other customers except perhaps he was more clean-shaven. Over the course of many weeks and several late-night cups of coffee they became acquainted and a friendship began.

Eventually he inquired about her impressions of him. When asked about appearance she replied, “Oh no, you are absolutely fit.” When speaking of age she laughed, “Oh ridiculous, you are very young.” When discussing his life decisions she chided, “Oh I disagree, you are quite intelligent.”

For Christmas that year she unexpectedly gave him a used money clip from Tiffany & Co. which she admitted was purchased at a pawn shop. Even so, it was obvious to him that given her meager state it was quite a sacrifice. He later had it engraved and it now resides in a bank vault along with his first edition of Shelley’s Posthumous Poems and a rare Patek Philippe pocket watch.

Her gesture led to something more than a friendship and the girl was later shocked to learn the degree to which this fellow differed in his circumstance from his every outward impression. In the years to come she received many little (and large) blue boxes from him.

The first woman has gained a moderate 30 pounds and lives in a moderately sized house in the suburbs of a moderately sized city. It is uncertain whether her husband will take her out to dinner this evening, though most assuredly he will not take her over to Europe.

The second woman lives in a small apartment in a large downtown. She resides there with her only child by a man with whom she does not live and seldom sees, the infant a product of neither her first nor second marriages, both of which resulted in divorce.

The third girl no longer works in a diner. This year she received a full-length mink coat.

For those alone on the holiday, there is one simple moral to these stories.

For everyone else, all my best on a very happy St. Valentine’s Day.



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