Ah, Valentine's day. A holiday that appears to celebrate the love of spending large amounts of cash on people who probably won't like what you got them because they were expecting an emerald brooch or something.
(Not that I'm hinting or anything. Nope, not me.)
So, I'm racking my brains on what to do for Valentine's day, and the answer, unexpectedly, falls into my lap.
Specifically, it falls out of the "Money Mailer" coupon envelope we get in the mail every month. An ad for the local Dollar Store.
Wow! All my Valentine's needs can be met at the dollar store, it says! And it doesn't have to cost a fortune!
Pity the poor man who reads this ad and goes off to the dollar store. What fresh horrors will be awaiting his sweetie tomorrow? I thought I'd find out. And because I'm a cheap date, I set myself a budget of $10. Valentine's day is all about quantity, anyway, or else why would stores be touting two dozen long-stemmed red roses as being better than one?
Hmm. Actually, on first inspection, the dollar store doesn't have much of a Valentine selection. The small amount of heart stuff is overwhelmed by the pastel monolith of Easter goods. Considering the dollar store seems to be the clearing house for all the unsellable religious items manufactured (who *wants* nun figurines?), it makes sense that they would emphasize the biggest holiday in the Christian calendar.
(Christmas was co-opted by Satan long ago. All that red, you know.)
But still, among the pastel marshmallow candy is a small display of heart shaped goodies. I quickly snagged a bag of original Necco-brand Sweethearts[tm], because there's no better way to say "I luv you" than with a small, dusty-flavoured lump of sugar. I've examined the package all over, and have failed to find a Sell-by/Best-by date, thus confirming my suspicion that this stuff is not really food, per se.
Next to the Sweethearts was a stack of Peeps Hearts[tm], but I passed over them because I have a packet of them aging at home from last year.
(They're only going to be exploded in the microwave, anyway: "This is my heart." *beep*beep*whirrrrrrr*expand*expand*expand* "This is my heart after you buy me a three-carat emerald bracelet. Any questions?")
Really, the candy display yielded unexpected treasures - I discovered a heart-shaped box of "Milk Chocolates with Hazelnut Praline Filling" for only a dollar. I *had* to get these, though I'm not sure I'll ever eat them (especially since they're made by a company called Candy Tech). The package says "For You", elliminating any need for those pesky Valentine's day cards that never say quite the right thing.
Lastly, I picked up a bag of what I thought were called "Luv Pups" ("ooh! candy hot dogs! How cute!"), but were actually "Luv *Pops*", cherry flavoured heart-shaped lollipops with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the wrappers. I assume these are designed for the harried mother who has to buy Valentine presents for her child's entire Kindergarten class of 50.
(I think I'll inflict them on my co-workers.)
Moving on to: Flowers! Yes, you can get two dozen red roses here, and they won't die, ever! The roses thing always stumps me. I mean, I like getting them, but why should fresh, farm-grown roses that die in three days be better than silk roses that last a lifetime (with a little light dusting now and then)? But anyway. I calculated that for three dollars I could get a dozen and a half roses (or Easter lilies, but I think I'm the only person that associates those things with funerals, so I'm the only person that would actually *want* a bunch of these from my valentine). But I held back, because after all, I still had only $10, and I wanted to get the most bang for my buck, as it were.
Speaking of banging, the two most disturbing things I found were the baby bottle covered with hearts ("Ummm, honey? What are you trying to tell me?"), and the balloon-on-a-stick-that-says-I-Love-You with a new twist: It inflates *after* you buy it.
Except that it describes itself as "auto-inflatable", which just sounds too like a really hideous sex toy for words.
(I'm going to get a lot of Google hits on this entry, aren't I?)
Jewelry: What's Valentine's day without a little over-priced mineral set into a cheap gold necklace? Well, okay, not from the dollar store. But over in the children's section you can pick up all kinds of stuff that looks sort of like real jewelry if you turn the lights down low. And squint.
I looked at necklaces and bracelets, but finally decided on a "ring for every day of the week" set, with an added bonus of hot-pink metallic heart-shaped sunglasses, thereby staying within the whole "heart-valentine-pink" theme. The rings are very fetching, though they have a slight tendency to snap if pressed too hard against something. And I can't wait to go to a party sporting my new Movie-Star style sunglasses.
Last stop (and my last two bucks, because I blew $3 on stuff I actually wanted): Figurines. The expensive tasteful choice would be Lladro or Dresden, the expensive tacky choice would be Precious Moments[tm], but here we get the cheap tacky choices! I found a touchingly sweet bear diorama, where one bear is shooting heart-loaded arrows, and the other is holding the quiver in an "I am your ammo-monkey of love" pose. Not bad, but I really scraped the bottom of the barrel when I found...
er... its... its... well, I'm not really sure *what* it is, but it's four/$1, and it has hearts on it. There were only two choices in this ultra-cheap category, but I got two of each, and they have taken on an interesting "Bookends from HELL" aspect sitting on my desk. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I'm thinking ritual burning. They really are something. If I actually got something like this for Valentine's day, I would have no choice but to kill the person who gave them to me, and then kill myself in what the New York Post would call a "Bizarre Love Slaying Ritual Kills Two Shock".
Kind of romantic, when you think about it.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.