Epic Valentine Fails

10 Feb

Do you know what I’ve discovered?    When I die and sail off into the great unknown, the first thing I’m going to do is look up Eve (of Adam and Eve fame) and kick her ass because of the “curse” and the gross birthing method women got saddled with.  I mean what woman has ever truthfully thought that that monthly plague we get was worth its hassle, or what woman wouldn’t exchange the excruciating pain of childbirth for the power men seem to have been endowed with from Jump Street.  In a fair world we should have been able to switch roles halfway through our lifetimes—kind of like musical chairs.  Maybe it would have been negotiable.  Who knows?  But we never got a chance to find out.  All that chick Eve  had to do was follow the game plan; but nooooooo, she was all:

EVE:       “Eat the apple Adam.  If you do we’ll be like God and we’ll know everything.  What’s the worst that can happen to us, Adam?” 

Adam and Eve Mistake garyharbo dot com

The second person whose ass I’m going to whup is Esther Howland, the mother of the American Valentine card.  The fluke thing that made Esther rich in 1840 was the spawn of all that is evil about Valentine’s Day in 2013.   It was just our luck that Esther was the daughter of a stationery store owner and she once got a frilly lace-embossed valentine card from Victorian England.  She was all:

ESTHER:  “Faaathaw, is not this lace-infused, linen-embossed, over-the-top valentine’s card simply marvelous?  What say you loan me some of your stationery goods and I’ll make every American woman lust after this manifestation of “true love” forever and forever.  My Valentine cards will be a tribute to the purest form of love and the start of a Valentine revolution!”

That was then:  1840

Valentine Esther Howland Design

And this is what we’ve descended into now . . . 2013

Valetine Teddy Gift timesunion dot com


So 173 years later, lovers (men especially) must turn into consummate event planners for one day, lovers must become psychics who can accurately guess every whim of their beloved, and checking accounts must be depleted and drained to feed the restaurant, flower, candy, and hotel industries (worth about 18 billion
dollars) once Cupid’s arrow strikes its target.  The Valentine fails are legendary (I’ve had a few of my own).  Nothing ever turns out like we’ve planned:  a few Valentine scenarios will be better than anticipated but most will be worse, because shit always happens when you least expect it, because we’re humans.  The industry manipulations are too entrenched to throw them all overboard and start from scratch but guidance is definitely
needed.  I’m old and I know shit, so over the weekend I set up a “Dalai Mama Epic Valentine Fails website” to take questions from the Valentine road-kill in need of a word or two of wisdom about avoiding epic Valentine Day fails.

Valentine Flowers and candy zazzle dot com Valentine’s Day Card for the Clueless

VALENTINE NOVICE #1: “Dalai Mama, I’ve met a girl I really like.  I’ve never done the whole Valentine production before but I thought, since this girl is so special, I’d rent a limo, take her to a great restaurant, and see where the night ends—if you know what I mean.  But there’s a problem, even though I started looking for restaurant reservations two weeks ago, everything from Manny’s Steak House to White Castle is booked, and no limo company within 200 miles will book me a reservation for under $200 an hour.  Also, did I mention that I just got my first job and I don’t have much money?  Can you help me or am I headed into an epic Valentine fail?”  Signed, Young and in love in Minnesota

DALAI MAMA:  “Of course I ‘know what you mean,’ Val Novice #1—I’m old but I’m not dead!   Yes, you are headed for an epic fail.  Only amateurs go to restaurants on Valentine’s Day.  An average dinner that would normally cost $70 will be sold to you for $150, and the food will be mediocre at best (a restaurant that normally serves a modestly priced fish dish will suddenly only serve high-end steaks or overpriced pasta with lobster and a mediocre red sauce that tastes suspiciously like canned marinara).  All the tables will be pushed together and maximum seating capacity completely ignored so that the restaurant can make up for its January slump, and every word you utter will be heard and judged by the elbow-bumping couples to your left, right, front, and rear. Not to mention that the noise from all the chatter will be cacophonous, and the agitated wait staff will serve you in such a hurried manner that you’ll complete your entire romantic meal in just under 55 minutes so that the 20 other couples can be rushed in to take your place and experience their wind-whipped Valentine dining experience.”

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

Turn your living space into a restaurant and cook for your cutie (clean your apartment first—especially the toilet).  If you can’t cook, arrange for the local grocery store to prepare the meal, pick it up at the appropriate time and follow nuking instructions (throw away the grocery store bags to maintain the illusion).  Candles, romantic music, dim lighting, no old sock smells, and easy-going and funny conversation will go a long way to your final goal—if you know what I mean.  All women love a man with a sense of humor.  But if you’re humorless, well, I don’t know what to tell you—I can’t help you there.  P.S. If you really want to do the whole limo scenario, have one of your buddies put on a black suit and cap, and pick your girl up with you in the back seat carrying one rose.  (If you can’t afford a dozen roses during the hyped Valentine season, approximately $150-$200, one rose is always better than nothing.)

valentines catalog thong toilette dash humor dot com

“Valentine lingerie”|image from

VALENTINE NOVICE #2:  “Dalai Mama:  I’ve been married to my wife for thirty-eight years.   Romance has never been our thing, but we almost got divorced out of shear boredom last year.  So I started taking the little blue pill, and I was thinking maybe it was time to spice things up a little bit this Valentine’s Day—if you know what I mean.   I was hoping to purchase my wife some sexy lingerie from one of the catalogues that recently came to the house, but it is hard to tell what she’d like.  I thought I’d better get some advice from a woman who is of similar age to my wife which is why I’m writing.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the wife is not the size she was when we first married.  What do you think:  am I headed for an epic Valentine fail?”  Signed: Looking to get a rise in Pennsylvania

DALAI MAMA:   “Dear Val Novice #2:  If you do this, I promise you that your wife will hate you forever.  Since when did you become an expert in women’s sizes?   You say she’s put on a few pounds?  This is an epic Valentine fail waiting to happen.  No man should ever buy woman lingerie, ever—no matter what her size!  That catalogue you received is a “sucker’s catalogue” trying to get you to waste your money on a multi-million dollar Victoria Secret’s industry.  They will sell you anything, including thong underwear that doesn’t even look that good on the heroine-chic model sporting it.  I bet you that it’s edible, right?  (Can I let you in on a little secret?  That shit sounds better than it really is.  Trust me!)  If the lingerie is too big, your wife will think you think she’s huge and it will make her sad (and you won’t be getting’ nothin’ that night), if it is too small, she’ll think you’ve been watching porn and she will kill you.  (And why does everyone keep asking me if “I know what they mean”—I’m not a sexless idiot!)  What if we switched the idea to another ass?  What if your wife bought your chubby little droopy ass some sexy underwear she saw on David Beckham in an underwear ad?  How would you respond?  (Never mind, don’t answer that; men are generally clueless when it comes to how they look in inappropriate underwear.)”

Valentine chocolates instead cartoonstock dot com fran cartoon

Image from

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

Don’t do it—don’t ever do it.  Give your wife a gift card and let her buy what she thinks is sexy.  Besides, now that you’re taking the little blue pill, methinks she could be wearing a burlap sack and you’d still be dancing around the house singing, “Let’s get it on!”  Good luck!

Valentine single source remember dash neverlosehope


VALENTINE NOVICE #3:  “Dalai Mama, I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY!   I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!  I can’t believe you’ve made my pain even worse by doing an entire blog about Valentine’s Day.  This ersatz “holiday” cuts through me like a knife.  (Did I mention that I hate it?)  Nothing makes me feel like such a loser than everybody showing off at the office by getting flowers from their boyfriends and husbands.  For the past five years or so I’ve been sending myself flowers just so I won’t feel like such a dork, but this year I’m not even going to bother.  I am what I am—alone, and I’ll die alone.  Most of my friends are engaged or married and the only guys I know are gay.  (Did I mention that I hate you for reminding me that I’m alone?)  Signed: 3rd Wheel in Toronto

Dear Val Novice #3:  “Are you through feeling sorry for yourself?  ‘Cause the Dalai Mama don’t play that shit.  Life is what you make it and if it gives you lemons then you go out and make goddamn lemonade.  Dalai Mama didn’t marry her man until she was in her thirties, and “White and wonderful” (WW) was worth the wait.  In fact, had I married any one of the jerks I met before WW, I shudder to think what my life would be like today.  Have you seen Valentine’s Day by Gary Marshall?  It’s an awful movie, but the scene worth watching and emulating is the “I hate Valentine’s Day” scene where all the unattached girls meet for dinner with a piñata heart and beat the shit out of it with a baseball bat as they recount their horrid past relationships.  Excellent therapy!  So grab your single friends—guys, gals, straight, gay, divorced, widowed—and get all dressed up, and cook a great dinner for each other and then pulverize your own version of a piñata heart.  And then declare your urban family love for each other—being there to watch each other’s back no matter what is needed.  I guarantee you that Valentine’s Day will work for you and not against you.  P.S.  It helps if everybody gets a little bit drunk!

Valentine Day Movie party scene

Jessica Biel in “Valentine’s Day”|Warner Bros. Pictures

I am discovering that we are all the victims of the money-grubbing Valentine industry.  Our minds have also been poisoned by storytellers like Nicholas Sparks and Hollywood’s formulaic romantic comedies (boy sees girl, girl sees boy, both fall madly in love, both fall out of love, both run languidly through the wheat field/airport/city
street/along the beach declaring their undying love in the last five minutes of the movie and live happily ever after.  Life is just not like that.  Relationships are up and down, in and out.  Romance is real but is only meant to be a beckoning call to attract each other and sexually connect us.  Once that has happened, then the real work
begins—the “growing in love” part.

The romantic love we feel toward the opposite sex is probably one extra help from God to bring you together, but that’s it. All the rest of it, the true love, is the test.”—Joan Chen

The sooner we untangle ourselves from the commercialism of Valentine’s Day and search for what makes us happy as individuals and what makes those who love us happy, the better off we’ll be as people and lovers.  Trust me—it has nothing to do with money and over-the-top treacle romance.  It has more to do with the “c” word:  commitment.

Valentine growing old together dave granlund cartoon

My parents circulate the room hand in hand . . . Soul mates. They really call themselves that, which makes sense, because I guess they are . . . They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish—expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other’s spaces liquidly.  Making it look easy, the soul-mate thing.  People say children from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.”—by Gillian Flynn from Gone Girl

 “True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.”Ricardo Montalban

  “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”—Lao Tzu

 “I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” —Author Unknown

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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27 responses to “Epic Valentine Fails

  1. Ronnie Hammer

    February 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    You called it as it is in real life, Eleanor. Your post was so terrific that I tried to “like” it twice, which wordpress wouldn’t allow. I love your Mama Lama, and am sure the Dalai Lama would approve wholeheartedly.

    • etomczyk

      February 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks Ronnie. So glad you enjoyed this post. Believe it or not, this was a brutal one to write and I don’t know why. (It is so hard to be a funny, a storyteller, and not start to rant. The post I had originally written was just a rant and I hated it.) Thanks for stopping by and loved the fact you wanted to “like” it twice!

  2. talesfromthemotherland

    February 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I heart you Eleanor. Twenty-six years ago, we got married on Valentine’s day, because (and this is the God’s honest truth) we both had that weekend off from grad school, and it shut our families up. They were making a mockery of our wedding plans. Little did we know how complicated every single anniversary would be!! Ugh. Did not think that one through at all. This year we’ve invited friends here, to cook a combined effort meal… that we hope will be filled with lots of laughs, good food and love. Enjoyed your post.

    • etomczyk

      February 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Dawn: I never thought about what it would be like to have been married on Valentine’s day. At first blush it would seem very romantic but I know that’s because my mind has been coerced by the “romance industry”. Your plans this year sound lovely. We love celebrating our anniversary with friends as long as they aren’t having marital strife. Happy Anniversary!

      • talesfromthemotherland

        February 10, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        We seem to have lots of marital strife, but friends water it down… and make us laugh at ourselves. So important.

  3. talesfromthemotherland

    February 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    PS) By the way, I have always loved your bright red lipped gravitar, but have you noticed that hat sexy mouth looks like a Valentine?? Just sayin’. 😉

    • etomczyk

      February 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Dawn. I never noticed that my lips looked like a Valentine until now. You’re so right! Yikes! 🙂

      • talesfromthemotherland

        February 10, 2013 at 11:36 pm

        I LOVE It!! Sexy and fun. Such a fantastic smile E. Do NOT change it. 🙂

  4. becomingcliche

    February 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Husband bought me a subscription to a newspaper for our first Valentines day. I bought him Earl Grey tea. We are so perfect for each other.

    I’d like the stuffed bear better if the punctuation was correct. Stuffed animal people, when will you get the memo that proper grammar is sexy?

    • etomczyk

      February 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Hi BC. That’s the point isn’t it? That we give to each other what the other needs. I hate that stuffed bear and would pull out the tongue of the person who ever gave me such trash. But it sure is indicative of the level of trash that is out there for V-day, isn’t it? Happy Valentine’s Day!

      • becomingcliche

        February 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        It is indeed. There’s a car in our area that belongs to an adult bookstore. They are decked out advertising for VD. So to speak.

  5. Valentine Logar

    February 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Trying growing up Valentine. You thought I made that name up didn’t you? Thought I pulled it out of some far away land cause I thought it was cute? Nope, try growing up Valentine. I hate Valentine’s Day. It is a made up holiday, I call it Hallmark Day.

    When people ask me to spell me name I usually look at them like they are stupid, then I say you know, like the massacre in Chicago. If they still look dumb I say you know February 14.

    This was most excellent. Wonderful advice.

    • etomczyk

      February 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Val, I forgot that your full name is Valentine. And I think I know more people who hate Valetine’s day then like it. Isn’t that something? Well, we all have our crosses to bear and it looks like being named Valentine might be yours. But, hey, Val is beautiful. So I’m glad you kept that part.

  6. composerinthegarden

    February 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    OMG, Eleanor, you had me gasping for breath for a while; haven’t laughed that much since the LAST post you made. I think it was the Valentine lingerie and the chocolate request cartoons that sent me over the edge. Even my husband giggled over those. We just had our symbolic Valentine’s event today; Sunday brunch at my favorite restaurant complete with a jazz trio, with two musicians we knew (extra treat). After 34 years of marriage, I take the lead and ask for what I want while making the event palatable for both of us. That works. And commitment? You are right on track, Dalai Mama – very few husbands are not clueless, so I don’t mind being the “guide from the side” 🙂 It’s all about “outcomes” baby! So, while we stagger off into the sunset, life can still be fun and surprising, in spite of the corporate message which I insist on ignoring – that’s the secret of a long and happy marriage 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day

    • composerinthegarden

      February 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      But I’m seriously thinking of adding a heart pinata for self-expression!

      • etomczyk

        February 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

        Don’t you love the concept of the pinata? I’m telling you, I’m encouraging all my single friends to do it.

    • etomczyk

      February 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      So glad you and your hubbie liked this blog. (You’ve been married the same length of time as WW and I have.) I’m with you: I definitely steer the ship toward what I like. Cause you know I love the bling.

      I loved those cartoons of the man and woman in the thongs too; I laughed for days when I found them even before I knew how I was going to use them. (I think I saw myself in the thong, and that was not a pretty sight. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your honey.

  7. Elyse

    February 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Great advice, Eleanor. Last year (or was it the year before?) I got my husband a book on Cicero for Valentine’s Day. We’re still married so I guess he liked it.

    No, I’m not up for the commercial aspect of V-D. What a pain in the ass. And speaking of asses, if anyone ever gave me a teddy bear with that message, or if I ever found out my son did such a distasteful thing, the man would find it in one orifice or another toot-suite.

    • etomczyk

      February 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Elyse. So true! I couldn’t believe it when I ran across that Val-day bear on Google. I bet you there was some girl that received and accepted that bear and though her “lover” was all that and a bag of chips. Yikes! Sometimes some of the stuff out there just wants to make you stand up and holler! Thanks for stopping by. Hope your V-Day was a sweet and joyful one.

  8. Hudson Howl

    February 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    I thought Valentines Day wasn’t till February. …..Oh Crap!

    • Hudson Howl

      February 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Waited till today, to add this.

      A romantic I am at heart though still a crusty french bread realist on the outer layer. Your right Valentines Day is a little too sticky with sentimental wispy shtufffs. And we all know (we, being those who realize -that a valentines cupcake lathered in icing is probably masking a stale muffin underneath) real love or should I say the reality of love, is not for the meek. Real love purrrs one day then snaps at ya like a junk yard dog the next. We all crave intimacy, but intimacy comes with a price. What is the cost of love? I don’t know the answer. Some say it is giving of yourself to another. But I think it falls closer to how willing one is to step back in distance and let them shine. That said the formula for love has a multitude of ingredients. Sugar can be one but it will live longer if it is caloric free love -I think, don’t know, not sure, all is possible, what the hell it feels good. In the long haul, it is a ocean well worth dipping into.

      Here’s to you and WW.

      • etomczyk

        February 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Hudson, my man, so true, so true. What’s love got to do with it? EVERYTHING and it is not for the meek or the weak! Happy post Valentine Day to you, my friend.

  9. eurobrat

    February 11, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Great blog as always. So glad that bf and I have discussed our V-day plans already and know what we’re doing. Nothing glamorous, but I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful time. And tonight, he sat through a Polish cabaret performance with me *like a champ* even though he didn’t understand a single word 😉 that’s how you know he’s the right one!

    • etomczyk

      February 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Eurobrat: Hope your V-day plans were full of love, joy, and laughter. Sounds like the BF is a keeper if he can sit through a cabaret performance in a different language just to make you happy. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. imagesbytdashfield

    February 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Some of those cartoons you find are shall we say “interesting” to say the least. But that bear????? Sadly I bet some damn fool will buy that and the fool he give it to will like it. You are spot on about not going out to eat on this day. I have some horrid memories of being a sardine in a can for overpriced minnow food. I’m cooking tonight…we may go out tomorrow or this weekend since I have new shoes to wear 😉

    • etomczyk

      February 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      TD: That’s because most of my commenters are like you–smart with a wicked sense of humor, so I have to find cartoons that will catch your attention and get a hearty laugh from you or an outraged gasp–either one works! 🙂 You guys would drop me like a hot potato if I was “pedestrian” or predictable. 🙂 Anyway, I always love having you drop by–you’re one of my favorites and I hope V-Day was anything but a “fail,” I hope you and Mr. D. scandalized the kids. Take care.

  11. Lindy Lee

    February 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    You are quite correct in your admonition, “I am discovering that we are all the victims of the money-grubbing Valentine industry.” Please allow me to suggest further concurrence with your point? Omit “Valentine” & insert ‘holiday’. Another great post, by the way…


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