Apples, Pears, and... Valentines
Valentine’s Day is for lovers, romance and courtship. I wish I had a nickel for every promise made and every diamond ring that was given on Valentine’s Day.

I guess we don't call it courtship anymore, but the process is still the same. When two people meet they want to put their best foot forward. Regardless of age, or phase of life; each worries about the impression they're making on the other. Does she like me? Does he find me attractive?  They question, how can I impress her or how can I make him fall in love with me.

Lets say, metaphorically speaking, he likes pears and she likes apples. They don't know this about each other at first. She assumes because she likes apples, and she likes him, naturally he likes apples too. That's a reasonable assumption. Of course, at the same time, he is making the same assumption about her. She must like pears, especially if she likes him.

On their first Valentine’s Day she gave him apples and he gave her pears. Neither wanted to offend the other, so they smiled and accepted the well-intended gift. This of course, supported the assumption that they were right about what the other liked. They continued giving each other the gifts that would most appeal to themselves. And they each continued to accept the gifts graciously. The relationship went well. They'd made a good impression and they got married.

He kept giving her pears but by now, she was tired of eating the pears that she never liked in the first place. She began to hide them in the cellar, give them away when he wasn't looking, or just plain put them down the garbage disposal. However, she merrily gave him apple pies, apple cobblers, applesauce, apple cider, apple compote, all of which she had lovingly prepared just for him. Meanwhile, he made pears sautéed with chicken breast, pears sliced thinly in a green salad, pear jelly, and put pears into a new mustard sauce which he lovingly presents to her. He secretly took her apple creations to work and “shared” them with his co-worker, or simply dropped them into the trash can in the company lounge.

They tried to be polite and sensitive, and to hide their true feelings to no avail.  Soon a spontaneous little look of disgust crept across his face momentarily as she handed him her latest apple gift, and she could no longer fight the urge to gag on still more pears. The pears took on the form of enthusiastic invitations to accompany him to live sports events that he mistakenly thought she loved as much as he did. Meanwhile she longed for a different kind of date with him. She wanted to get all gussied up and go to a fancy restaurant. She offered him the chance of a lifetime to experience a live concert that would only be in town for one day. Never mind, he hated concerts but would have been glad to go to the racetrack. She had become very health conscious, and her idea of a loving gesture was to stop buying junk food. You guessed. He loved junk food and missed it terribly. He got into a bad mood if he didn't have his occasional hit of junk food, and she believed it was her God given duty to do all she could to preserve his health and longevity; to protect him from himself, after all she loved him.

Both became disillusioned with their relationship. What’s happened to the romance they questioned. They didn't even like each other much anymore. They didn't talk much so they'd taken to reading each others minds. She doesn't want to spend time with me anymore he thought, when she looked out the window as he offered her of a pear.  He doesn't appreciate how much I care about him she guessed when he rejected her latest apple. Since they already knew what the other was thinking, there was no need to talk about it. Even a good old-fashioned fight over the value of apples and pears would have been better than this.

This story has a happy ending. After all, Valentines are for lovers, and the most loving gift is to give what the receiver wants, not what the giver would like for himself. He took a risk. He put aside his assumptions and his pride. He asked her what she wanted.  He took a risk, and she took one in return. She told him honestly, and, of course, they lived lovingly ever after.

—M. LaCourt

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