Every year, as 14 February approaches, it is the same old story. The city is transformed. Combo packs of champagne and glasses, red roses and heart-shaped chocolates emerge... How does your better half feel about all of this? Happy? A fictional story.
7.15 a.m. The alarm goes off. First, get the kids up. Turn their bedroom upside down to find some clothes that they like, fight to make sure that they do not have toast covered in two types of jam and dunked in a bowl of chocolate and cream for breakfast, look for their toothbrushes - at least I found the wrench in the process! - sign their reports on the way to school, drop them off, and relax...
8.45 a.m. Back home due to remote-working rules. Switch on the radio and realise that it's Valentine's Day! No need to panic. Dinner is still a long way off. But discretion is a must. My other half is also working from home. Off to the bathroom for some peace and quiet. Well, almost. “Ding!” - a calendar reminder. Start of a Zoom meeting. “Hello. How are you? Shall we begin? But where are you?” ---
12.30 No more meetings. Time for some lunch. “Sweetie, shall we eat? (a very long silence) I’ll look after lunch!” Make a quick exit to find something. But what?! A florist’s. That could do the trick. It would mean queuing for a while. “Hello. Could I have your order number? - Sorry? - Due to lockdown, we're running a click-and-collect service.” Return home without any flowers or food. Well, almost. This bakery is the solution. “Here, darling, I got you a ‘Parisien’: a ham sandwich as the ham is pink like roses (a very long silence).”
2.00 p.m. Back to remote working. One briefing session follows another. A bit of admin for good measure. And what is the purpose of all of this? Idea: what about those classy restaurants that are now doing deliveries? Stop everything! Quickly return to the bathroom for some time on the Internet. Browse through various sites. The penny drops: I should have ordered in advance! “Damn! - Are you OK? - Yes, fine...” The pressure builds. Break out into a sweat. No other choice. I’m going to have to go for broke and cook.
4.00 p.m. Black screen. Switch off the camera in Zoom. Look for special Valentine’s Day recipes on the Internet. “The day before...” - not possible. “In a browning skillet...” - what is that supposed to be? “Emulsify, then set aside.” “Using a chinois...”, “15 g of egg yolk” - It's all Greek to me! More swearing. “But, what are you doing in the bathroom? Are you sure that you are OK? - I told you that I am fine!” ---
5.45 p.m. Send an SOS to my parents. “Get some champagne!” Of course! Make a very quick exit. So as not to look like an idiot, call the shopkeeper on the way: “Tell me that you are not only doing click and collect!
- No! However, I am closing in 10 minutes because of the lockdown!” Pick up the pace. Run and... make it just in time. “It's my last bottle and it’s for you!” Breathe deeply (into my mask). Remove my steamed-up glasses and walk into a piece of furniture. Drop the bottle and watch the champagne trickle away.
6.10 p.m. Back home, crushed. Open the main door. Bump into a heavily-laden delivery driver. Take the lift up with him. Realise that he is going to... my place. See my better half open the door. “You’re back! Thank you, have a good evening! - What’s this delivery? - You looked so busy. I ordered some nice ingredients so that we can cook our romantic dinner* together!” Kiss (very long silence)...