By Sheila Appleby Williams

“So, are you looking forward to Valentine’s Day?”,  the too perky, too buffed checkout guy at the local Trader Joes market asked me, while manhandling my gluten free quinoa and flaxseed bread.

“What?”  I was trying to figure out how the hell did three bags of groceries (which will be gone in three days) total $125.

“Big plans for Valentines Day?” He just couldn’t let it alone.  And now there was an audience of 3 women in line behind me, waiting for my answer.  Why didn’t they have trashy celebrity magazines at the checkout counter like they do at regular super markets?  Let the customers read about Angelina and Brad (I wonder what she’s getting for Valentines Day?) instead of listening to this guy interrogating a 50ish woman in faded, worn sweats, slightly greasy ponytail and Planet Hollywood (hey, it might be a collectors item one day) baseball cap.

Does the manager know that your asking your female customers this question? I asked in an empowered (I hoped) and not defensive tone.

“I am the manger”, he replied, jauntily tossing the cans of fat free black beans on top of the formerly unbruised organic vine ripened tomatoes.

What kind of question is that? (I couldn’t back down now that I had spectators).  Are you going to also ask me my age and weight?
Now I was on a roll. ”What if I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend?” ”What if I’m planning on sitting alone and eating a quart of hagen daz and drinking?”

He was completely oblivious to my illustrating how insensitive his question was and arrogantly boasted: ”Everyday is Valentine’s Day at my house.”  Now, I hated this guy.  ”Well, I’ll have to call your wife to find out about that.”  Snappy come back, if I do say so myself.  I might be down, but just like the underdog wrestler presumed down for the count, I was getting back up.  ”Oh,  yeah”, he brazenly continued, I took her on a 9 mile bike ride this morning.” ”She did pretty darn good.”  Now, I was getting the picture- this neanderthal guy was all pumped up on a seratonin high from his bike riding marathon. Why couldn’t he do yoga or meditate or drink kava kava and chill like civilized people in LA.

Muttering ”whatever” (hey its effective when my daughter says it), I pushed the shopping cart out to my car (no, I don’t need any help thanks), loaded up the trunk and realized that he forgot to get me the 24 sportspack bottled water (on no, I was not going back in for round 2). So now, not only would I be thinking about Valentines Day but I’d be dehydrated.

Look, I honestly don’t give a you know what about Valentines Day. Even when I was married, remarried, in ”relationships”- it was always a disappointment.  The perfunctory card, box of Russell Stover chocolates (actually not that bad), waxy ”assorted” garish  flower arrangements from the market, (why can’t they at least hire gay guys in the flower department?

Just to get the record straight.  I am a middle aged single woman who realized a long time ago that in order to get what you want- you have to buy it yourself.  I also intellectually know that its just a commercial media exploited day that pressures most men into buying predictable, obligated uninspired tokens of affection.

But there’s still that part of me, that Turner classic movie fantasy of opening the apartment door to a living room full of long stem roses, rose petals leading to a luxurious bubble bath and champagne to be sipped while (fill in the blank) music plays softly in the background.  A day of unexpected romantic, inspired extravagance and indulgence, ”Look out the window honey.” ”I hope you like (name your favorite car) in red!”

Who knows, maybe next year I might have big plans for Valentines Day, but until that time- Valentines Day, bah humbug!

Sheila Appleby Williams is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles with her pug, Phoebe Rose.