Sunday, 14 February 2016

Taking Valentine's back from Hallmark

View from the interior of Afterwords bookstore on a snowy afternoon.

After our first date, when I find out she has a boyfriend (or, as she explains, an ex-boyfriend who is not yet completely out of the picture), I sign off gallantly in an e-mail, “I am at your disposal.”

Except what I’ve written is “I am your disposal.”

There, that was my obligatory nod to Valentine's Day.  And for the record that was a quote from a memoir titled, The Diaries of Pussy-Cake by Gary Shteyngart.  This year I was determined not to let Valentine's Day devolve into a dutiful Hallmark moment.  There have just been too many near misses in my life lately to not be more mindful. 

I'll give you two examples.  Like a lot of other pedestrians in the City of St. John's I recently made a rather dramatic face-plant on the icy sidewalks.  One of my friends has been laid up for weeks with a leg broken in three places.  Luckily for me as I lay on my face, groceries askew wondering what was the safest way to try and get up, I feel a pair of strong arms pick me up.  A kind stranger drove me home, which almost sounds like a Hallmark Valentine card–this second example won't.  I was walking home across downtown when I encountered a tight knot of emergency vehicles and crime scene tape.  Apparently, a drunk driver had lost control, took down a power pole and struck two pedestrians.

Despite the snowstorm, TBS raised $8,055.70.

So, I decided to sidestep the customary this year and make a determined effort to give in meaningful ways this Valentine's.  My community made it easy.  On Saturday the 13th, I went down to my favourite tattoo establishment, Trouble Bound Studio, where boss man Dave Munro and his crew of talented artists annually donate their time around Valentine's in order to raise money for Daffodil Place, which supports families undergoing cancer treatment.  I made a cash donation and as soon as my glasses had unfogged and I collected a hug I was on to my next destination.

At Gower Street United Church there was a fundraiser in full swing to benefit a Syrian refugee family.  The Atlantic String Quartet was on stage playing a tango ripe with attitude, silent auction tables dripped with certificates for services and goods, raffle tickets were being snapped up with the prize catch being a pair of West Jet tickets for anywhere the airline flew.  Friends too organized this event.  I caught Flower Hill's soulful set, felt good about leaving a donation and limiting myself to only one very large cookie.  Then a whopper of a snowstorm rolled into town and I trudged home.

The snow was blinding but I still could make out the bundled shape of Andy Jones, whom I congratulated on his performance as Habib, which I caught during a matinee last week.   I decided on Sunday to help my neighbours dig-out and received more hugs. While thigh-high in snow I learned from Amy House that the Saturday snow forced the LSPU Hall to cancel a sold-out performance.  Mother Nature willing audiences will be lucky tonight.

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