My Loyal Valentine

The Staff of Make it Missoula asked our Bloggers to chime-in for Valentine’s Day. We hope you’ll find of each of them inspiring in their own unique way. Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day Contest. In 25 words or less, tell us of your most memorable Missoula Valentine and you’ll be entered into a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to The Red Bird Restaurant.

By VERINA PALMER MARTIN

I love Valentine’s Day. I always have – even when I wasn’t in love, even when my love was unrequited, even if I got the now-infamous skunk valentine. Because, without the hope of love, I’d have been, well, hopeless!

Back in high school, I had a lot of crushes and most of them never ever knew I existed, which is why they were so crushing. I also had a lot of guy friends, and once in a while I confused the two. Like the day in 1979 when I met a tall, gangly, and rather pale boy with classic feathered back hair that was just a bit too perfect.

He tossed his head back when he laughed, sort of a grunting chuckle, and drove a ’69 Pontiac LeMans we called the Purple Pig. He also could type 100 words a minute on a Selectric typewriter, which was nice. Hey, I was easily impressed. I thought he was just about the cutest thing ever. He thought I was his bestest buddy.

Ah, but this is not my epic tale of passion with that silly, skinny, teenaged boy who took a decade to realize he was destined to be my husband. This isn’t about a man who after 20 years is still so romantic that he makes waitresses, store clerks, and other random strangers swoon. Other husbands threaten to take away his man-card for constantly making them all look bad in comparison. Even our kids roll their eyes at us and yell, “Get a room!”

Yes, people, I do know I am a lucky girl!

On this Valentine’s Day, however, I decided to write about my love story with a different man who, for the past 31 years, without fail, has been my very special valentine. Back in high school, he declared that this Hallmark holiday of hearts and flowers should forever be “V” Day. My day. And for that reason alone it has always beenspecial.

In our younger years, we exchanged valentines with juicy red lips or red stiletto shoes and racy little messages in our own little code language. Honestly, I looked more forward to that hot little card than any romantic rendezvous. As we got older and mellower, so did the valentines, but the message of love and friendship remains the same.

As my favorite dance partner throughout the college years, we had a standing agreement to be each other’s date rather than fly solo at social functions so we were guaranteed to have fun at an otherwise awkward event. He was my rock, my shoulder to cry on, during years of struggling to get through school and figure out my direction in life. He made me laugh when I wanted to cry, and he made me laugh until I cried.

I was a basket case without him when he worked overseas for a year, but he was only a dial tone away.   Time and again, even after we’d both moved away from Montana and he’d moved permanently to Europe, my phone would ring in the middle of the night when I was depressed or overwhelmed, or if I just plain missed him. Many times his first two words were, “What’s wrong?”

We have an unexplainable connection that transcends time and space. For three decades, whether he’s been across town, across the country, or across the world, he’s always just known. You might say he’s been my Emotional Gigolo (not to be confused with the American Gigolo and that whole male hooker thing). But you could say our lifelong motto has been, “Call me!”

Although this supreme relationship created friction with some of my less-evolved romantic interests over the years, I made it clear they had to understand it and get over it or get out. One ex-boyfriend, who I’d thought never had a problem with this, called me up out of blue just weeks before my wedding in 1991. I told him I was getting married, and that my valentine would stand up for us as Best Man. This was only fitting, since he’s also my husband’s best friend.

“You know, he’s the only guy I’ve ever been jealous of,” the Ex said, “because he has a part of your heart no one else will ever touch.”

Touché.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to the sweetest, funniest, most loyal valentine a girl could want. Thanks for being in my heart and keeping me in yours. I hope to see you soon, and when I do, I have one question:

“Will you come wis me to zi Casbah?”

Back to Verina’s home blog page.

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Verina Palmer Martin is a Missoula native who fled town in 1986 in search of truth and eternal sunshine, which led to a  longtime newspaper career in Arizona. She’s happily married to a Montana boy who tracked her down 20 years ago, and he still makes her laugh like he did in high school. She blames the UM School of Journalism for her addiction to news ink and ridiculously high journalisticethics.