I think it's a British thing - like near the end of "Bridget Jones' Diary," when Bridget's mom (Gemma Jones) returns home after her fling with the orange-skinned TV shopping network huckster, and Bridget's dad (the wonderful Jim Broadbent) lovingly refers to her as a "daft cow." It's a sweet moment because he says it so endearingly.
At least, that's how I take it, and how I know my husband means it.
I, on the other hand, have no problem making jokes about my husband's lack of hair. In fact, the fact that he's so very bald is something that amuses our daughter to no end. The fact that he laughs right along with us is one of his better qualities.
That is not to say that my husband has no vanity -- he just hasn't any hangups about losing his hair by the time he was 23. You can make all the bald jokes you want, and he'll join right in. Just don't tell him he looks old. (For the record, he just turned 50, which makes him 5.5 years younger than I).
Anyway -- I don't expect much of anything on Valentine's Day. At our age, romance means being careful not to fart in each other's presence. (OK, we're not that bad -- not quite.)
Still: We don't do expensive gifts, having to manage my weight means I no longer get to enjoy champagne or chocolate, and my husband's veganism is incompatible with my low-carb diet, which means I'm not going to be cooking any romantic dinners for two. (Not to mention the fact that we have a teenager in the house. There's a romance killer for you!)
On Saturday, I needed to run some errands that included a stop at Topanga Plaza mall at lunchtime -- and I invited the husband to meet me there. I didn't realize there would be a huge, pink, heart-studded lounge area below the food court, right next to the Sony Store. Stores had set up stations within the space to market everything from jewelry to perfume to manicures and massages.
It looked like a party. They were even serving what looked like champagne. I tried to pretend I wasn't fascinated.
"Pretty clever of me to get your dad to a shopping center just before the 14th," I chuckled to my daughter. "I bet you he has no idea Tuesday is Valentine's Day."
He did not - which means we're a couple of days ahead of his usual habit of remembering on the 14th, and only because of the guys selling flowers on the freeway offramp.
In the end, the most romantic thing we do is be there for one another -- which we are, and have been for almost 23 years.
(Note to spouse: This does not mean you shouldn't buy me the flowers, if you are so moved. Just avoid the overpriced roses.)