40. Toilet Paper for Valentine’s Day

40. Toilet Paper for Valentine’s Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


Toilet Paper for Valentine’s Day

I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.

~Author Unknown

I had recently moved from the cozy, tree-covered hills of western Pennsylvania to the rather stark flatlands of the Midwest. My heart told me it was the right thing to do, but my mind was rebelling against the statistical improbability of a relationship working out. A rather harsh winter brewed as I moved into my boyfriend’s rented house, started a new job, and began to settle into a new life and surroundings.

Valentine’s Day snuck up after only a couple of weeks. Since I worked at an office with all women, starting early in the morning, bouquets were delivered with their subsequent oohs and aahs. Finally, midday arrived, and I could sense the unspoken sympathy of my new coworkers who noticed the distinct absence of flowers on my desk. I tried not to notice their looks, and not being a huge fan of the holiday anyway, I quietly worked at my desk.

During my lunch break, my boyfriend and I ate together at our house. Although I tried to be nonchalant, he could tell that something was bothering me, so I finally spilled the reason for my rather unsubtle sullenness. He immediately expressed remorse for not giving gifts to me sooner, explaining that he had planned to celebrate after work when we had more time. Shamefaced, I said that I completely understood, but John had already scurried to get the stash of presents, asking me to close my eyes as he arranged them with care on the table. With his permission, I opened my eyes to see an odd assortment of unwrapped items, including… a large package of toilet paper!

Although I had taken some acting classes in my undergraduate days, nothing in my amateur training prepared me to mask the initial shock of receiving toilet paper for Valentine’s Day. The other humble gifts on the table, such as a plain shower curtain, sat dwarfed by the tower of “ultra-soft.” However, after I recovered a bit, I realized that here in front of me was the first person to actually listen and respond to my every little gripe. Having been accustomed to any minor (or major, for that matter) problems being ignored by a former husband, I assumed John hadn’t even heard me comment that his bachelor pad was stocked with noticeably thin, rough bathroom tissue and that the faded, mildewed shower curtain could use a biohazard warning. In fact, I, myself, had forgotten that I verbalized any complaints. Yet, not only had John truly listened to me, he actually remembered and purposefully remedied each irritation.

We were married later that year, and we recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary where we now live in upstate New York. To this day, I have only received one bouquet of flowers from John, but I have never, ever had to remind him to take out the trash or mow the lawn. If I happen to mention any household problem or inconvenience, sure enough, it will be fixed within a week, if not the same day. If I warn him about our icy driveway in the winter, he’ll want to buy ice cleats for me. If I remark on a doorknob not working properly, one will be bought and installed before I can blink. A casual comment about someday wanting a web camera to “visit” with my family resulted in him purchasing one the very next day.

In fact, to the chagrin of other women I know, I have the opposite problem of motivating my husband to do chores. Instead, I often find myself attempting to convince John to postpone his fixer-upper plans and to simply relax in front of the television. So, I will happily forego bouquets of flowers, being eternally grateful for a wonderful husband who actually listens and truly cares.

~Meghan Beeby

More stories from our partners