Even the greasiest, most hungover, least-skilled newspaper columnist loves to discover that his/her next column will run on a holiday.
With a subject resented in a beautifully wrapped box, the columnist sets to work.
The release date for this column is Valentine's Day.
As it happens, there is a tale of peril associated with this Valentine's Day.
First of all, I love my wife. This should make Valentine's Day easier, but it does not. There is nothing easier than buying presents for someone you don't love.
In my single days, I was a big fan of Valentine's Day roses. I'd send a dozen, and I'd send them to her job. Always send flowers to her job. You want the other women in the office to see she got roses from her boyfriend. More importantly, she wants the other women in her office to see that she got roses from her boyfriend. In particular, she wants Carla in accounting to see that she got roses from her boyfriend. This is because she hates Carla very much.
The women I dated usually said it was "sweet" of me to send flowers to their office.
In fact, it wasn't "sweet" at all. It was easy, is what it was. All I had to do was call the florist, order a dozen roses, mumble a credit card number, give an address and call it done.
For my wife, more effort is required.
I do almost all of my shopping online, mostly because you can shop online with your shoes off. A couple weeks before Valentine's Day, I found a lovely teacup. She collects teacups. Best of all, teacups aren't sold by size, so I didn't have to remember if she's a "small" or a "petite." I ordered the teacup on my smartphone, while sitting in a diner eating a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, something else they don't offer in most stores.
And it's not here yet.
Oh, I ordered it in plenty of time, but it's not here. It's Wednesday night. Tuesday, I panicked, and not just because the Democrats can't find a front-runner I'd sit next to on a bus.
It was all right, though. I went to a store.
If it wasn't for saloons and diners, I'd have forgotten how to navigate the in-person retail transaction. Fortunately, both still require me to give money or plastic to a living person. If you can order a shot and a beer, you can navigate Target.
The worst thing about the whole situation was that I'd bought myself a sweater online that was slated to arrive the day before Valentine's Day. I did not want to be the husband whose new striped cardigan arrived the day before the Valentine's Day his wife's present didn't show up.
I had to keep my shoes on in Target (I asked), but there's a Starbucks inside, and they don't care if you carry your coffee around the store while you shop (I asked.)
It wasn't hard. Sweater, black. Necklace, brightly colored. I took a while picking them out, too.
Roses are easy. Love is hard.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a loving ramble through pre-fascist America, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Kindle, GooglePlay and iBooks.