The Valentine Reciprocity Deficiency

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. In the past, we made a fairly big deal of the occasion, since our first date was supposed to be for a Valentine’s dance at our high school. The dance was canceled, but we still went out on February 13, 1982.

The last 5-10 years, though, we haven’t really done much. This is fine with me, as I’m not really a holiday person. Last year, we adopted Oliver on February 13, so our first-date-anniversary has now been usurped and shall ever after be known as Oliver’s gotcha day.

Last year’s Valentine

While we don’t officially make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, Tom doesn’t always uphold this unspoken agreement. Or maybe it’s spoken, a little, when I say, “I’m not getting you anything. Don’t get me anything. It’s just a day.” I’m either very low-maintenance about holidays, or a terrible wife.

According to Time Hop, three years ago, Tom violated this agreement thusly:


If you know me at all, you’ll see how well my husband gets me. I do love all things zombie apocalypse, and I definitely love chocolate. And distilled beverages. I even wrote two zombie apocalypse books, The Dead Survive and Fallback, and you should absolutely read them if you’re into that sort of thing.

I still have the bottle. The vodka undoubtedly didn’t survive the weekend. Valentine’s Day was on Saturday.

This year, he did this:


Let’s break down the elements.

  • Heart-shaped bowl and tray. Very cute.
  • Nice, sweet card. No puppy-butt, but still a winner.
  • “Love” decorative accent. Deciding where it will go.
  • Note the bowl is filled with Kisses (classic) and a stuffed elephant. I love elephants, and have elephant artwork in the house, and an elephant tattoo on my right forearm. Bonus points because it looks like the elephant is taking a bubble bath in candy.
  • It’s hard to see, but those caramel M&Ms (a recent discovery and new favorite) are in a skull mug. Along with zombies, I like skulls. Because I’m quirky. Not strange. No, not strange at all. I have several skull bottles which formerly held liquor. (RIP, liquor. Your sacrifice was not in vain)


Every girl has three pairs of skull leggings, right?

All very thoughtful, yes? It’s especially generous when you factor in the fact that Tom is being quite careful about his eating habits, including not having a lot of sugary snacks. Which means I will need to hide the chocolate and give him a few pieces in the evening, so he can enjoy a treat without the temptation of over-snacking.

This probably sounds strange, one spouse monitoring and rationing something in which the other might tend to over-indulge. Until you know he also does the hide-ration thing for me, only in my case it is the liquor bottle.

Sometimes I find it, and those days do not go well, because I am mind-bogglingly bad at self-regulating in this particular area. If I locate the stash, the answer to “How much alcohol is in the house?” is “None, because Lori drank it.” But mostly, Tom is an extraordinarily good thing-hider, and he provides my evening nightcap ration, so I can chill and watch some mindless TV and try to get my head to slow the hell down enough that I can go to sleep.

Yes, I have a pretty awesome husband, still adorable even though this is our 37th Valentine’s Day together. However, I did maintain the “do nothing” policy for the occasion, and now I feel like Sheldon Cooper does about Christmas.

Sheldon: Oh, Penny. I know you think you’re being generous, but the Bigbangtheory_bathitemfoundation of gift-giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation.
Howard: Don’t feel bad, Penny, it’s a classic rookie mistake. My first Hanukkah with Sheldon, he yelled at me for eight nights.
Penny: Now, honey, it’s okay. You don’t have to get me anything in return.
Sheldon: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you’ve given me. It’s no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.

So, yeah. Also, I keep wondering what I’m going to do with that giant skull mug, and it occurs to me it would be pretty awesome if it was full of a massive dirty martini, but only moderately dirty, because I’m not a tramp.

And if it were full of martini, I’d probably feel a lot less bad about the gift reciprocity issue.

Knowing What You Don’t Know

On this date ten years ago, I posted this on Fermented Fur. At the time, I managed a holistic veterinary clinic, to give you a little context. I do need to ask Rachel about “the toilet and the sacrificial pen,” because I have no idea what that was all about.

Sometimes I realize all over again that I’m the smartest uneducated person I know. I just know stuff, but I don’t know how I know it. You know?


Yeah, so, anyway, I had a brain-deadening day at work. We had a planning meeting first thing in the morning. (Translation: Me and all three doctors sitting around for forty-five minutes trying to figure out creative new forms of torture to reinforce with our employees the consequences of not doing their damned jobs.) This was followed by a marketing meeting in which Dr. Vet-Friend One and I worked out a plan for our next “program launch,” including educational material, logistics, staff training, blah blah blah, resulting in a 74.9 % increase in my workload.

Eventually it became lunchish, and at 12:45 I clocked out so I could write my daily blog for you, my discerning, loyal readers! Six minutes later, my intercom interrupted my musings about the glory of the golden retriever and my fervent wish to have a tail. Seemed I was going to need to cover the front desk so my poor, overworked receptionist could get a break. We were short-staffed because one of our techs has a litter of bulldog puppies at home, and apparently you have to hand-feed them because mama bulldogs will smush them (not on purpose, probably), so she had to go home and tend to the little fuzzies.

If appointments hadn’t run late in the morning, I’d have still have had someone to listen for the phone while the receptionist went to stave off hypoglycemia. This was all fine. I did reception work all my adult life and am more than capable (and damned good at it, even though I hate it with a white-hot passion). What was not fine was that I didn’t learn of this situation until about three minutes before I had to go up there. I need time to prepare, plan, figure out when I will get to take my own break, and get stuff ready to take up there with me to work on. Or find a way out of it altogether. It was another hour before I got to take my own shortened break and hammer out my blog so I could get back to my lengthy to-do list.

Wow, this wasn’t supposed to be a work rant. In fact, I seem to recall saying in my Forbidden Topics blog that I wouldn’t discuss work. I should probably listen to myself more often. But not today.

I got home, and my lovely honey-bunny had dinner ready, and the dogs were already fed. The day was looking up (what was left of it). We settled in on our respective couches. He sits on the nice leather one, and I sit on the furry dog-friendly love seat known as the Sofur. My choice. I like to be where I can have canine company. I’m currently debating whether I need to cover the slip cover with a slip cover, because it’s getting totally gross, but it’s such a pain to get it off to wash it, and even more of a pain to get back on. Wrestling, tugging, stuffing, cramming, straps, buckles, safety pins, bleeding fingers, etc. Maybe we should just get a new love seat. Okay, worry about that later.

A story preview came on the TV, some bit that was going to be on the news later, about some people who threw their baby out the window of a burning building to save its life. The conversation that followed perfectly illustrated the gaps in my formal education.

Me: I wonder if there was someone down there to catch the baby. Or a net or something.

Tom: There had to be. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have just jumped out, too?

Me: Why would they jump out? (Picturing a pulverized parent, topped with a pair of intact arms clutching a very confused baby)

Tom: Couldn’t they just jump, then right before they hit the ground, toss the baby up in the air?

(I thought he was kidding, but now I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. Or maybe he really just wanted to test my science trivia knowledge.)

Me: What? No. It doesn’t work that way.

Tom: Why not?

Me: (Mentally flipping through notes from every science class I ever took, which apparently was at least one too few) I don’t know. It just doesn’t.

Tom: Yes, it does. It has to.

This troubles me, because it certainly seems as if it should work that way. I mean, there you are, a couple of feet from impact, but if you toss the baby in the air, wouldn’t that reverse its momentum, thereby either negating or lessening impending smushage? Acceleration of 32 feet per second per second. I remember that, but have no idea how it applies to this situation. Yet I know that it does not, in fact, work this way, though I have no evidence, no facts to cite, no ammunition with which to arm my argument.

Me: No, it doesn’t. Call The Boy. (The Boy is a science nerd, and totally knows everything about such things)

No move is made to call The Boy. We suspect he will think we are both idiots, and we will hear his eyes rolling from 25 miles away.

Me: (Thinking of an episode of Myth Busters) No, seriously, I know it doesn’t work that way. It’s like in an elevator when it’s crashing. You can’t just jump up right before it hits the bottom of the shaft. It doesn’t work. Otherwise nobody would ever die in elevator crashes.

At this point, I’m wondering if the same argument could be applied to plane crashes, because people clearly die in plane crashes all the time. I’m not sure there are all that many elevator crashes. I’m frustrated, because this is one of those things I know, but don’t know how I know it. It sure seems that if you toss the baby up right before you hit the ground, the baby wouldn’t hit the ground at terminal velocity. But I know there’s a clear scientific principle that explains why the baby would still end up a 10-pound maraca. Maybe if I hadn’t exhausted my daily allotment of brain function at work, I’d be able to figure this out.

About here is where the conversation fizzled out. I was thinking, “This is absurd. I can’t believe we’re having this discussion. Am I really this stupid? Why don’t I know this? This conversation reminds me of Rachel and Ryan and the toilet and the sacrificial pen. (Don’t ask.) Could be a good blog, though.”

I wandered over to my overworked laptop, which still hadn’t fully cooled down from giving its all today at work. I Googled “jump up before elevator crashes” and got a whole bunch of very detailed, informative hits, none of which I fully understood. There were calculations and formulas and such.

There was talk about how if the elevator is falling at 60 mph, you can’t jump up from a standing start at enough velocity to make any difference. And if you don’t time it perfectly, you will quickly regain any tiny fraction of momentum you lost by jumping.

One site said the best bet would be to get on top of another passenger, so they could cushion your fall. Preferably a person with a high body fat content. This sounded like a good plan to me, since I am quite brittle. They also pointed out that more people die falling down stairs each year (Yep. Stairs are treacherous, especially when the stair-user is tanked.) so we should all stop worrying about elevators.

By this time, I completely forgot what this had to do with babies and burning buildings. Frankly, I no longer care. I’m just annoyed that I, a semi-intelligent 43-year-old person, can’t organize simple facts about something that should be easy to explain. I’m still halfway tempted to call The Boy.

My plan is to avoid elevators which might be about to fall. I also suggest staying out of burning buildings, and if that is unavoidable, it’s probably better to throw your baby toward a dumpster or bush or waiting good Samaritan than to jump while holding the baby and try to calculate your velocity and how hard to throw the baby at which precise instant so it doesn’t end up looking like Flat Stanley. I am also in favor of avoiding stairs, given my recent troubles in that area. The earth is our mother, and we should endeavor to remain in close contact with her at all times.

However, I do have to get on a plane next week to go to Las Vegas. If it begins to crash, I will not attempt to save myself by jumping upward at the penultimate moment. Instead, I will decide that sobriety is highly overrated, and I will commandeer the drinky cart and consume as many of those teeny tiny bottles of liquor as possible before impact. If I’m going to be reduced to a fine grind or a smoldering hunk of charcoal, I’d rather be in the middle of an alcohol-induced blackout at the time.

We never did bother to watch the story about the baby and the burning building. I’m assuming it turned out fine, because the commentators didn’t use the word “tragedy” eighteen times in the preview. If it had been even remotely tragic, they’d have said it. A lot.

The real tragedy is that I can’t explain why tossing the baby in the air just before you hit the ground wouldn’t help.

But the most important thing of all is that we were not talking about it being a puppy in the burning building, because that would have freaked me out. What kind of puppy? How old? What’s his name? How high up was he? Who caught him? Was he scared? Was he hurt? Is he okay? Did he have smoke inhalation?

Of course if it had been a dog, he would have alerted his family before the fire got out of control, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.


A Long Time Ago, In A High School Far, Far Away

I have a two-fer for you today! February 4 is a very significant day in the canon of Tom and Lori Lore, and ten years ago I commemorated it on Fermented Fur. The following is that recycled (upcycled? repurposed?) post, somewhat edited to include current timeline and removing some of the over-sharing parts because apparently at some point in the last ten years I developed a semi-functional filter.

Today marks the 36th anniversary of when Tom asked me out for our first date. (Pause for applause.)

Where: Our small Catholic high school in northern West Virginia

When: February 4, 1982

Who: Two 17-year-olds, one a junior (me), one a senior (Tom)

Why: Hormones or Fate…maybe both


Bishop Donahue High School, where it all began. Sadly, BDHS closed at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

I’d recently broken up with a guy I’d been dating for a few months. Going out with him at all had been a stupendously bad idea, but my first real heartbreak had happened in September, and I was clearly not thinking straight. My mom hated him, and my mom never hated anybody.

Basically, The Creep (my mother’s pet name for him) was just the most recent in a long series of examples of my bad judgment. Something about that last experience finally began to penetrate my thick teenage skull, and it dawned on me that I needed to look at who I actually liked, not whoever was currently available on the high school “most eligible guys” list. You’d think something like that should be obvious, but very little is obvious when you’re a teenage girl.

I was odd in high school. Still am, but in a more specific way. While I got along with nearly everybody (except girls a year or two older than I was, who all hated me for some reason), I wasn’t particularly popular in a “prom queen” sort of way, due to the fact that I didn’t like to go out and socialize with everyone on the weekends. I guess you could say I was pretty, smart, and popular, but not the prettiest, smartest, or most popular.

Everybody liked Tom. He was every guy’s buddy, every girl’s “sweet guy friend,” a good athlete, and just insane enough to always be the one doing something goofy to bolster team spirit. (Ah, the genius of a tether ball with eye holes cut out and worn on one’s head at a pep rally!)

I’d been spending a fair amount of time hanging out with him and a small group of mutual friends at basketball games, mainly to heckle the officials and torment the visiting team. Then, after I’d finally split with The Creep, I was talking to some friends and said, “Hey, know who I’d really like to go out with?” Tom. This revelation was met with universal approval, and the wheels were set in motion.

Tom and two of his friends had taken to riding along on the girls’ volleyball bus, because his best friend’s girlfriend was on the team and he was insanely jealous. They served as the equipment guys and statisticians, to give them a legitimate reason to be there. My friend Suzy, who was also Tom’s friend and a volleyball player, told him on the bus one day that I wanted to go out with him. A typical high school conversation ensued.

“Lori wants you to ask her out.”

“Nuh-uh. You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m serious. She told me yesterday in algebra.”

“She wouldn’t go out with me.”

“Yes, she would, you dumbass. Ask her!”

“You’re just messing with me.”

And so on.

Finally, Suzy persuaded him that she wouldn’t jerk him around about something as critical as asking a girl out for the first time. Suzy was a very determined girl, and Tom never really stood a chance. Plus, he totally wanted to ask me out.

But it’s never really that simple, is it? Such a momentous occasion requires just the right setting. Namely, he needed me to not be in the middle of a group of girls between classes so he could ask me. He tells me this took a few days. At long last, I was alone, and a very nervous boy approached. He asked me to go to the Valentine’s dance, which was scheduled for February 13. I said (and this is an exact quote), “Sure. We’ll have fun.” He agonized for days over that? He’s just so damned cute!

I don’t think most people knew what to make of our couplehood. On the surface, we seemed like a very odd match. He was so friendly, outgoing, popular, everybody’s friend. I was quieter, had had several questionable boyfriends, was a bit of an outsider (one of the bathroom smokers, actually), and often overlooked by the guys, or despised by jealous older girls who didn’t bother to get to know me.

We went out on an unofficial date that weekend, after a basketball game. We went to Pizza Inn, despite the fact that I’d already been out for pizza before the game. When you’re a teenager, there is no such thing as too much pizza.

The next basketball game after that, we held hands, and I wore his letterman’s jacket. How adorable is that?

I mentioned this was a small Catholic high school. We had fewer than 200 students, which resulted in not enough tickets being sold for the Valentine’s dance, and it was canceled. My new sweetie announced that we were still going out, and he named a very nice (for the area) restaurant. I was a little freaked. That was kind of a lot of pressure for a first date. Plus, we would be double dating with his best friend and his girlfriend.

The night arrived. I wore light brown pleated dress pants, a brown and cream plaid short-sleeve blouse, and a cream-colored corduroy blazer. I also burgled my mom’s diamond cluster ring to wear. I have no idea what he wore. It was 1982, and February, so I’m thinking something velour, shirt-wise.

They picked me up, and he presented me with a large stuffed Smurf (which I still have), and a funny but perhaps slightly inappropriate card (which I also still have). There might have also been a bottle of illegally-purchased Riunite wine, but if that happened–and I’m neither confirming nor denying–one can assume it did not survive the evening.


This is what a 36-year-old Smurf looks like. He needs a bath, but I’m afraid he’d disintegrate. Also, he’s probably stuffed with asbestos dipped in lead paint.

The evening was an odd one. The nice restaurant, in a hillbilly-like attempt at culture, had a belly dancer performing, dancing and gyrating and finger-cymbal-ringing among the tables. I am not even joking. This, naturally, led to our date-partners having a huge fight. Tom and I, however, got along great. Our evening ended with some very fun smooching on my couch.

His female friends didn’t know what he saw in me. His male friends figured they knew what he saw in me, but most were smart enough not to say so out loud. But what nobody really understood was that although we might have appeared mismatched, there was something between us that was beyond high school comprehension.


Seriously, how adorable were we?

I knew I’d found something special. I’m glad I was at the right point in my evolution to see that, before someone else snatched him up. Here was this adorable guy, pretty blond feathered hair, sparkly blue eyes, and yummy muscles. He was sweet, kind, and funny, and liked by everyone he met. He treated me like a princess, spoiled me rotten, and he had the cutest bouncy strut when he was walking along, holding my hand. After dating guys who never stopped keeping one eye open for someone higher up on the high school popularity food chain, he saw only me.

And that was the beginning. The next weekend, I got his class key and class ring. We went to the prom. He went on vacation with my family that summer. This was followed by a pre-engagement ring that Christmas, and a wedding ring the next September.

Thirty-six years ago today. Wow. We’ll celebrate our 35th anniversary this September. Has it always been easy? Hell, no. I am still an idiot, and he is still the strong, wonderful man who pulls me through it and reminds me what I should be, and what we are together.

For a stupid 17-year-old, I sure did one thing totally right.