Loving All of Your Valentine’s Special Quirks | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Loving All of Your Valentine's Special Quirks

Writer Alene Frost is close to someone who's a bit nerdy. But that only makes her love him all the more. She shares a story for her special Valentine.

The best Valentines Day gift I ever gave my husband began when the phone rang on February 14th three years ago. It was Martin, who's been cutting the remains of my husband's hair for 25 years.

Martin asked when he could deliver the chair. The barber chair.

I knew nothing about any barber chair. But I knew enough about my husband to suspect that Martin had not dialed the wrong number.

Some husbands bring dinner home. Some husbands bring flowers. My husband brings random acquisitions. Wisely, he gives me little notice about their arrival. There was the day he appeared at home with orange-welded stadium seats from the old Soldier Field. Frantically he searched for a spot for them in our two-story home. It was raining and he was afraid to leave them outside. The fact that they'd been sitting out in the rain for the past 50 years apparently hadn't dawned on him.

There's also the faux theater popcorn machine that sits under the basement stairs, a functioning pay telephone on the paneled wall, a pink cotton candy machine and a stuffed life sized tuxedoed Bugs Bunny sitting on the couch. He bought Bugs Bunny at a charity auction when he was supposed to be bidding on a romantic weekend getaway.

But this time…with the barber chair…I was ready.

When he got home, I asked if he had a new career.

He laughed, then tried to convince me what a great conversation piece it would be. In the basement. Where he had visions of our friends wanting to takes rides on it.

Then grabbing an apple from the fridge, he smiled at me—that same smile I fell in love with the first time he kissed me in 1972. We were high school sweethearts and I was standing on the olive green shag-carpeted staircase in my family's Highland Park home. He was wearing cut-off Levis and a John Lennon tee shirt, and he held a gumball machine ring behind his back. We married in 1977, filled our home with children, dogs, my textbooks and his stuff. He asked if he could keep the chair. It was Valentine's Day after all. He artfully kissed my cheek, successfully closing the deal.

A few weeks later on a balmy spring morning, Martin delivered the chair that he had stuffed into his Honda. My husband bounded out the door in an old fraternity tee shirt and his favorite Zuba tiger striped sweat pants. He and Martin set the chair carefully on our winding cobbled front walk as though it were a Rembrandt. There it sat, everything but the striped pole. Grinning, my husband adjusted himself on the circa 1980 black vinyl, gave himself a ride. Our neighbor drove by, slowed as he passed.

I stood there, thinking of Barry Goldman, the sensible boy who wanted to marry me.

The barber chair remained on our front walk until dusk. My husband finally carried it inside to the basement stairs. It wouldn't fit, so he had to bounce it down. He's certain it will never make its way back up the stairs.

Maybe someday a barber will buy our house. But for now my high school sweetheart, who still kisses as tenderly as he did nearly 40 years ago, might be found on any Sunday morning reading the paper in his favorite chair. And for this Valentine's Day, can you keep a secret? I've bought him the striped pole.

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