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rubber cement painting reverse plaid
Arts and Entertainment Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 6 years ago

An ode to rubber cement and handmade Valentines

by: Mallory Gnaegy A&E Editor

Valentine’s Day reminds me of sniffing rubber cement. Every Valentine’s Day since I can remember, I’ve always hand made cards for my parents, grandparents and a select few friends. Rubber cement was my weapon of choice (it's also great for fake booger-making and taking big brain-cell-killing whiffs). When my sister and I lived in the same house (back when I was rockin’ a turtleneck and stirrup pants), it was our ritual. We made them the first year she moved to Sarasota, too.

And now that we're adults, these ain’t no amateur’s cards — I’m talking intricately cut doilies, layers of paper and Martha-Stewart-could-learn-from-us lettering. We’ve been told we should go pro — a compliment that reassures me the recipients feel loved. That’s why I do it — it’s fun to spoil the hell out of the loved ones in my life.


I gave my guy friends Valentines one year in college. They all kept them for at least a year. One even made it to the refrigerator, where it stayed for two. People who saw them asked about the girl who made such a beautiful card — it was me. The new women in their lives try to outdo the best card they ever received — it was from me. Every year, these guy friends wonder, "Will Mal send me a card this year? Does she still love me?" Yes, but I don’t have time for you this year. Is it selfish of me? Yeah, but that’s love, man. I’m just being honest.

I’ve realized that Valentine’s Day isn’t the greatest holiday ever, nor does it suck. I really enjoy making and sending Valentines, even if I don’t get anything in return. But these days, Valentine’s Day is just another day. I’m going to celebrate it the same way I will President’s Day. Because if I had time to make you a Valentine this year, I would've used it to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Or do my ever-growing pile of laundry. Or hit the gym. There’s never enough time, and there’s so much pressure involved. Here’s what my February looked like this year:

Feb. 1 — Get excited thinking about creating the best Valentine’s Day cards known to man and draft a list of 50 people whose minds I will absolutely blow like a nuclear explosion of glitter and heart confetti.

Feb. 7 — Cross 45 people off my list.

Feb. 9 — Realize I haven’t done anything yet. I start thinking about my poor Grandpa walking his way down to the mailbox, excited for the exuberant amounts of paper hearts and ribbon he's come to expect every year. He opens it, and there’s nothing. He puts his head in the mailbox just to double check. He’s devastated. It’s his favorite day of the year because of my card. And now I'm the least favorite granddaughter. Mallory who? I gotta get my act together.


Feb. 10 — Okay, if I pull an all nighter making them and mail them in the morning, they’ll make it on time. But I've got more pressing matters — this wine isn't going to drink itself.

Feb. 12 — Still haven't gone to Michael’s, which is probably good, because $100 is a low-budget Valentine’s Day. And I’m workin’ with two pennies this year. I also need to get stamps. Maybe I can just wish them happy belated Valentine’s Day and send them late.

Feb. 14 — I regret to inform my loved ones that they will not be receiving cards. Please still remember my name by Christmas.

Yeah. It’s exhausting just thinking about it — that’s just part of Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a relationship, there’s all the expectations. It’s like spending all your money on a present for your boyfriend and telling him exactly what you got him two weeks in advance, only to learn he didn't even make dinner reservations. The bastard didn’t know you’d be happy with a bouquet of bacon roses and a trip to Red Box. Or so I've heard. From a friend.

Or, if you aren’t in a relationship, you have a Galentine’s Day (as Amy Poehler coined), which involves letting out your pent up angst by drinking a bottle of wine, five Dirty Shirlies and too much champagne, then puking all over yourself in a sight as beautifully triumphant as the Valentine’s Day Massacre (look it up). Again, all hearsay. Either way — it’s not fun. I’d rather just watch horror movies and snuggle with my dog like I did on President’s Day.

So I’ll declare a big pass on V-Day this year. I’m checking this round. I get this need to spoil people from my mom, which is fortunate for me, because she sent me a box of cookies, which I already consumed. Plus, the accompanying card said she’ll always love me, so if I don’t send my parents one again this year, it’ll be okay. Right?

And to get over my extreme case of guilt for not sending anyone anything, I’m going to bust open my neglected bottle of rubber cement and take a big sniff, just to remember old times forgotten. What’s my name? Mallory? Yeah — it’s going to be a good Valentine’s Day.

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