I had that look on my face, the one that, translated, says, "Go ahead. Ask me what I'm thinking."
The look got no anticipated response at all from Better Half, so I forged ahead anyway and popped the traditional end-of-January question.
No way would I just let it slide.
"Do you know what time it is?" I asked Better Half, my voice full of musical mirthfulness.
Startled, even a bit scared at the prospect of all the negative ramifications that such an inquiry could entail - from surprise visitors to grimace-generating honey-do lists - Better Half shook his head like a doomed soul off walking the green mile.
"I give up," he said, defeat evident in his voice.
And laughed some more.
A sinister laugh, no less.
"It's time for you to think about Valentine's Day!" I gushed with gusto.
There was a lingering stretch of silence, then an "Ohhhh!" from Better Half, a kind of "Ohhhh" I've-forgotten-something-important sort of "Ohhhh!"
But then again it was an "Ohhhh!" that was more of a mix between sweet relief and great regret.
The relief is that it wasn't something worse, say a potential painting project or a traumatizing trip I had planned for him to take me somewhere he would have absolutely no interest in going.
The regret is that there's Valentine's Day angst in the fishbowl world of being the Significant Other of a Sunday columnist with space to fill here week after week after week.
E-gads. You should have heard the guy sigh.
The noise was courtesy of the deadline pressure to keep holiday tradition alive and play Mr. Creative Cupid.
It's a tough act to follow, year after year, considering what he's done for me in years past on Feb. 14, this clever man of mine.
One year it was a broom because I "swept" him off his feet.
Another year it was not one, but two shovels because he "double digs" me.
There was the coffeepot year, a reminder that our union is "grounds" for happiness and a love ever "brewing."
And let's not forget the electric pencil sharpener. It makes the "point" that we are, after all, two legs on an alligator, two bumps on a log, peas and carrots.
Me? I get him some bread from Steubenville Bakery so I don't spend much "dough" or wrap a can of cashews because I'm "nuts" about him.
Sadly, we couldn't remember what Better Half did last year for Valentine's Day until I rustled up a copy of my column from 2012.
Turns out he "fell" for me - literally. Slipped on the ice en route to the car, en route to buy whatever it was to surprise me that day. Ended up in the emergency room.
This year, that won't do, I told him. It's time to pony up.
And enjoy another swim around the fishbowl.
(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at email@example.com.)