Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The Pappa Files: The Great Valentine’s Day Conspiracy

Feb 13, 2024

February 14, a day that lives in infamy… who the heck came up with this financial vacuum? Was it truly based on Saint. Valentine from the Roman Church? Was it based on the Greek God, Eros? Or is it true that the holiday is the manifestation of the greeting card and candy crime families? If that’s the case, then Cupid got it wrong and Chicago’s North Side Gang got whacked to sell a few cards and chocolate kisses. I do refer, of course, to the great St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of one of Chicago’s toughest gangs in 1929. No, I wasn’t responsible. I have an iron-clad alibi. I was not born yet and wouldn’t be for another forty-plus years.

I have a real problem with Cupid. He’s a fat little cherub based on Greek mythology (Eros) who flies around shooting people with arrows to make them fall in love. (Could the NRA use this as a marketing ploy?) The idea that Valentine’s Day is truly about love and romance tends to suggest we’re all naive stary-eyed teenagers. Maybe Cupid dips his arrows in a psychotropic drug or something.

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is cool when you’re unmarried, without children/grandchildren, and a youthful dreamer with your eye on the future love of your life. Then, you buy those roses-$85 a dozen. Get those Godiva Chocolates-$69.95 for a handful; dinner and drinks – $275 (Conservatively); oh, and since the greeting card companies are Eros’ sugardaddy, don’t forget the card that sings, dances, and does the laundry-$7.99 in a discount store. Then, if you’re really good and don’t eat with your fingers or belch loudly during dinner, you might actually get a peck on the cheek. (Okay, if you’re really lucky… in flagrante delicto.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not down on Valentine’s Day. But I am a pragmatist. I call ’em as I see ’em. Nothing makes me happier than making my wife happy (happy wife, happy life), and teaching my daughters and granddaughters how men should treat them-very well. And hell yeah, I can be romantic. After all, didn’t I agree to the two new Maine Coon cats who now compete with the two Labs for bed space every night? Don’t I do all the cooking? Don’t I take out the trash (now and then)? Spoil said-wife’s friends with fancy meals and parties just to make her look good and in awe of her posse? Oh, please. I am almost an incurable romantic!

For me, it’s all about math. Here’s the breakdown: one wife who likes to live well and be pampered; two daughters who equally like dad’s gifts and offerings; five granddaughters who are being trained by their parents that dear Pappa is not the hard-core adventurer he appears, but a softy of Greek proportions; and a man about dogs and cats. The latter is purely for context. Though the dogs and cats make out pretty well in my house, too. So, there is a grand total of at least eight V-Day recipients (not counting the four-legged ones and a young little boy who needs a fix, too). I typically get flowers and chocolates all around, maybe even lunch for the group at our local 5-star restaurant, Violinos, and some nice little jewelry if I’m sitting on a windfall. No, the dogs do not join us at Violino’s nor will they get any earrings. If you’re better with math than me, then it equates to one lung, one kidney, half my liver, and 10 years for bank robbery. No worries, I’m sure my girls will give me an unbreakable alibi so I won’t be in the slammer during the holidays (Christmas, birthdays, and of course, V-Day)!

A message for my youngest, Shane (that’s not really his name)… (yes, it is)… who has yet to add to my growing clan. Have boys. Please. I can toss in a bag of Skittles, maybe a little toy truck, and pizza. They’ll love it!

So, as we approach the dawn of Valentine’s Day yet again, I feel very much like a member of Chicago’s North Side Gang. I’m about to be whacked by Hallmark, Godiva, Flowers-Are-Us, and Violinos.

But hey, let’s get real. I love it. I love them. Dogs and cats included. So what if my mortgage company might miss me this month? Who cares if the cops have me on the Ten Most Wanted after the Winchester National Bank and Trust comes up a little short? I can sell my spare organs (who needs two lungs and two kidneys after all?) And I might have some coin left over, too. Maybe I’ll buy stock in Hallmark and Godiva.

But wait … there’s more … birthday seasons approacheth!

That is life as a pappa. It is all self-inflicted. It is perpetual. But if you feel pangs of sadness for me, I’ll send you the link to my go-fund-me account. And if you act now there’s a free, signed book for your $100 donation! Yes, my books. Geez.


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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