Valentine’s Day: The Prettiest Girl in the Room …

He Used to Say So All the Time .. Used to.

Happy Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day, a day fraught with all sorts of emotion, memories, and expectations. I personally have always loved the day. It follows by three days my parents’ anniversary and the birth of my first child. My father, who was quite the romantic, made a big deal of Valentine’s Day and so, it was very special around our house when I was growing up. As a dating young miss and Ms., I received flowers, cards, candies, and other delights with the best of them. It was all fun.

And as a special bonus, 34 years ago on Valentine’s Day, I was anointed one of the “10 Most Eligible Women in the World” by United Press International (UPI), the international news agency whose newswires, photos, films, and audio services provided news to thousands of newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations.

I know. It’s hard to believe looking at chubby, middle-aged me today, but in 1984 the news service named me to that “Most Eligible” list along with blonde bombshell Loni Anderson; Christie Hefner, Hugh’s daughter; Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones,  niece of Queen Elizabeth, and Patti Davis, daughter of President and Nancy Reagan.

“Why me?” you rightly ask. Well, my “credentials” read:

“Karen Galatz, 29, is a good-looking brunette who pulls a lot of weight in the Nevada governor’s office where she is press secretary to Gov. Richard Bryan. Galatz has never been married, graduated from Columbia University at age 20 and received her masters’ degree in Russian studies at Georgetown University. Also, she can cook.”

Can Cook?

Now there’s a lot to parse in that paragraph, but let’s focus on the elephant in the blurb. I couldn’t cook. In fact, just weeks before, when I prepared my first dinner for the future Handsome Hubby, it took days of coaching and concern from my female office colleagues. First, they helped select the menu; then, they conducted numerous practice meal prep run-throughs in the office kitchen to ensure I understood the various techniques involved. The night of the actual dinner, there was a big fire in tiny Carson City, Nevada. Multiple fire trucks responded. So, did the office ladies. I received multiple phone calls from them, checking to see if I had set fire to my apartment! So, I guess this “Also she can cook” line can be viewed as an early example of “fake news” or at the very least, misleading advertising!

Turning to the question of how I made the list, I can only provide a partial answer. My name was submitted to the UPI higher-ups by then-Carson City Capitol Bureau Reporter Cy Ryan, a journalist who perfectly fit the description of a gruff and great newsman. For the men’s “most eligible” compilation, Cy nominated then-Nevada State Sen. Randolph Townsend, a millionaire former race car driver. Randolph made the list along with John F. Kennedy Jr., mustached, macho actor Tom Selleck, tennis player John McEnroe, and Steve Jobs.

Then, as to how I made the final cut, all I can say is somebody at UPI headquarters must have had a warped sense of humor because clearly, I’m the odd woman out among the beauteous, the buxom, and the billionaire babes. Family and friends speculated, pondered and giggled, but could never come up with a good reason for my inclusion on the list. Perhaps UPI simply wanted one regular gal and they picked my name out of a hat! Who knows?

Flattered or Flustered?

The list of “eligibles” appeared in newspapers across the country in cities as diverse as St. George, Utah; Tampa, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois. The article was also published overseas. As a result, I received two marriage proposals from abroad including one from the Philippines. In addition: a Texas lawyer showed up at my office, asking to meet and take me out to dinner! Flustered and slightly freaked out, I declined to be wooed.

It took longer than I expected for the hubbub about the list to die down. At the time, I found the attention more mortifying than flattering. After all, I deemed myself a serious, professional woman. This bachelorette list was unseemly, undignified, unliberated. My mother, of course, disagreed. She framed the article and placed it on prominent display with all the family photos and diplomas. She showed it to everybody who walked through the front door.

Two years after that article appeared, I lost my “most eligible” status and married that funny, smart, kind, loving man now known as Handsome Hubby (HH). In the decades since then, that oversized framed maternal “homage” has yellowed and faded, and, with my mother’s passing, it has been relegated to the back of my closet.

Today HH and I have a wonderful marriage. I won’t trade it … or him … for anything. But that said, the fires of red-hot Valentine’s Days have inevitably faded a bit as we have “matured” and the real-world responsibilities of work, family, health, and life have taken precedence. In the good old days whenever we went out, HH-unprompted-would always tell me “I was the prettiest girl in the room.” Of course, I knew I wasn’t, but it was thrilling to hear him say so. Now he rarely remembers to say it and I must say I miss those flattering and loving words.

Just the other evening, we got all dressed up for a fancy event, a gala. I looked pretty good if I do say so myself. And it was good I did say so myself because HH didn’t offer the “You are the prettiest girl” line that evening. He was, in all fairness, pretty tired and it was a long evening.

Valentine’s Day Today

But that brings me back to the “10 Most Eligible Women” list. I may have scoffed at it 34 years ago, but today onValentine’s Day 2018 it does provide a bit of ego-boosting cheer to my middle-aged heart.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go kiss HH and tell him that he’s the “cutest boy” in the room. And you know, after all these years, he still is and I don’t need any list to tell me that!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.

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