Allison's Written Words

Love, Obscurity Style: Cathy’s Valentine


Have I ever mentioned that I love my second job?  The one I don’t get a paycheck from, but the one that forever keeps me in challenging research to find the obscure, the unusual, and the niche-interesting of internet nostalgia?

I have?

Well, then I just repeated myself.  Wouldn’t be the first time, but yep, it happened.

One of the things that I love about my second job of sorts is the fun stuff I manage to find all over the internet all day, every day.  Throw in a holiday, and, well, all that research becomes so much more fun and interesting.

Last year, digging around in the doldrums of obscure holiday-themed animated specials netted me the Family Circus family celebrating Easter, and Dennis the Menace creating Mother’s Day havoc with a heart.  I’ve looked at Santa being arrested for breaking and entering in our crazy world (circa 1985), as seen on Amazing Stories.  Have you seen some of the commercials I’ve dug up?  Have you seen some of the other things I’ve talked about?  There’s over 270 posts on this blog.  There’s alot of random craziness going on.  This blog is…terrifying.

Sorry, I can’t think of anything else to describe my ability to find craziness all over the place.

As I did when I unearthed my other two obscure animated specials, I consulted the website, which has a great archive listing of animated specials – the ones you know…and the ones you’ve likely never heard of before, forgotten about, or can’t believe were inspired by toy lines.  I tell ya, the 1980s was silly with specials based around toylines…and not all of them particularly memorable.  Not because they were terrible (or maybe they were and I’m in denial?), but because they likely only aired once, were not based off of a popular toyline, or were dated after a certain era. The same goes with specials based around Sunday Comic strips and licensed properties (not based on toylines).  Some are one-off specials that fell into the doldrums. It happens, unfortunately.

One such special (not based on a toyline/licensed property) I’m sure I saw when it aired (and quickly forgot about, since I was six years old at the time) was the special Cathy’s Valentine, which aired on CBS on February 10, 1989 as the third of the comic strip character’s three animated specials (the first two being Cathy, in 1987, and Cathy’s Last Resort in 1988).

For those of us who have read the strip in the newspaper (I did when I was younger – thanks to my comic-loving maternal grandfather, who read me For Better or For Worse when I wasn’t old enough to understand it, and then balanced it out with Peanuts, Garfield, Haggar the Horrible, and even Cathy), Cathy is a female character created by Cathy Guisewite, and ran from 1976 until 2010.  The comic was inspired by Guisewite’s single life, and depicted the eponymous protagonist, Cathy, struggling with the four guilts of life – food, love, mom, and work.  You know, a comic character for the rest of us.

As I said, Cathy had two other specials, airing in 1987 and 1988.  There was never a Christmas-themed special, or even a Thanksgiving themed special.  Heck, Cathy never had Easter adventures.  And that’s because she is all of us – not everything has to be a warm-and-fuzzy holiday special.  Being rooted in realism is perfectly fine too!  So when I saw that Cathy had her own Valentines Day special, the sarcastic, formerly-single girl in me knew why immediately.  Which makes it all the better for a Valentines Day-themed post.

The point is, while I’m not a single girl this Valentines Day (something I’m very happy about this year), I have been a single girl on the holiday in the past, and heck, I was newly-single last year.  So I get single life on what I still refer to as a Hallmark holiday.  It doesn’t matter how happy one is in a relationship – once a sarcastic girl with social commentary, always a sarcastic girl with social commentary.  And a blog to lay it all out there.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Cathy’s Valentines Day special!

The special starts off with this…

Yes.  Catch the magic of 1970s logos!

And then the special starts.

Cathy is lamenting about her dislike of Valentine’s Day, ever since that time in 1961 where she didn’t get a Valentine.


It’s everything she loves and dreads, and she begins to recount all the busts of the holiday (from her experience) – Valentine from the wrong person, Valentine from the right person…two years too late, Valentine from a relative.  But this year will be different, because she knows she has a boyfriend.

Whom she falls asleep over dinner with.


After the opening credits, whcih resemble every opening credit sequence of every Peanuts and Garfield special of the era, the special actually begins.  No, there’s no Lou Rawls song here like in the Garfield specials, just an instrumental ditty like the ones in the Peanuts specials.

Cathy narrates the idea of Valentine’s Day not being over-commercialized, but about the most important love of all, the one between mother and child, husband and wife, and woman and therapist.

And speaking of therapists…

Cathy visits her therapist, Janet, discussing her “love him but bored” relationship with Irving, but then goes off into a ramble about everything else in her life, describing herself as a “confident wreck.”  She recalls last year, when she was a deranged, obsessive person…but happy.  And contrary to what she is describing, she’s now blubbering and sad about the rut their relationship has come to, three days before Valentine’s Day.  Cathy comes to reason that Irving needs reassurance.

Meanwhile, Irving is playing racquetball with Ross, and discussing his friend’s wedding.  The wedding is on Valentine’s Day, no less.  Irving recounts (via inner voice) why he hates Valentine’s Day, and how he hates the feeling of “expecting.”  He wants to surprise Cathy, but not play by the rules.

It will become clear to you later that spontaneity, like organization, is not one of Irving’s strong suits.

Cathy finds Irving on the street outside the racquetball club, while sitting next to a snowman she made.  He’s convinced she’s acting “not normal” because she went to the therapist that day.  The love just practically oozes through this conversation that has a nice, irritated tone to it.  Irving tells Cathy he’ll be by that night.

Cathy discusses the amount of money it costs to look amazing for the holiday itself.  She’s also receptive to other people’s input…and makeover abilities.

Because the hooker look suits her well, don’t you think?

Her parents stop by, and mom informs her that love is about what’s in the kitchen, and that those single-serve dinners aren’t helping.   But, if that’s what Cathy and Irving like, then why is that a problem?  They also claim she doesn’t need a therapist when they can be objective, and ask her why she doesn’t talk to them.

Parents.  They mean well.  But it helps to have outside-family-type people to discuss the issues of life with.

Her parents leave, just as Irving shows up for the surprise he promised earlier…to hook her stereo up to her cable.  Cathy thought he wanted to do something romantic, but Irving is more interested in taking care of her electronics needs.  They begin to argue about the state of their relationship.  In the midst of their argument, Irving reminds Cathy that they are going to Ross’s wedding that Saturday, and that they have a commitment.  It’s like they are breaking up, but staying together at the same time.  That doesn’t make sense, but oh well.  You  write it your way, and I’ll write it my way.


Cathy discusses via narration that thirty-six percent of all Valentine’s Day candy will be eaten by women who bought the candy for themselves.  Meanwhile, she is being a productive individual, impressing her boss with her productivity.  Cathy’s therapist and mom both call at the same time.

Cathy vents to her therapist, Janet, about how she spent $300 on stuff for her romantic evening with Irving, and all he was interested in was seeing the back of her stereo.  Her mom (and then her dad), meanwhile, just want to talk.  Cathy’s co-workers give her all sorts of mixed advice, and her friend’s daughter, Zenith, made a special Valentine for Cathy.  Her friend, Andrea (Zenith’s mom), says that Valentines are to tell people we love them.

Irving, meanwhile, is in a store “not” looking for a Valentine gift for someone who is “not speaking to him,” so the retail clerk gives him some help on finding something special.  She suggests cologne, lingerie, jewelry – it’s all too much for Irving.

He’s insufferable.  And reminds me of some of my past relationships.

Meanwhile, Cathy is wrapping a gift and narrating about the backbone of the human race – which, in short is, “hope where no hope exists.”  She discusses restarting her diet frequently, while we see her changing her clothing frequently and re-wrapping the gift.

Her parents call to invite her for Valentine’s Day dinner, to which Cathy explains that she has plans.  Since her mom believes these “plans” she speaks of involve seeing Janet (her therapist, whom her parents continue to refer to as a “psychiatrist”), Cathy puts the kabash on their worries and informs them that she is going to a wedding with Irving, and that everything is fine.  Her dad believes she’ll be seeing the psychiatrist.

Irving arrives at Cathy’s house, where he is practicing how he will greet Cathy when she comes to the door.  When he settles on “you like nice,” he’s shocked by the revelation that she’s not even ready yet.  He’s upset by this, but she informs him that she’s been ready eleven times (wow, it doesn’t take me that much effort to get ready in the morning!), and he caught her in the middle of changing outfits.  Irving tells her to hurry up, since his car is out of gas and they will need to use hers…if Irving can find her keys.

They wind up needing a cab, but neither has cash on them.  This on top of the presentation of their Valentine’s Day presents to each other, and the arguments of carrying a “dainty evening bag,” which you can’t carry much in.  I have to agree with Cathy on this one, you can’t carry anything in those little bags.  They arrive at the wedding, and don’t have the $4.85 on them for the taxi.

Perhaps the wedding will go off without a hitch?

I’d like to think it did!  But then there’s the reception…

At the reception, Cathy approaches Irving and asks him if he felt the wedding was beautiful, to which he gets interrupted by other invitees who seem to dwell upon the fact that Cathy and Irving are single…and won’t dance.  So they begin arguing about this.

Again, it’s all  too much for Irving, since he can’t control the situation and all, and there’s rules involved (methinks Irving is a bit OCD, wouldn’t you say?), and he leaves the reception.

Back at home, Cathy is throwing out all of Irving-type things (including his picture), when he shows up at her house, and explains that she got home because her mom was parked outside the wedding, just in case Cathy “needed to talk.”


While Cathy is “obliterating” Irving’s memory as he holds the box of memory, he sees a mixed tape that they used to ruin some great dinners to, so Cathy ruins the tape.  I like her style of revenge!  Destroying the tape is symbolic of obliterating a relationship…or at least, it obviously was in 1989.  What do you do these days, break mix CDs of love?  Or mp3 players?  What do we destroy these days to obliterate the memory of relationships?

We delete photos from Facebook.


She explains to Irving that she wants to make things work in their relationship, but it just never works the way it should.  They start talking about all the things that don’t work with their relationship (and all of their hangups), as they pack all of Irving’s “memory” stuff up.  These two need help.  Bad.

They wind up agreeing on how much they hate each other.  I was in a relationship that could have used that revelation.  I say “was” because that relationship is so over.  Because of insufferability.

Is that a word?

Wow, did I date Irving?

They then discuss what they got each other for Valentine’s Day – Cathy gave Irving – page 199 “The Glamour Magazine perfect gift guide” (it’s selected by professional rule makers, after all).  They decide to see how much they hated each other’s gifts.  It’s then that they realize how much they have in common after all…but since they hate each other, it’s a shame their relationship couldn’t be built on such a solid foundation.

I’m convinced Cathy’s therapist isn’t doing the job.

Irving informs Cathy that the first rule of being someone’s Valentine is compromise (I think that’s a useful rule of life, not just Valentine’s Day, Irving), and they wind up…well, yeah.  Let’s just say they compromise.  On the kitchen floor.

What do you think is going to happen?  It’s a family holiday special!  At least, I guess it’s a family holiday special.

And all’s well that ends well…until Cathy’s mom (who, according to the voicemail her father is leaving on Cathy’s answering machine) shows up to apologize for butting in, and sees what’s being implied here happening on the kitchen floor.  Ok, we don’t see it, but we know what is going to happen next!

Um…Happy Valentine’s Day?

Well, there you have it, a trip in the obscure archives of holiday specials. Oh how I love these!

In all, this actually is a cute special about the social commentary of Valentine’s Day when it’s not lovey-dovey, hearts, and cupids.  It’s Valentine’s Day in it’s most realistic form, and a special for all of us, the ones who don’t care for all that lovey-dovey stuff.

I may be in a relationship now, but I like something that speaks to social commentary the way it was meant to be spoken.  Although I will say that I could never handle someone like Irving.  That boy has too many hangups.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about Cathy and Irving’s relationship after this special (since there weren’t any more of them), the kids are alright.  In fact, they married in the February 5, 2005  comic.

Proof that if these two crazy kids couldn’t make it, who can?

So there you have it, the time Cathy and Irving almost broke up over the differences that bound them.  On Valentine’s Day.

It’s a magical holiday, isn’t it?

Happy Valentine’s Day readers and followers, and may you always find the necessary common ground in your relationship, even if it some of it is about the hangups you have with each other.

For the record, I got a surge protector among anniversary gifts one time.

Take a lucky guess as to what the outcome was there.

Happy Valentine’s Day!