I have to confess I’ve not received too many extravagant gifts from men. While I know there are women out there who would appear to belong to “the ring a month club” courtesy of their boyfriends and husbands, that has never been me. The best I’ve gotten from a guy short of an engagement ring is a pair of cross-country skis. (And let me tell you, that was thrilling enough.)
So I have to admit from the outset I don’t exactly come at the whole “guy showers girl with extravagant gifts” thing with a very clear perspective on the issue. Which is no doubt why my current boyfriend has thrown me a bit off kilter…and many of my girlfriends, too, who (like me) have never really experienced much in the wine, roses, and diamonds department.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’d much rather have a kayak or a hiking trip to Peru than a diamond any day, but I’ve not gotten anything along those lines either. However, I digress….
My new beau is a whole different animal from what I’m used to. Not only does he have something on the verge of a conniption fit if I try to lift a 40-pound bag of dog chow out of the trunk of my car, but he insists on stopping along the side of the road to adjust the headlights on my car when I complain about them not performing well enough in the fog. (And yes, he has the tools for things of this nature magically handy at all times.) He also pulls out my chair at dinner (even when it’s at my own house) and refuses to allow me to stand up to refill my own wine glass. He is a model of chivalry, and I still can’t quite get used to it. The attention verges on decadence to my way of thinking.
But one of my well-heeled girlfriends begs to disagree. She does not find it in the least disturbing that he also buys me shoes, scarves, jewelry, new tires for my car, and anything else he can think of to bring a twinge of a smile to my face. In fact, she said to me only yesterday, “This is how a man is supposed to treat a woman, Debbie. He is wooing you.”
If that’s true, what have all the other men in my life been doing the past 20 years?
I’m not the only one asking this question, by the way.
A girls’ getaway to California this last week proved my point…and also proved what I think most educated men already know—that a woman (and a group of women even more so) can take the tiniest shred of an idea and run with it way past left field.
After a day out shopping in Sausalito and strolling through the John Muir Woods, my girlfriends and I returned to our hotel room to find an “edible arrangement” waiting in a refrigerator that the hotel staff had carted up to our room for the very purpose of keeping my chocolate-covered apple slices and pineapples appetizingly chilled. We all knew who the charming culprit was—my boyfriend (whom I will leave unnamed until I am certain I have charmed him to the degree he won’t dump me for talking about him on my blog).
Of course, before any female analysis of the chocolate-covered fruit in the pot could begin, we all set about devouring it as quickly as possible. (I got first dibs on the chocolate-covered strawberries—it was my boyfriend after all.)
Once the four of us were satiated, our bodies strewn across two queen-sized beds, torsos propped on pillows as if we were having a high school slumber party all over again, Sarah piped up, “I don’t think anyone has ever sent me a gift like that when I’ve been away traveling.” I see her cocking her head to the side and getting that slight twitch at the corner of her lip that she gets when she’s about to claim something is suspect. “Have you, Shiloh?”
Shiloh, whose heart has been recently decimated, shakes her head. “No, never.”
Megan, who is in her third trimester, continues munching her chocolate-covered apple slice and offers no opinion.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this either,” I say, though I can sense I have gained temporary “admired woman” status among my friends.
We make a rather hasty group decision (because it’s almost dinner time) to chalk this up to a delightful form of male chivalry and admiration to which all of us are unaccustomed but which seems…well…kind of nice. Who doesn’t like to end their day with chocolate-covered berries and pineapples carved into flowers?
So…out we go to dinner at an Italian café, followed by cocktails and bread pudding at the hotel bar. We return to our hotel room. We are casually sprawled about the room again in our yoga pants and PJs, and there is a knock at the door.
It’s 10 p.m.
We exchange looks. No one moves.
Then Shiloh, the bravest among us, hops up, opens the door, and a white-coated waiter is standing there with a platter loaded with more chocolate-covered berries, grapes, bread, and half a dozen types of cheese. He presents a card. Shiloh opens it, reads it, looks at me.
“Holy shit,” I say, nevermind the presence of the room service waiter.
Of course, as with the first delivery, we really waste no time digging into the edible delights, though we conduct our female analysis of the situation in tandem with the devouring of Stilton on rye.
“Um,” Sarah finally volunteers, her lip curling just a little again, “does this strike you as a bit over the top?
Shiloh and I look up in mid-chew.
“It is a little over the top,” Shiloh says.
“Twice in one day,” Sarah adds.
I nod and put down my goat cheese, feeling a bit disconcerted. Something about the decadence of it all is starting to unnerve me.
I can see Sarah’s brain at work. She is thinking, Is this guy a stalker? Is he marking his turf? Is he just loaded and has nothing better to do with his money?
I decide to take a shower, knowing that as soon as the bathroom door closes behind me, the girls will start analyzing, saying all the things they don’t dare say in front of me…not yet anyway. (That is how women are. Whoever leaves the room will undoubtedly become the subject of the conversation.)
Ten minutes later when I re-enter the bedroom, all is rather quiet, as if some conclusion has been reached without my consent. “He’s not an idiot,” Sarah says. “He is trying to impress your friends, too. He knows the weight of female opinion.” And Shiloh and I have to admit there is some truth in this. After all, I’ve ditched guys I might never have ditched based on the weight of female opinion. What man in his right mind would dare anger the girlfriend contingent? And, conversely, not try to woo them, too?
There is no more discussion of the edible arrangement and room service cheese plate, however, until late the next day. I am in Macy’s in Union Square, waiting for Shiloh to purchase deadly stilettos and a red coat. I call the man who has been the subject of so much feminine analysis.
After some chatting, I remark that the girls and I will be returning to the hotel soon to eat the remainder of yesterday’s cheese plate.
“Wait a minute. What did you say?” he asks.
“The chocolate-covered strawberries and cheese plate you had delivered to our room late last night,” I say.
“What?” He is a little perplexed. “That was supposed to have been delivered tonight.”
I am overcome with relief at these words. I make haste of our conversation and run to Sarah’s side. “Guess what?! The room service was supposed to come tonight. It was a mistake!”
Her face lights up. “Thank God!” she says. “Two deliveries in one day is too much, too much like a cat pissing on his territory. This is excellent news.”
We share this latest tidbit with Shiloh, who also shows great relief.
And then Sarah says, “We really need to call room service and complain.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Because you might have ended the relationship over this,” she explains. “Remember last night how we were analyzing? Thinking he was too intense? Wondering if he didn’t have a screw or two loose in showering you with so much attention in one day?”
“Yes,” I agree, “we did take it rather far.”
“But then it’s also disturbing how much we can read into a cheese plate,” Sarah adds.
“I think we should get a complimentary cheese plate in restitution for the error,” Shiloh suggests.
We all nod, and when we get back to the hotel room, Shiloh takes charge of the situation, calls room service, explains the near-relationship-ending error they have made, and receives a response from the maitre de of “Oh, yes that was shitty of us.”
Half an hour later, we have a new cheese plate along with complimentary spring water. “The berries will be coming later,” says the waiter. “We have to heat up the chocolate. So sorry.”
Even the waiter knows not to mess with a room full of tittering females bent on analysis of male motives. Though in our heart of hearts we also know that to a man, a cheese plate is a cheese plate, and a chocolate-dipped strawberry is just something you give to a woman you love…and her girlfriends you are trying to charm.