That dreaded holiday is approaching again. No, not Mother’s Day, though I think Valentine’s Day has got to run a close second. Who hates Valentine’s Day more than a single girl without a date? A woman who has been married more than two years….
And here’s why. It’s not because we don’t like a bouquet of red roses, guys. They’re very pretty and all, even if they are all dead within a week, less if you decide to get the day-after-Valentine’s-Day special at Kroger (um, yeah, I’ve gotten those). There is something admittedly symbolic and decadent about that particular standby gift, if you even bother to get it, which a surprising number of long-term significant others don’t. Some of them don’t even bring chocolate. And if you aren’t smart enough to know there is some consolation for a girl in chocolate, you have no business dating or being married.
You see, we dread this holiday because we resent the fact that it’s so darn easy for the guys. Unfairly so. Order the roses from the florist and maybe add in some artisan chocolates too boot. Bam. You’re done.
Meanwhile, we’ve been sweating bullets for at least a month in advance, scouring all the “what to buy your guy for V-Day web sites,” floored in some way that a silver whiskey flask or a progressive alarm clock are considered romantic gifts…or something he’d even want. How many times does he hit the snooze button in the morning anyway? And would a progressive alarm clock change that for him? And do you really see him standing there pouring his favorite malt into the tiny hole in the top of that flask? That’s the kind of OCD stuff high maintenance women engage in…minus the flask. They’re trying to figure out how not to spill that French martini in the perfectly lovely (but top-heavy) glass they just bought for it.
But where, ladies, is the all-purpose V-Day gift for guys??? Where is our dozen red roses and a box of chocolates equivalent?
I’m fearful it doesn’t exist because, being the research-intensive journalist that I am, I’ve been doing some homework on this subject at the behest of female acquaintances. Now, I haven’t done anything quite on the scale of the Gallup poll (But who answers those surveys anyway? That’s right—little old ladies with too much time on their hands—not exactly an accurate cross-section of America), but I have been polling. And the unfortunate reality is that no two women seem to have the same answer, and most of them have about a dozen “this gift might be a good one if you can afford it” suggestions that don’t even begin to offer the ease and convenience of red roses.
The first person to whom I turned my polling was my oldest and dearest friend Sarah. I knew given the fact that she is married to a chef who has a number of high level hobbies we women don’t understand (like duck hunting and motorcycling…or something along those lines) that she would have to have some good suggestions. This woman has been through the gift giving ringer. As I recall, her husband once requested a very special duck hunting backpack, the only kind of duck hunting backpack with which he could properly engage in the sport, that cost a mere $180 bucks. (And they wonder why we have to buy our purses at TJ Maxx.)
Her top all-purpose male V-Day gift suggestion was a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. “Men adore these damn things,” she told me, “probably because they can’t hear their wives bitching at them while they’re wearing them.” A mere $300, ladies, to enable your S.O. to do what he already does so well—ignore you.
Another female friend I posed the “all-purpose male V-Day gift” question to pursed her lips, shook her head, and then said, “Food and sex. Those are the only things I can think of.”
But that’s better perhaps than what fellow contributor Susannah offered up, which was “Do we still exchange gifts after 13 years of marriage?” She never really answered the question exactly, but I’m guessing it was likely “no” after the tirade she gave me on men and flowers.
She did provide one likely suggestion though: “How about I don’t criticize him for 24 hours?” A nice intangible gift that keeps on giving…at least for a day. It would probably outlast a box of chocolates now that I think about it.
But still, I’ve not come any closer to fulfilling my quest. Suggestions of super light kayak paddles, ATV outings, and super-duper hiking boots abound. But we all know, as we’ve all been there, that we’ll purchase the wrong thing no matter how much research we engage in. I tried for years to comprehend my former spouse’s hobbies in an effort to give the perfect gifts. I’m pretty sure I failed every time. I finally just gave up and stuck gift cards to Advance Auto and Bass Pro Shops in his Valentines. Not much thought going into that, but then exactly how much thought is going into the roses? That’s if you even get roses…or a card. I’ve gone plenty of years without either.
So maybe it is back to the old standby. No, not the Victoria’s Secret gift card for him (though it will do in a pinch). I’m talking sex. As a friend of mine said with a shrug, “Sex is easy, but it’s always well-received. I never get any complaints, and it’s the gift that gives back.”
Maybe so. Some guys will do the laundry for it. A few will even mow the grass.
And heck, don’t we have enough to worry about without having to come up with a V-Day gift he won’t return the very next day or stuff into his closet behind all those shirts you’ve given him over the years that really bring out his eyes but which he says are far too feminine? (And since when is forest green a feminine color?)
But you know, there is some small and wicked part of me that just once would like to see men go through the retail gymnastics that we do for them. How do they get off so easy? Flowers, chocolate, a nice bottle of wine, sweet smelling lotion, a pretty necklace—and we smile and tell them how much we love their thoughtfulness. Is it thoughtful? How much thought did they put into it? And maybe we are just too darn easy to please. Um yeah, you read that correctly. Women are very easy to please in the gift giving department, at least those who’ve been around the block a few times are. We’ve decreased our expectations to the point that if a guy even remembers Valentine’s Day, much less gives us flowers, we think he’s king of the hill.
I’m not the only female though that longs to see them sweat as much as we do.
After much puzzling on this whole subject of what to buy the men in our lives, Sarah finally said we needed to start demanding more ourselves, give them a taste of what it’s like to search frantically for the gift that tells them that not only do we love them but we understand them, we get them.
Do they do this for us?
And then inspiration hit Sarah like a bolt of lightning from above, as she came up with a scenario for the women blighted by too much painstaking shopping at Brooktone and Cabella’s to try in an effort to give the men in our lives a taste of what we go through for love of them:
Do you have an iPod? I think you should ask for an engraved one and ask him to make you a playlist that best reflects you and your relationship. Actually, get him to make several playlists that symbolize your time together…. Now that will get him thinking! And doing something besides buying roses or chocolate…
Although I think you should ask for Shari’s Berries, too….