Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day Pressure Makes Men Do Stupid Things

I think there is too much pressure on guys to make Valentine's Day really special. Women can get by with making his favorite meal and/or providing sex, but guys gotta ratchet things up a bit. Food and sex are just for starters.

I'm as guilty as the next woman of having hopes and expectations. Luckily I once had a boyfriend who asked me what I wanted, instead of trying to surprise me and risk my disappointment. I told him flowers, candy and perfume. I'm nothing if not easy.

I was expecting a single rose, maybe some Russell Stover chocolate cherries and a handful of sample perfumes they give away at the make up counter. Maybe with a card.

He gave me two dozen roses he chose himself -- all different colors. PLUS -- three pounds of Godiva chocolates. Have you ever seen how big that box is? AND a bottle of expensive perfume, not cologne.

Off the top of my head, those are the only Valentine's Day gifts I remember getting from a guy. My evening was usually a variation on food and sex which all kind of blur together with the passage of time. Remembering those gifts just shows how easily I can be dazzled by chocolate, flowers and trinkets.

Wait a minute, I also remember a lovely unsolicited fushia stole I got years ago. I kept it until recently, when I realized that I had never, ever worn it. I had only saved it for sentimental reasons. I don't even know why I had any kind of sentimental attachment to it though, since the guy that gave it to me confessed long ago that he forgot to get me anything for that particular Valentine's Day. His dad had bought the stole to give to someone else and gave it to his son to give to me to bail him out. I saved it anyway.

There was also the gift certificate to a hardware store from another admirer who knew how much I loved browsing the aisles. You can never have too many can openers and measuring spoons.

Unfortunately too many women expect a ring, when her go to guy may not be ready to give her one yet. But there's so much pressure that he caves and asks her to marry him even though he's not feeling like marrying her at that point. 

A few years ago I got a call on Valentine's Day from a couple I knew. They had been dating for four or five years. He had confided to me on more than one occasion that they could never get married because she was too high maintenance. How high maintenance?  He was a successful doctor and he still couldn't afford her.

So I was really surprised to get their phone call. He said they wanted to tell me first about their engagement. I was thrilled for their happiness, but a little voice in my head was saying -- what changed his mind?  Did he win the lottery?

She wore a three carat diamond engagement ring. He gave her a new Jaguar. They bought a new house. Two or three hundred people came to their wedding and reception -- the second nuptials for both of them. A mother of grown children, she wore a white wedding dress, designed to her specifications. Okay, maybe it was off white.

Clearly she was still high maintenance, so she hadn't changed. Maybe he just loved her and that was enough to change his mind about getting married.

Before the wedding, I remember helping a relative of the bride set up a video camera in the choir loft to record the event. This relative was talking about the groom and said, laughing, "How is he going to pay for her upkeep?" 

The marriage lasted eight months. He had cracked under the pressure. The engagement ring was a fake. The Jaguar was leased. Her parents paid for the reception. She didn't want to move into their new house until it was remodeled. So they never moved in.

They received some expensive gifts. Yes, it was a second wedding where gifts are considered inappropriate. However, I was present when they received an ornate sterling silver coffee and tea service that included an enormous tray. Remind me to find out whether the set was ever returned. Or melted down.

The pressure builds and guys do stupid things to keep the lid on.

A couple of years ago a young woman I know was wined and dined by her longterm boyfriend at a very romantic dinner. Engagement was definitely on her mind. Her family's too as I recall. At the end of their candlelight evening, he presented her with a beautiful velvet box that sure looked like a ring box to me when I saw it later. However, when she opened it up there was an adjustable bubble gum ring inside. He thought it was a riot. Did pressure turn him into an idiot? Or was he just an idiot looking for a chance to reveal himself?

I couldn't believe she didn't break up with him then and there. It took another year, but she did, finally.

Maybe because I don't have a significant other, all the bling seems so superficial. Instead, I can look forward to a bunch of hilarious cards from my girlfriends around the country to keep my spirits up so don't hold a wake on my behalf.

From my table for one, though, perhaps I can appreciate other people's relationships better than they can. I know that tomorrow can be a special day or a nightmare. A disappointment if you expect too much and a joy if you appreciate what you have.

Being with someone who makes you laugh is worth so much more than champagne poured in a limo on the way to a concert.

In the end "I love you" scribbled on a napkin is worth more than any diamond.

A handwritten love letter lives forever in your heart.


mosie1944 said...

Exactly.  Cliff and I don't do much about Valentine's Day, but in recent years he's gone out and bought me a card.  The thing that means the most to me is what he writes on the envelopes:  stuff like, "To my brown-eyed delight", or "to the best thing that ever happened to me".  And it isn't just a line.  That's how he thinks of me.

I doubt I receive a Valentine from him this year because he hasn't been anywhere without me, since I'm not working.  Hence, no opportunity to buy a card.

And that's fine.

salemslot9 said...

we love you Mrs. L
my best friend Bulldog is going to take
Valentine's Day off from work
"use them or lose them" (days)
his Father's 81st birthday is February 14th
Bulldog is going to pick up his brother on the way to visit their Dad
Bulldog was concerned about that being "our day"
I told him that every day is Valentine's Day
with him in it
he takes very good care of me :)

onemoretina said...

    Mrs. L, you hit the nail on the head with this one !  I once worked with a gal whose husband had a running account with the local florist.  She had flowers delivered to her at work, once a week.  A nice show for all her co-workers, who repeatedly talked about how lucky she was to have such a romantic and thoughtful husband.  Her real friends knew that the flowers were supposed to make up for the fact that most of the time this guy was a real ass.  Flowers and jewelry don't make up for poor treatment and neglect.  Give me a man who tells me he loves me on a regular basis .... and shows it.  That's the keeper.   Tina

bosoxblue6993w said...

give her a Hersey Bar, drive her through Burger King and snake a few flowers out of the cemetary ... and - man! - you'll get laid that night for sure.

swibirun said...

Great entry, Mrs. L, as always.  For the record, Alexis and I got married on 2/17 and I proposed on 2/16.  We were going to get married anyway in May that year but I was tired of waiting.  

I have never liked Valentines day because it seems that I never had a girlfriend at that time.

Most recent entry was 2/13/06

emmapeeldallas said...

"A handwritten love letter lives forever in your heart."  That is beautiful, eloquent, and oh so true.

Happy Valentine's Day.


mombzbe said...

Here, here, Mrs L.
I never could figure out why the big display once a year...when ideally, you should be good to each other every day.

It's in the slogging out of the daily details that you can tell how much someone really loves you.  :)

psychfun said...

Did you see the commercial where a guy at a table gives a diamond to his mate & then the guy at the next table says "A Diamond...great!" and leaves because now his girl will feel bad in comparison. Comparison Model!