ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Feb. 14, 2007.
OK gentlemen, listen up. It is D-Day, or rather V-Day, which, depending on your choices, could mean love or war.
Let’s review. The rest of the year, all 364 days (365 during leap years) you are a self-absorbed unromantic slob for whom the words “Hi honey, what’s for supper,” constitute a deep, meaningful conversation.
But for one day a year, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, you are expected to miraculously transform into a cross between Casanova and George Clooney.
Valentine’s gifts are, on the surface, easy to buy. Let’s review the obvious choices — flowers, candy, jewelry and lingerie. Throw in a romantic dinner, and you think you’re set for another year, right?
Valentine’s Day is a minefield, territory so strewn with booby traps and pitfalls it often trips the most experienced man. For rookies it can be deadly.
For those of you who haven’t purchased your Valentine’s Day gifts yet, there’s still hope, and for those of you who have, perhaps you can exchange them.
Let’s begin with flowers. That’s got to be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Red roses are a symbol of love, beauty and passion, so giving red roses means you are signifying the recipient is THE ONE. If you’re not sure of that, rethink the roses and stick with something like marigolds or chrysanthemums.
Besides, roses are, ounce for ounce, about as expensive as gold this time of year. So if she’s not THE ONE, go the cheap route.
Candy seems a safe bet, right? Au contraire, marzipan breath. The giving of candy seems a particularly romantic gesture, since chocolate is something of an aphrodisiac, but it also can send a signal you think she thinks you think she doesn’t care about her weight, and you don’t even want to go there, soldier.
Jewelry is another popular alternative. Nothing says love like something hard, cold and sparkling. But diamonds, as they say, are forever, and so if you’re not sure your love is, stay away from the bling. Besides, forever is about how long you’ll be paying for a big diamond.
Lingerie is perhaps the biggest gift-giving minefield of all. Give her one of those sheer baby doll numbers fringed in fur that leave little or nothing to the imagination, and it signals you see her strictly as a sex object (a burden I’ve had to bear all my adult life). Give her flannel jammies with a drop seat and feet, and she’ll think you don’t consider her attractive anymore.
Besides, it is an unwritten law of manhood anytime you buy a woman clothing of any kind, you never will get the size right.
A good rule of thumb is when in doubt buy the next smaller size. Bring home something a size or two too big and you’ll spend the next year sleeping on the couch (if you’re lucky).
Unless, that is, you are purchasing a bras-siere, when just the opposite is true.
So where do you turn? Stay away from any kind of household appliances. Present your sweetie with a new vacuum cleaner, coffee maker, blender or clothes dryer and prepare to spend the next year sleeping with the dog (if he’ll have you). Groceries, gift cards, power tools, sporting goods and beauty products are other gifts guaranteed to leave you snuggling with your schnauzer.
A massage or spa treatment is a thoughtful, personal gift, as long as there’s no insinuation, real or imagined, you think she needs to lose weight. Fall into that trap and you’ll only dream of sleeping with the dog.
You could always write her a love poem, perhaps “Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and you’re the best,” or something like that.
Face it soldier, you can’t win. It’s a fact of life. So take your best shot. Send flowers, buy jewelry, take her to dinner at a romantic restaurant (which means no drive-through window) and tell her you love her and can’t live without her.
If you’re lucky she’ll forgive you for getting the wrong kind of flowers, the wrong piece of jewelry or an embarrassing or ill-fitting nightie. If not, make sure the dog’s bedding is clean.
If you totally botch the gift, the best thing to do is to throw yourself on her mercy and beg for forgiveness.
And if things really go south, fall back on the ultimate male fail-safe. Simply get down on your knees, take both her hands in yours, gaze lovingly into her eyes and say “Forgive me honey. I can’t help it. I’m just a man.”
If that doesn’t work, stand up and immediately go buy the dog canine breath mints.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.