The Christmas season is finally over, with barely a chance to take a breath before retailers began frantically loading their shelves with Valentine’s Day cards, gifts, and ads extolling the romantic features of wind-up, plastic teddy bears. Many women, like me, love Valentine’s Day. It’s about romance, falling in love, and tiny cherubs flying around in the clouds, shooting tiny arrows through the hearts of mortals to signal the successful pairing of potential soul mates.
For men, Valentine’s Day is often a bit more practical. It’s the universe’s way of giving you a Do-Over day. 24 hours to give her the romantic gift you didn’t get her for Christmas. Yes, in fact, she did need new brake pads for her car, but as a Christmas gift, it lacked a certain level of intimacy. Yeah, it sucked.
Any gift to your wife should be personal and thoughtful. But on Valentine’s Day, she wants to feel especially loved, cherished, and important to you. She wants bragging rights with her girlfriends, so they know what a lucky woman she is to be married to a sweetheart like you. You’re right, it can be a lot of pressure for a man.
To help you out, and ensure that you’re still happily married on February 15th, here’s a list of bad Valentine’s Day gifts received by women from their misguided, but well-intended husbands. If you’re considering any of these, be very careful (and include a really, really nice card).
Cliche gifts. Think generic flowers and heart-shaped boxes of candy. She hears, “Oh crap. It’s Valentine’s Day?? I guess I can stop on the way home and grab something from the display at Safeway.” If you want to give her flowers, get her favorite. (Hint: We don’t all love red roses.) This is not the day for her to find out that, after nine years, you don’t know she loves purple Gerber daisies.
Tacky lingerie. This would be anything you bought at a store that also carries automotive accessories and children’s craft products. Nylon panties adorned badly tacked-on, black lace, attached to a matching bra, is skeevy and says more about you than her. If you fantasize about cheap prostitutes, this isn’t the time to bring her up to speed.
Cheap jewelry that makes no sense. Necklaces with cheap chains and pendants of plated dolphin tails when she’s never expressed a love of the sea. Ditto ankle bracelets from Claire’s, if she’s 42.
Gag gifts. Make light of your relationship on any other day of the year, and you’ll probably get a pass. On Valentine’s Day, she could snuff you in your sleep and a jury of her peers would never convict her. Toilet paper emblazoned with red hearts and “I love you all over” inscriptions on every sheet. Oversized, fleece pajama bags built for two. Juvenile couple’s t-shirts (His: “I Heart Hooters.” Hers: “Hi, I’m Hooters.”)
Drugstore fragrances. Especially if she wears Chanel, Armani, or another high-end scent. And don’t even think about the lower-priced knock-offs that claim to smell “just like the original, for one-third the price.” They don’t. They smell like street hookers on parade.
A puppy. Seriously? Unless she’s expressed an unfulfilled desire for a pet, you’ve just handed her an 15-year project that eats, needs constant attention, and may or may not know to do his business outside.
A personalized star on the Internet registry. Stupidest. Gift. Ever. It’s not like she can go there and stay for the weekend, or that she’ll ever actually know which of the 700 gazillion stars in the sky is hers. This was so not invented by a woman.
Gift cards. Even if you get the store right, you’re saying, “I know where you shop, but I have no idea what you’d want.” Really, dude? You’ve been married to her for 13 years, you see her every day, and you can’t visualize one thing she might like you to get for her? If you’re truly that unaware of her tastes, go to her favorite store and ask the saleswoman. And be nice. She can save your oblivious ass.
Stuffed animals. Especially those holding tiny heart boxes of chocolate. What are we, like 12? And she knows you just grabbed it at Rite Aid while you were picking up your meds. It doesn’t make her feel cherished when you only remembered Valentine’s Day while refilling your prescription for irritable bowel syndrome.
Any gift that suggests she needs improvement. This includes new scales, free weights, treadmills, memberships to Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, or books titled How to Be a Better Lover in 14 Days. Whether or not you think she needs these things is not the point. She just doesn’t need them on Valentine’s Day.
I know. By now, I’ve exhausted your original list and you’re thinking, “So what do I get her??” It’s easy.
A couple’s massage at her favorite spa. A leisurely, romantic dinner at the restaurant of her choice. Lotion and powder in her signature fragrance. A bottle of wine she loves but won’t buy because it’s “too expensive.” The newest book from her favorite author. Tickets to a play, opera, comedy club, or ballet that she wants to see. A pair of fabulous gloves to wear with her “wear every day” jacket. Anything that shows you’ve listened to her over the years. You’ve noticed her. You love her.
A friend of mine told me about a Valentine’s Day when her Hubs brought home a half-dozen romantic comedies that he’d been steadfastly refusing to watch with her. He unplugged his phone and spent the entire day watching rom-coms with her, without falling asleep. He later claimed it was the best sex he’d ever had. Boom.
Note to my readers: For the remaining month of February, my weekly Monday Laugh Lines post will be appearing on Thursdays. Why? That’s a secret right now, and I can’t tell you any more. But check with me next Monday for the best event EVER.