Sunday, February 11, 2007
Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean much to me, but that doesn't mean I don't have something to say on the matter.
Throughout my life, I’ve had the good fortune of dating very strange women who, by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, were either headed out of my life, or long gone. And, I chalk this up to the fact that I’m a very difficult person to shop for, and I think the sublime torture of buying me gifts between Christmas and Valentine’s Day is far more insanity than any person should ever willingly endure. Eventually, out of sheer frustration, they will just dump me and move onto some other guy with much more clearly defined needs and wants.
My favorite girlfriend in this case would have to be Marie, the sweet gal I dated for a while in college. It was a blast of a relationship, and she really was a pretty decent woman. We had a lot of fun, and as Christmas started approaching, she grew frantic asking me what I wanted.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t need anything.”
“It’s not about what you need,” she said, “it’s about what you want.”
“Well,” I responded after a little thought. “I skipped breakfast today. I’m a little hungry, and I think I want a cheeseburger.”
“I don’t think I can wait that long. How about lunch?”
“You’re an idiot,” she said.
“Hey,” I said. “You’re the one who loves me.”
“You’re a dumb, stupid idiot.” She would rant in her adorable way. “You dumb idiot. Dumb… dumb… dumb… Idiot… idiot… idiot.”
“Does that mean I’m not getting lunch?” I asked.
“We need a break,” she would always say. It was her way of ending any argument –win or lose. “We need a break because you are making me hate you.”
Then she would leave, and I would grab lunch on my own. A few days later, our break was over, the holiday had passed, and love was once again in the air by the time New Year’s rolled around. We were good so long as I didn’t ask about gifts.
However, Valentine’s Day would inevitably roll around, and though I would go out and buy her nice things and plan nice dates and really do everything I could to woo her straight out of her knickers, when the calendar read February 14th, there were two things that were a certainty: Marie and I would argue over gifts, and I would end up spending the night on my recently-divorced buddy’s couch.
It happened the first year of our relationship. After cracking open a bottle of wine and feeding her the delicious dinner I’d cooked for her, I gave her the little gift I bought in an attempt to contrive a nice, special moment.
“How did you know?” she squealed as she pulled a dainty little necklace from the box. “I love it. I love you. But, how did you know I wanted this?”
“You told me,” I said. “Remember?”
“When you clipped the ad out of the Sunday paper and stuck it on my fridge?”
She was funny that way, I guess. Normally, I would just shrug, guzzle wine and wait for the moment when she unleashed her white-hot fury upon me. Somewhere during the course of the evening, her smile of joy and contentment would be transformed by little bits of white froth slowly growing at the corners of her smile. The turning point came when she handed me a very small, quite non-descript, box.
“You know,” I said as I appraised the tiny box. “You really didn’t have to get me anything, honey.”
“I know,” she said flatly as if to remind me that I was stupid for not knowing the unparalleled amount of research she put into finding just the right gift for my happiness. “Open it up. I think you’ll love it.”
I opened the box and peered inside expecting to see an amputated finger or even the collected teeth of all the women who’ve smiled at me since she and I began dating. My face could not hide my confusion, however, and immediately, she spoke.
“You hate it don’t you?”
“No. It’s just…” I said. “Umm…”
“It’s okay,” she said. “We can take it back.”
“You hate it.” She wailed.
“No.” I said. “It’sjust that…”
“It’s just what?” She asked.
“Well, honey,” I said carefully. “It’s just that you gave me an earring.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Isn’t it cool?”
“Sure,” I said as I watched the fire grow in her eyes. “But, we’ve been together for six months now and well…”
“You think it’s too personal?”
“No,” I said. “It’s just that, in six months, you probably noticed that I don’t have my ear pierced.”
“Yes you do,” she said, as if I somehow managed to forget having a lobe punctured over the course of our relationship. “You’re lying to me now.”
“Nope,” I said. “I’ve never had my ear pierced. I think I’d know if I did.”
“You’re a liar,” she wailed. “You lying liar. You just hate me.”
“Is it time for us to take a break now?” I asked.
She and I dated for three years, and I’m pretty certain that every year, she and I went through the same dialogue with only a few slight variations. One year, on my birthday, she bought me a pair of boxer shorts. They were nice, and I liked them; however, when I refused to wear them out in public, an unholy rage was unloaded upon me as a result of my daft idea that most people would probably laugh at me if I walked into a bar wearing my underwear.
For the record, I think she and I are still on a break. Which is good. Had I stuck around, I’m pretty sure I’d only be able to communicate via a series of controlled blinks and grunts.