Some male thoughts on Valentine’s Day

2008-02-13 00:00

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and, just as New Year’s Eve makes us think about our past accomplishments and future goals and Easter makes us wonder what the hell rabbits are doing sneaking around during the middle of the night hiding multi-coloured chocolate eggs, February 14 conjures up thoughts of romance, dreamy candlelit gazes, and “Is it 5.30 pm already? I sure hope the chemist still has a 10-kilogram, heart-shaped box of chocolates without a dent in it.”

Yes, men and women see Valentine’s Day very differently. Right, like they don’t see just about everything differently. Only the stakes are much higher on Valentine’s Day. It’s like the final exam for a relationship except there’s no book you can study, not even a Classics Illustrated to read in five minutes. There are movies which would give a man a good idea of what the day is all about, but there’s just no way he’s going to sit through it since The Rock isn’t in it. Thus, we’re on our own.

A woman’s idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day is to wake up to breakfast in bed with a dozen red roses in a vase on the bedside table. When she goes out to the car, there’s a bouquet of red balloons tied to the aerial that all say “I love you”. At work there’s another floral arrangement — the largest in the province — sitting on her desk. Dinner is at the most romantic restaurant in town where a strolling violinist plays her favourite song tableside, the night ending with a glass of champagne in front of a roaring fire.

A man’s idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day is to wake up and find out it’s been cancelled.

Men, having an inexhaustible ability to rationalise, love to say: “I don’t need to set aside a special day to show you how I feel. It’s the same every day.” This is true, since as a species we’re incapable of showing our feelings 365 days a year. You have to admit, if nothing else we’re consistent. Women, on the other hand, enjoy the trappings of Valentine’s Day — the flowers that die in two days, the chocolate that makes them feel fat and ugly for weeks, and the big stuffed heart filled with sneeze-inducing pollen. Small gestures, but ones that make them very happy.

How did all this get started, anyway? It turns out that Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine who, according to which story you want to believe, was one of two different third-century Christian martyrs, each supposedly executed on February 14. Now there’s a reason to celebrate.

Over the years, Valentine’s Day has metamorphosed from a wake to the second largest card-sending day of the year, the first of course being election day, when every person who’s been dead since the 14th century somehow mails in an absentee ballot. Well, in Chicago anyway. Experts estimate that over a billion Valentine’s Day cards will be exchanged this year, which is three-and-a-half cards for every man, woman and child in the United States. That’s an awful lot of trees being chopped down just so men don’t have to sleep on the couch for a week.

While flowers are highly prized by women as a gesture of love, men are more prone to buy Sweethearts. These, in case you haven’t been in the seasonal aisle of a chemist or grocery store since the day after Christmas, are the tiny tasteless hearts that have such romantic sayings stamped on them as “Be mine”, “Kiss me”, and “Get my drift”. At least they do when they’re readable. And yes, I said “Get my drift”.

Each year, the New England Confectionery Company (better known as Necco) puts new slogans on their hearts. That’s because there’s nothing like giving a loved one a great big bag of chalky hearts with outdated messages to say, “Hey, they were cheaper than usual because they’re last year’s”. In the past, the company has added such heart-melting sentiments as “SMS me,” “What’s up?” and “Diva”. This year’s eight billion hearts — which comes to 26 for every person in the country — will feature weather and nature-related sayings such as “In a fog”, “Nature lover” and “Do Good”. I don’t know about you, but I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve won the heart of a woman by leaning over a romantic dinner table, taking her hands in mine, gazing deep into her eyes and saying: “My darling … do good.”

So you see, contrary to what die-hard romantics like Jane Seymour and Camille Paglia say, love really has changed over the years. What hasn’t changed is the fact that if you don’t get your butt out and buy a gift for your wife, girlfriend, or any woman you ever hope to speak to again in your life currently, you might as well disconnect your phone, change your e-mail address and join a monastery. And don’t bother SMSing them from there to tell them to do good. It will be too late. — FeatureNET.

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