I run into the market for some milk. I navigate the crowded card & candy aisle. Worry-slapped men blink panicked eyes: The funny card or the sentimental one? Box -shaped box of chocolates or heart-shaped? Flowers or… Forget it. Nobody’s worth $50 and a half-dozen weeds. Condoms- presumptuous or just well prepared or both with a side of wishful thinking?
I am just here for the dairy, so I push a buggy past these Valentine’s rookies bidding them good fortune for all their sweet-hearted effort. I think to call Tom at that moment and leave a three-word message. “I love you” would be appropriate, I guess, but I was thinking something a little more along the lines of “You are welcome“. For years, I’ve high-fived myself for missing the Demanding Diva memo. My low-maintenance insistence that I could really not care less about the showy gestures of love I took to mean that I was doing my partner a favor. Every year, as stores stock shelves of pink and white goodies and flower prices skyrocket like a bad mortgage, I remind my most lovingest dude how blessed he is to have me (mostly for my modest and totally humble demeanor but also for a number of other great qualities). Despite his impressive understanding of my easy-to-please self, he still asks what I’d like as a token of his affections on this annual Day of Lovey Dovey. Clockwork. I recite the following monologue and wait for his all too gracious smile:
Flowers? How about you just hand me $50?
Jewelry? The only piece of jewelry I ever coveted was Susie Wilcox’s turtle-shaped mood ring in grade school. That snarky witch traded a 5th grader a Twinkie for the jewels one day at recess. Oh, what’s that have to do with Valentine’s Day? Nothing much, I guess. Just to say I’m not interested in bling unless it’s shaped like a reptile and will glow red when I’m pissy.
Candies? I’m eating healthier which is to say I’M STARVING. Come at me with some chocolate, and things are bound to end poorly. Possible outcomes: A) In a fit of hunger-rage, you’ll lose a thumb in the process of handing me said treats or B) I’ll have no choice but to assume you are a terrorist, forming sneaky plots to undermine my taut tummy with sugary sinfulness.
Cards? You love me like the fire of a thousand suns? Life with me is heaven? Images of rainbows and love birds and glitter worked into one greeting from Hallmark? That sounds like a wicked bad acid trip. Find me a card that says something real: Thanks for not making me sleep on the couch/ I just so happen to love stretchmarks/ Your snoring is sweet, sweet, wilderness music to my ears, Lady Bear.
Weeks ago, when Tom skirted around this issue of what the skirt of the house would like for Valentine’s Day, I jumped paragraph deep into the multiple reasons gifts are whack. Just as I finished Point XXVI and started in on my thesis statement on why loading the dishwasher is far superior to buying roses, I noticed a disappointed look on the sir’s face. All of these years I’d assured the poor mister he was the lucky one to have such a practical gal, I’d overlooked one major argument:
Sometimes one can be so severely low-maintenance
that high-maintenance makes things look easy.
In case you don’t follow scientific speech, I was the “one” in that little revelation. That flustered, sighing look in his eyes made one thing abundantly clear. He didn’t mind the $50 flowers, the sappy cards, the crowded store aisles, the effort. He wanted to do something nice for me, and by chopping all socially-acceptable gift ideas off at the knees, I’d made his heartfelt gesture feel like a headache
Love is compromise (and cards and roses and cookies shapes like hearts). So over the next few days I made an obnoxious number of mentions about my sudden and serious love of flowers, heart-patterened gift bags, and love sonnets saturated in magestic rainbow imagery. I would undo years of denouncing sweetheart gifts and throw the generous guy a bone. I would convince him to get me these somewhat stereotypical trinkets because it makes him glad to show his love for me. Quite frankly (and despite my crude frankness) I am gladder than glad to get that love.
Just when I thought I’d sold him with genius lines like “Nothing makes my heart happier than carnations and bows and also mystery chocolates in cardboard boxes. Hint. Hint. HINT!”, he flipped the script on my anti-sappy self and announced that we would be doing something different for Valentine’s Day this year. Different? Different just when I told you Same Old was okay? Different like I’m going to have to wear a bra? Stay up late? Eat like a lady? I talked myself into a mushy, sugary sweet corner. There better not be violinists. I will get downright hostile if I see a dainty salad fork.
Saturday night approached. I painted my nails. I fastened my bra. I spritzed on enough perfume to make myself sneeze and for the love of fancy, I wore tights. Tight, tight tights. As we pulled from the drive, Tom beamed with the pride of a man who’d outdone himself. I began to sweat. To my horror, his plans for the evening were enough for him to actually woo himself. I cursed myself for convincing the poor guy to go the roses-and-ridiculous route. I willed myself to suddenly love things that normal ladies love. I pleaded with myself to think Brad Pitt was dreamy and flower arrangements were significant and diamonds are my very best, best friend. I snapped the digging band of tights I had no business wearing, and said a silent, beggy prayer: Dear Funny Valentine, please don’t woo me. Don’t wine and dine. Don’t shmooze me. Here’s to hoping for a sap-less evening of arcade games. Here’s to hoping for the comfortable kind of love where we wear sweatpants and watch re-runs. Here’s to hop- God. Here’s just to hoping.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Check back tomorrow to see what The Dude’s big date involved. Three bucks says I ripped my tights and offended most of everybody in town!
What was your favorite Valentine’s gift/ date?
Are you so low-maintenance it hurts?