My Funny Valentine

Give the guy a break!

Family Circle 2/15/05

By Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant

When it comes to Valentine's Day most men wish they could press the fast forward button on the remote and zip right past the occasion like it's a commercial for feminine hygiene products.

It's not their fault. Valentine's Day is not an equal opportunity holiday. For one thing, most women begin their romantic gift shopping the day after Christmas, so we've got a huge head start. We also know that the only thing most guys want for Valentine's Day is the same thing they want for Labor Day, Memorial Day and National No-Socks Day - power tools. No, I mean sex. Although power tools are always a good backup gift.

For guys it's a lot harder because we women have unrealistic expectations. We want our husbands to suddenly become experts in the art of romance, despite the fact that on the other 364 days of the year the most romantic thing they do is kill spiders.

We want him to cook us a meal that doesn't leave behind empty SpaghettiOs cans. We don't just want a dozen roses, we want him to arrange them in a vase with baby's breath and a few daffodils. In other words, when it comes to Valentine's Day, we want our man to be Martha Stewart in the body of (your choice here) George Clooney / Antonia Banderas / Hugh Jackman / Brad Pitt.

We need to cut men some slack. They deserve brownie points for just remembering that the holiday falls in February. Alter all, men's brains just work differently from ours. We might be able to remember the birthday of every person we've ever met, along with their shoe size and favorite color. But guys, well, they struggle to recall the names of their kids' teachers.

Men have also been convinced by advertising that there are only four acceptable Valentine's gifts: chocolate, flowers, lingerie and jewelry. This makes shopping really difficult for them because they can't pick up any of these things at the local auto supply store.

Not to mention that each gift category is fraught with possible trouble. Your man may hesitate to buy you a 12-pound box of chocolates because he fears you'll eventually ask, "Does this empty heart-shaped box make me look fat?"

Flowers are trouble because there are simply too many choices. He may go into a florist thinking he'll get you a dozen red roses but, wait a minute, arenít you allergic to roses? Or is that milk?

And let's not even talk about lingerie. Your guy may act as if he wants to go into Victoria's Secret when he's with you, but the truth is he'd rather have your mother move in. In addition, purchasing lingerie sets a man up for the ultimate failure. If it's too small, you may cry because you think he's trying to tell you to lose weight. If it's too big, you may cry because you think he thinks you're overweight. And if it's just the right size, you may cry out of sheer joy. But tears of any kind are frightening to a man bearing gifts.

Jewelry? Just forget it. He figures his jewelry-shopping duty ended when he gave you the engagement ring.

So when you think about it, if your husband presents you with a Shop-Vac this Valentine's Day, just smile sweetly, say thank-you and remember that the poor guy did the best he could under the circumstances. Now reward him by buying yourself something nice from Victoria's Secret and wearing it while vacuuming out the car. You can't get more romantic than that.