Hallmark, He-Went-to-Jared, and the rest of the commercial world of Valentine’s Day conveniently give our men ways to prove they love us.
The card industry has given our spouses/fiancés/boyfriends the option of paying a small fortune for someone else’s corny poems printed on nice paper. While that used to be a cheap way for these guys to get through Valentine’s Day, cards today cost a small fortune and keep going up in proportional cost as the companies that make them fill the racks with cards that WON’T SHUT UP. Standing at the card rack today means hearing a litany of music, baying mules and farting sounds. At least it entertains our men!
Meanwhile, the florist industry has given our boys the option of using an even greater fortune to buy us the smelly, delicate creations of nature that many of us love until we are unfortunate enough to find the credit card receipt and realize how much a delivery costs these days. Of course the grocery store chains have jumped on that bandwagon to offer the option for the last-minute lovers to pick up some unnaturally blue-tipped roses that fit the bill for the Big Day of February 14, but by February 15 are black and dumped in the garbage.
Then there’s the gift that keeps on giving, that is the start of every kiss, that shows you have an open heart, and that lasts forever: jewelry. I have never bought into the glitz and glitter of expensive gems and don’t even have an engagement ring by choice. But I am somewhat in awe of a man brave enough to pick out a piece of jewelry for a woman because it’s like picking out a piece of technology for a man: you truly want to show a high degree of love, but the recipient is stuck with the result no matter how gaudy or faulty it may be.
Yes, the commercial world has given men lots of options while we women suffer the anxiety of how to say “I love you” to a gender that prefers what’s in the candy box to the shape of that box.
Let me give you a clue that’s not based on gender at all. One of the best Valentine’s gifts I ever got (and that’s pretty tough to measure because I happen to have a husband who is really good at gift-giving) came to me during my single years. I had been really trying (and succeeding) on Weight Watchers when my brother, who was trying to cheer me up, handed me a big red heart. This is a man who knows me very well, who knows the struggle of weight loss and the joy of success and who knew what I was going through. I was shocked that he would resort to giving me candy to try to cheer me up.
Until I opened the heart: he had thrown away every piece of candy and carefully nestled a juicy white mushroom in each of the chocolate-colored (and still smelling heavenly) paper cups.
Now that’s how you tell a woman, whether she’s a lover or a sister, that you know who she is.
Genilee Swope Parente