Here we go again. Feb. 14 pitilessly approaches, gentlemen, and you have to think of something fast. I, of all people, have been assigned to help you. This may not end well.
The entire premise that the romantic onus is on you may seem sexist, but in my experience, women have very little to worry about on Valentine’s Day, apart from how abjectly you’re about to blow it. The ideal gift for most guys I know is the same thing every year. (Two hints: It costs nothing and fits perfectly).
For you, things are trickier. On Monday, my Metro colleague Anne Hines offered some perceptive if terrifying advice: “Begin with the gift. The gift is vital. But do not stress yourself thinking a gift has to be big or expensive. It just has to be perfect…To a woman, a gift says, ‘This is how I see you. This is how I feel about you in my deepest most truthful heart of hearts.’”
Yeah, thanks, Anne. That’s a load off. Just find the flawless, enduring symbol of your souls entwined. In a store somewhere. By Saturday. Shall I compare thee to this heart-shaped pendant thou shalt never wear again?
Even if by some miracle or fluke you nail it this year with the perfect gift, the perfect day, the perfect words, what about next year? How are you going to top yourself?
The surest way of surviving Mandatory Romantic Gesture Day is being a little less of a schmuck to your beloved the other 364 days of the year, and hence having less to make up for with this annual Hail Mary. This does you no good right now, of course, and for that I am truly sorry. You should probably stop wasting your ever-shortening time reading this.
Also, never underestimate the power of dumb luck. That was my way out, my only way. I found someone so perfect for me that, among her many thrilling virtues, she hates the pressure of these occasions, too, so we skip them. (This, I know, is no good to you either. You can’t have her.)
Neither of us has ever broken down and unilaterally bought a surprise gift, thereby violating our mutual non-aggravation pact and upending our domestic nirvana. Even as our friends mock our lameness, we smugly congratulate each other on having beaten the system.
But she’s got a birthday coming up, a big one.
Here we go again.
– Steve Collins lives, writes and walks in Ottawa.