Valentine’s Day: A User’s Guide for Men

I’m probably the most romantic creature on this planet.  I cry during the love scene in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for God’s sake!  However, it has recently come to my attention that Valentine’s Day has gotten way out of hand.  It used to be that the only people who were getting rich off romance were those grubbers down at Hallmark.  I’m not one to brag, but I’ve bought a card or two in my time.  These days, however, come February 14th, it seems like everybody’s got their hand in your pocket.  Cupid has gone commercial, and he’s charging megabucks for those arrows.

Back in the day, when love didn’t come at the end of an eHarmony questionnaire, people had love affairs.  (Relationships were what you had with your cousins and co-workers.)  For those of you under thirty, a love affair was that brilliant time when nothing mattered to you more than the dull ache of your heart, the sound of her breathing and the solitary sight of her in a crowded room.  In those days, no words remembered love, no action spoke its name and no credit card was its benefactor: the only cure was proximity.  Love meant close enough to touch, and when it didn’t — it hurt.  That was when Valentine’s Day was still special.  It was the unspoken promise that couples made to each other.  But enough about that: I’m here to bury St. Valentine, not to praise him.

(Before I go any further, and the politically correct crowd start organizing the lynch mob, I realize that relationships come in a variety of permutations and combinations.  Unfortunately, I have a limited working knowledge of much beyond the male side of male and female.  Therefore, that’s what I’m dealing with; anything else would be just guessing.  If you’re looking for all-inclusive or if heterosexual offends you, stop now and re-Google.  It will save us both a lot of time.)  Personally, I think it’s a sad day when people need to put a disclaimer on innocent stuff like Valentines, but such is the world we live in.  Anyway …

Recently, Valentine’s Day has taken a distinct turn for the worst.  It has gone from a simple “Be my Valentine” card at dinner to over-the-top romantic gymnastics that would make Casanova wonder WTF.   Here’s the problem.  Regardless of how much they lie to themselves and others, men do not know what women want.  They never did.  They’re never going to.  And that includes romance.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  Men know all about the clichés: those moonlit walks everybody talks about, the candlelight, the roses and the hearts and angels’ music.  But when it gets down and dirty, single tear in the corner of the female eye, 99.99% of men are lost.  However, rather than admit that romance escapes them (like the last inmate going over the wall) they throw money at it.  This is a traditional male strategy that’s been backfiring since before Antony gave Cleopatra, Syria, Persia and all points east to make up for the annoying fact he wasn’t Julius Caesar.  Unfortunately, having once set these cash-eating bolas in motion, it was only a matter of time before they started spinning out of control.  These days, men are waking up on January 2nd, knowing that in six weeks, they better come up with something fantastic and poetic or ladylove is going to be pissed off until way past Labour Day.  And every guy older than Justin Bieber knows that that’s going to take some serious dinero.  It’s an anxiety trap that men have been building for themselves for the last decade, and it’s not pretty.

Therefore, since I am a public-spirited fellow and do not wish to see my brothers suffering needlessly, I’m going to let everybody in on a little secret.  I know what women want.  No, I’m not going to give that kind of information away free, but since I do have it, I can give all men a bit of advice.  Boys, put away your wallets and change your thinking.  Quit having a relationship, and try having a love affair.  Lovers don’t send bouquets of roses. (She’s not in love with the delivery man.)  They hand deliver a single flower.  Lovers don’t make reservations for romantic dinners, weeks in advance; they show up unexpectedly with a two hot dog lunch because it seems like a good idea at the time.  They don’t schedule together time with cooking classes, or dance lessons; they cook, they dance and they prefer the company of the one they love.  They don’t fit it in on Tuesday nights after yoga.  Yes, it’s a busy world, and there are kids and jobs and mortgages and insurance and on and on.  Big wow!  The truth remains that two people playing grab ass for a quick couple of minutes in the kitchen while the pasta’s cooking is worth more than any number of prefabricated date nights.  Lovers don’t have a script, and they don’t have a schedule.  They just enjoy each other’s company.

Tomorrow, guys, remember Valentine’s Day is for lovers – full stop.  It isn’t for people in “a relationship” who “have feelings for” each other.  That’s just a generous way of saying, “Maybe I don’t love you all that much.”  And of all the things that women want, that’s not one of them.

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