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Love is Patient, Love is Kind, It Plans Valentine’s Day, It Does Not Try to Get You to Do it Yourself

Posted Feb 09 2011 9:05am

Eric and I were walking through Target on Saturday morning and as we approached the checkout, he turned to me and said, “So…you haven’t given me any hints about what you’d like to do for Valentine’s Day.”

I put on my best, “What day?” face, as though I was completely unaware that one of my favorite holidays was approaching.

“Hm, I don’t know,” I said, turning away from the large Valentine’s display I was looking at. “What do you want to do for Valentine’s Day?”

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have an answer for that, and the conversation died once we got to the checkout counter. We got back to it later that day. He asked me what I wanted to do or what I thought were good gift ideas. I answered all questions with a long pause and then another question. “What is YOUR idea of a good Valentine’s Day date? What do YOU want as a gift?”

But whenever I’d ask what he wanted, he’d raise his eyebrows and get this little smirk on his face, at which point I’d have to say, “Not an option!”

(I’m pretty sure every woman who has ever asked her boyfriend what he wants as a gift has gotten this same smirk, as every guy thinks of the same one thing they want when their girlfriend poses that question. Once the smirk has been thrown out there, every girlfriend then gets affronted and huffy at the smirk, because…no. Just…no.)

“You wanna make a sex tape? We can make a sex tape.” I offered.

Sometimes I think Eric doesn’t know when to take me seriously anymore, because he just shrugged, like I’d asked him if he’d rather go to Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Suddenly, as we were ineffectively discussing plans, he realized what day of the week February 14th actually fell on. Total dread came across his face and I just knew.

“Rachel…this might actually be the end of our relationship,” he started.

I was silent, so deep was my shock, awe, and disappointment.

Actually, there was no shock involved. I was silent due to his amazing predictability. And also my disappointment.

“Does…K State play next Monday night?” I said.

He sighed. “It’s not just that they play,” he said. “But they play KU at home. If it were any other game…”

Given that Monday isn’t an ideal day for a Valentine’s Day date, I had already considered that it might be better to make plans for the weekend before. On the other hand, the fact that he was requesting that we make plans for a different day due to a basketball game was enough to make me forget that I had considered that because…well, just because, you know? (I know you know.)

I told him I’d take his request into consideration.

Sunday night, we got back on the topic of Valentine’s Day again.

“You have to give me some direction,” he said. “Hints at least. I have no idea what you want to do or what I should give you.”

The truth was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I only know what I didn’t want to do. A little road trip to a little Texas B&B had sounded like a good idea, but we did the hotel room thing for New Year’s, so it just didn’t thrill me. I also didn’t want to go out for a nice dinner. I’d rather a guy spend money on something that I really want instead of a one-time thing that’s just going to make me gain weight. And while I wasn’t opposed to cooking, I didn’t want to make me cooking the main event. I mean, I cook for us all the time, so to make that special would mean a lot of effort on my part. And since this is basically as close to I get as an effort-free day until I get knocked up and start milking Mother’s Day for all it’s worth, I wanted to keep my effort pretty minimal. So I told him that (except the part about Mother’s Day).

“OK, that’s a start,” he said. “What would you like to do?”

I sat there thinking in silence for a few minutes, chewing my bottom lip, racking my brain for recent Groupons that had seemed like a great date idea. Finally I said, “I want to do something…that is…fun!”

He was not as excited about this hint as I had expected.

The thing was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or even what I would want as a gift. Per Rule #23 , Valentine’s Day gifts should either be an experience gift or something luxurious or even frivolous — everyone should feel a little spoiled — but I had no ideas. Normally I am so easy to delight and shop for, so this bothered me. I thought I was more materialistic than this. My Things I Want But Don’t Need List is like my Netflix queue — I always keep six items in it. Then I realized, Oh…well, perhaps the problem is I’m just spoiled every day. I’m sure Eric/my mother/Chase Bank would all agree on that.

I looked deep into his eyes. “Eric,” I said. “What you’re doing is pretty much asking me to plan my own birthday party.”

Which he was! I mean, let’s be honest — that’s why I hadn’t brought up Valentine’s Day on my own. The whole fun thing about Valentine’s Day is that it’s special but, on some level, a surprise or a treat. I know that all guys want direction from girls on what they should do for Valentine’s Day and I get it — they’d rather know so they don’t mess up. But they don’t seem to understand that that ruins the most exciting part about Valentine’s Day. Where is the romance in that? You want me to send you a list for a gift that is really just supposed to be a thoughtful little thing? That’s actually worse than planning your own birthday party. That’s like planning your own surprise birthday party.

I sighed. “Eric,” I said. “I’m not saying that Valentine’s Day is a test, exactly, but…”

I tried not to crack a smile as I said this. Tried and failed.

“It’s an opportunity!” I said in an attempt to recover.

“See? You can’t even say this with a straight face!” he said.

It wasn’t a test though. It’s not like I knew exactly what I wanted to do and would be pissed if he didn’t do it. But he continued to make his case for having direction, arguing, as far as I could tell, for all of mankind at that point. If he could just convince me to tell him exactly what I wanted, he’d be bringing men everywhere one step closer to not screwing up Valentine’s Day.

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll tell you exactly what I want to do. But then I also get to choose what day we do it. You plan it — you pick the night.”

When faced with the choices of missing a basketball game or blowing Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend decided to take his chances with planning Valentine’s Day. I’m going to pretend it’s because he’s super confident in his date-planning abilities.

We’ve discussed this before in reference to Christmas and ultimately, it seemed that for Christmas, it’s best to give a list. But Valentine’s Day, is, to me, a different beast, and I do not like the idea of planning my own date or making a list. But before I go on with gift suggestions and tell you how this conversation ended, I want to hear your thoughts on the matter of Valentine’s Day planning!

Have you had this conversation with an SO before (including the smirk)? Do you look at Valentine’s Day as a test/opportunity/surprise party…or are you happy to give very clear directions? And, most important…what do you think are good Valentine’s Day ideas?

Please share — men everywhere need to know. (And so do I.)

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