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Posts Tagged ‘romance’

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A Hopeless Unromantic

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

My husband is not a romantic. Every holiday where he is supposed to buy me something causes him great stress. Take Valentine’s Day. Which happens to be today. He woke up this morning upset that it was Valentine’s Day. He wants the whole holiday to disappear. He informed me that he hadn’t got me anything and he hoped I was okay with it. I wasn’t, but… what could I do?

Since we’ve been married now for 16 years (our anniversary is tomorrow), I know he loves me. He shows me this everyday when we wake up. As soon as he sees that I’m awake and we meet gazes, he lights up and beams a thousand-watt smile at me. He is the only one in the world who has ever looked at me this way. Not the dozen or so suitors before him, nor my ex ever looked at me this way. Frank, no doubt, loves me dearly.

However, the man absolutely HATES buying me things. Loathes, despises and abhors buying me things. He hates Valentine’s Day, Christmas, my birthday and our anniversary. In the weeks preceding any of the aforementioned holidays, any reference to the holiday makes his body grow rigid. His handsome features harden; his shoulders droop; a blackish cloud forms over his head. He heaves a sigh, then faces me, hands folded in lap. “Please outline your exact expectations for this holiday,” he requests, looking like he’s ordering his last meal before his execution.

Since I am used to all this loathing— but still want presents despite his decidedly glum approach—I normally tell him exactly what I expect. I have no idea why he can’t figure this out. We’ve been together for TWENTY BLOODY YEARS. Yet, with each holiday, he treats it like it’s a whole new form of torture I’ve devised for him.

When I tell him what I want (which are usually surprises or I might as well go buy myself something, a card and sign it for him) his face falls, he sighs and he jots down some notes like he’s filling out a tax form. He nods, miserable, throws the note aside and dives into a search on the Internet on one of his favorite topics to cleanse himself of the unpleasantness. Then I don’t know what he does. But on the morning of the occasion, I find nicely wrapped gifts waiting for me. Or nothing and a wad of excuses about how he had no time to shop, the stores were too busy, the dog ate his wallet, etc, etc. and another wad of promises that he will get me something. The present shows up eventually. He’s never let me down without “permission”. But he still treats the whole thing as if he’s getting a root canal without anesthesia.

What is wrong with him? How bloody hard is it to go to a freakin’ store—since we are mere blocks from ALL of them—and pick me up something?  Every holiday he asks what I want as if he’s just met me. I tell him the same thing every year. Look at my office. Hard rock, skulls, a freakin’ dirt clod in the shape of a heart, dude. Anything. Ever heard of FLOWERS?

I have to give him credit, he used to bring me flowers weekly. I was very touched by this until he told me why he bought them. Because there was a guy who had a little stand at the exit to the parking lot where he worked. He got them because the man practically threw them in the car as he was driving by. What the hell was he doing, telling his wife that the only reason he bought the flowers was because he drove right by the stand? How can he be this dense?

But my Frank is an honorable man. He never exaggerates the truth. He doesn’t believe in platitudes. He doesn’t believe in little white lies to make me feel good. He always tells me the unvarnished truth. While it works great for communication on large issues, it SUCKS for romance. What would cause any man to tell his wife that the only reason he bought her flowers was because he couldn’t avoid the seller?

I am astounded by this aspect of my husband. Sure, I get it. I understand he doesn’t want to be railroaded by some large corporation and blackmailed into buying me some stupid Valentine crap. He is a corporate rebel like I am. Which is why we get along so well. But Frank seems to go way out of his way to avoid being romantic. He seems to think our relationship is above and beyond all these petty displays of affection. What counts is that he loves me, nurtures me, supports me and listens to my rambling monologues about the pros and cons of dying my hair colors not found in nature. And I agree, I think the media hypes Valentine’s Day and makes it a Guilt Fest for Guys. A National Day of Emotional Blackmail. Buy me those freakin’ diamonds, buddy, or you don’t get any.

Okay, granted, Frank is in almost all ways, a great husband. He brings me icepacks for my injuries when I fall off my scooter, he formatted my books and put them online, he does the laundry. These are all huge pluses. But come on. Who else is gonna get me a freakin’ Valentine? No one, that’s who. Now that I have a husband who considers himself above these tacky holidays, I don’t get Valentines or chocolates or flowers unless I put a gun to his head, tell him what store to buy them, the exact size box, everything.

This year, I really wanted a box of Godiva chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a box of Godiva chocolates. I’ve bought them for my mother, but no one has ever bought me any. So I asked Frank for one. You’d think I asked for a freakin’ gold-plated Humvee. His brow furrowed, he frowned. “How much are THOSE?” he asked acidly. Then he went on a tirade about what a ripoff Godiva was and how over-priced their chocolates were. How pretentious. He glumly agreed and threw the catalog I handed him onto a chair and turned back to his computer, muttering about how stupid Valentine’s Day was. Lucky for him, he got sick for the two weeks preceding Valentine’s Day. Two days ago, I let him off the hook. He looked like he won the lottery. He practically danced all the way to his office. And he was still sick.

I still can’t believe how blind he is to this stupid need of mine. I. Write. Romance. Novels. Yet this tells him NOTHING? People who write romance novels are hopeless romantics. All the heroes in my books buy their girlfriends and wives lavish gifts without being asked or railroaded into it. They actually enjoy it. They like making their women happy. They do it for the sheer pleasure of seeing their lovers happy. They don’t need a gun put to their head. They anticipate the holidays; they don’t even ask what she wants. They observe her and can tell what she’d like. They bring her flowers spontaneously. Jewelry. Cars. And this is all within six months of the relationship. All my heroes are romantic fools.

Unfortunately, these men only reside in my imagination. I honestly don’t think they really exist outside of romance novels. I think the idea of a romantic male is a myth. And, I do really get this. I know if I put real men into my books, my novels would never freakin’ sell and no woman would want to read them. Heavy sigh.

So here I am, on a Valentine’s Day with no card, no flowers, no candy, no nothing. Tomorrow is my anniversary. Yet another day without any recognition. We will be going out to lunch, that will be nice, but unfortunately, I will have to do without a gift—you aren’t going to believe this. Frank just walked in and handed me a chocolate rose.

Now I can’t even complain about him. See? He bought me that just to torture me. Just to negate this whole column. This is what’s wrong with marriage. Right when you have them pegged, right when you’re sure you have them proven wrong and unjust, they turn around and surprise you. Jerks.

Now I feel like a total ungrateful selfish bitch. Probably because in the scheme of things, complaining about Frank not buying me stupid crap IS ungrateful and selfish.

This is the seamy underside of marriage. It messes with your mind. You get all caught up in these stupid made-up holidays and someone tells you that your mate is supposed to shower you with meaningless gifts and that will prove his love to you. I blame society! I blame the advertisers! I am not selfish, I have been brainwashed!

All right. I’m going to go eat my chocolate and hope I don’t choke on it. Stupid Valentine’s Day. Now I really hate it. And tomorrow is our anniversary. My present to Frank will be NO MORE SILLY EXPECTATIONS.

‘Course a small token of appreciation for sixteen years of marriage wouldn’t be a bad thing…

©2008, Janet Periat

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