Life happens: Valentine's Day, Schmalentine's Day
Feb. 2, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 4, 2012 at 8:05 p.m.
If my husband were married to a different sort of woman, chances are he would dread the month of February every year. Not only is Valentine's Day coming up, but our wedding anniversary is on Feb. 28.
In "guy" world, that's like the ultimate double whammy.
Luckily, however, he is married to me, a woman who hates V-Day and was perfectly OK with celebrating our first wedding anniversary last year by going apartment hunting and was then thrilled when it ended with a signed lease. Perhaps I'm just unsentimental, but to me, not being homeless was a way better gift than, say, a scented candle.
I've never really been into all the hoopla surrounding Valentine's Day. Even as a kid, I never understood why I and my 24 other classmates were forced to give cards featuring cartoon characters to each other. I didn't really want Bobby L. to "Bee Mine" and yet I still had to sign my name to that card of the bee hugging the honeycomb.
See, even back then I had an idea of how Valentine's Day forces romance into a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter, pink and red decorated box. It's a completely insincere holiday disguised as supposedly the most romantic day of the year.
Call me a cynic if you will, but I don't find tasteless, chalky candy with generic messages such as "Luv U" and "Tweet Me!" and singing teddy bears romantic. Nor do I find it romantic waiting in line for an hour at a restaurant where my husband and I can split an appetizer, entree and some dessert called "Lover's Brownie Delight" for only $20.
But it's not like I'm some cold robot or some weird emo girl who finds scabs sexy. I'm still a red-blooded American girl who cries at "Love, Actually."
It's just that what I find romantic is my husband emptying the dishwasher before I wake up in the morning and then coming home with vodka, cheeseburgers and a stack of books he thought I'd like that he grabbed from the free book table at work under his arm. And then he tells me I look hot in my sweatpants.
When I asked my husband what he found romantic, he said "Um ... I like it when you cook me dinner. And there was that one time* you folded my laundry. That was pretty romantic."
(*Domestic goddess I am not.)
And that's the thing. Every person has a different idea of what they find romantic. In fact, when I did a brief survey of my female family and friends about what they find romantic, not a single one said "roses, chocolates and going to a restaurant where I can't pronounce half the menu."
For example, my friend Michelle said "Random little surprises of things I love but don't buy for myself. Tj (her husband) doing the laundry. And holding hands."
My cousin Carrie, a married mom of two, said "Love notes and doing something that he doesn't want to do but does it happily, like taking a walk or playing card games at a cafe. And anything that would actually take some thought or effort."
My friend Kimberly, a newlywed, said "A kiss goodbye and a kiss hello when I see my husband. That my parents still dance together in the living room to the radio after 38 years of marriage. And that my grandpa would pick my granny wildflowers every spring until he could no longer drive."
My former co-worker Allison said, "I'd say taking goofy little excursions together, even if they aren't to 'romantic' places. Just being alone together, making memories and having fun."
And my friend Misty perhaps summed it up best when she said, "Anything that has been personalized, not red roses, but your favorite tabloid magazine and your favorite wine or whatever you're into. Also, anything that's 'just because' and hasn't been prompted by a birthday, anniversary or holiday."
See, fellas, we know you feel obligated to buy us worthless crap on Valentine's Day. But it doesn't have to be that way. While there are some women out there who really do want pink and frilly and mass-produced consumer products on Feb. 14, in more cases than you would think, cleaning the kitchen and dancing with us in the living room on Feb. 15 will get you more points than giving us a box of chocolates on the day before.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: We will still eat the chocolates though ... probably all in one sitting).
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section. Comment on this story at www.victoriaadvocate.com.