I asked my wife the other day for some good ideas for a column about bad gifts I have given her for Valentines’ day. I wondered if her list of bad gifts would be the same as mine. I am amazed at how awful some men are at gift giving.
I have tried to be romantic but Emmy is generally a practical person. In the dawning years of our marriage I would buy her a nice heart shaped box of chocolates and maybe some roses, or wine.
She likes flowers but thinks roses are too expensive and last for too short a time. She would rather have a cheap bunch of carnations. Her practicality extends to a lot of areas and I have learned through trial and error what not to get, I am still learning.
She said she doesn’t want expensive jewelry, so diamonds are out. I once bought her a new Volkswagen Rabbit as a surprise, even though we didn’t have money for it. She told me in loud plain English, she doesn’t want me to do that again.
She doesn’t like living, furry things for presents either. I once surprised her with Ginger, a gorgeous purebred Red Setter. The puppy was beautiful, but every brain had been bred from her head. Ginger was friendly but afraid of her own shadow and she ate marbles. I was reminded for the life of the dog that dumb animals are not a good gift for my wife.
I bought Emmy a socket set one year and training books on small engine repair, I thought it a practical gift and for a while she did too. She tried for a couple of months to understand the mechanics of an internal combustion engine but gave up after a while. The socket set sits in my tool box. I got her a small chain-saw one year and she didn’t like that either. She has tried to show appreciation but I can tell, she has been disappointed on occasion.
Our practicality-over-romance in gifts has gotten so broad through the years that we usually give each other things we need. We bought each other office chairs and then a GPS for business trips. Appliances are too practical. We could use a new dryer but I am certain it wouldn’t be received as a good gift for Valentines’ Day.
One year I gave her sexy lingerie, which I thought would be as much for me as for Emmy. It had a lot of white feminine see-through mesh stuff and bright red hearts all over the place. She put it on in the other room and called out upon entering the bedroom saying, “I don’t think you are going to like this”.
It looked so much better in my imagination. Emmy is a good looking woman but the negligee looked like a skimpy clown outfit. All she needed was white face and a red rubber ball for a nose - we both laughed hysterically.
Our talk about bad and/or practical gifts continued.
Emmy said, “I think it is so silly to fall for advertising that makes a man feel guilty about not buying a six thousand dollar diamond bracelet for Valentines’ day.”
Half scheming in the back of my mind, looking for a good idea for a V day gift, I asked Emmy what a good gift would be. She paused, thought a moment and being the true romantic she is, she replied, “I’d like my toilet fixed.”
“Fixing her toilet”, would be a great disguise as a euphemism for something sexy, but she really has been unhappy with the flushing abilities of our toilet. I have again and again adjusted the float valve, announced it repaired only to have it malfunction two days later, not completely emptying every time when flushed.
Romance is so different after multi-decades of marriage. It’s sad when, “How about fixing my toilet” seems like a romantic come-on to me.
Maybe I should try a puppy again..