- Illustration: Paul Myrick
Is there anything more pathetic than a guy showing up with a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a fistful of flowers on Valentines Day? Sure, its better than nothing at all, but its got train wreck written all over it. Sadly, the generic, no-thought V-Day gift is instinctive for guys. In fact, recent archeological studies have uncovered cave drawings featuring the FTD florist. Of course, men pulled hair for sex back then, so its easy to see how the male requirements for a happy Valentines Day evolved.
Women want more than sex they need more. The way men require 12 hours of ESPN a week, women require the pampering that tells them theyre special to us in more ways than Ill sleep on the wet spot. For women, romance is not about sex, and its certainly about more than Valentines Day. Women want massages and long walks on the beach. Men, on the other hand, equate romance to an hour of oral sex, preferably with a plate of nachos served to them immediately afterwards.
Romance vs. sex is the Hatfields vs. McCoys of gender minus, of course, the gun play and moonshine. (Though for some guys, guns and moonshine would be a great gift.) Valentines Day just brings the issue to the fore like a neon sign. While the womans sign might say Romance me with a bubble bath, the guys says Were you talking to me? So, are we gonna do it or not?
Not to trivialize the desires of either gender, but this is a fundamental difference. Once men can break the Its all about the nookie barrier, they will get more nookie. Sound confusing? It is, a little, but its worth it, trust me.
Guys have long suffered in the romance department, and we could blame it at least in part on poor role models, such as ones inthe Oval Office.
Its not like guys dont care about romance, its just something were born without, like ovaries or gills. And were not taught it like algebra. Only after exhaustive trial and error, and many frustrating failures, do we begin to see the light. Thats why, ladies, you get flowers and candy for a decade before your guy learns that youd like something less cliché or, worse, forgets the occasion all together.
So, Valentines Day, the romance Super Bowl, is upon us, and women are hoping, praying their guys will turn into Don Juan if just for one night. If you give them Don Johnson, Don Drysdale or even Juan Gonzalez, you are going to be one sad, lonely puppy.
Its not hard to become a romantic sap. First remember, as Ive told you, that romance does not equal sex woman arent that shallow. We need to go a little deeper. So consider this a romance road map, if you will, a guide to what she wants, and how you can figure it out.
The Surprise Offensive
If all is fair in love and war, then you should be able to use some of the same strategies, right? No, I dont mean you should flank her rear troops. Send her a bouquet of daisies for no damn good reason. Leave a note under her windshield wiper to tell her what she means to you. Surprise her at work and take her to lunch. The best gift is the one shes not expecting. A gourmet dinner, prepared by you and served by candlelight when she gets home from work, will connect like a passion sucker punch.
Make Any Day
Are you one of those cheap bastards who refuses to buy a card on Valentines Day, saying, I dont need no stinking Hallmark holiday to tell my gal I love her. Well, in a meathead sort of way, youre right. Valen-tines Day is generic, commercial and highly manipulated. And you shouldnt wait to tell her once every 365 days you love her as you pass her in the kitchen on the way to the john. Generate your own days to tell her that shes special. A card on June 20 or a single flower on September 12 will mean more to her than if you parked a two-ton Rose Parade float in her driveway on February 14 and proclaimed your love.
Its not about quantity, its about gesture. On the other hand, its not just a thought that counts, either; few women will actually object to an expensive gift so long as its something uniquely for her.
You may know your girlfriends bra size (heck, you may even brag about it with the guys), but do you know her shoe size? Her ring size? The author or poet or band she likes best? A careful observation of her likes and dislikes assures her you care. Make her a mixed CD of her favorite songs with a picture of the two of you on the cover. Get a video of her favorite movie, even if its When Harry Met Sally, and youll win more points than if you showed up with, say, Terminator 2.
Every day of the week and year is bursting with opportunities to be romantic without becoming a slobbering kissy-face in public. Even a modern woman, who insists on sharing the bills, secretly likes it if you open her car door or help her into her jacket. And not every kiss has to involve tongues. Reach out and squeeze her hand at random times without saying a word. Flash her a look and a wink across a crowded room even if its a crowd of the guys around a ball game on TV.
Take it from me: Theres a little Don Juan in everyone, and I dont mean that as a new nickname for your little Don Juan. Besides, you must have done something right to attract your gal in the first place. Being romantic is about caring, understanding and the ability to put her first at least for a second between pitches. Hell, you want to impress her, turn the game off all together. (Trust me, if its something good, Classic Sports will replay it.)
Woo her with gestures of the heart, not just the pocketbook. And if you cant quite pull it off as smoothly as Cary Grant, or as endearingly as Hugh Grant, chances are shell appreciate the effort anyway. Women are nice that way. Remember, shes not asking for the world, just that you make her a part of yours. And in the end, thats romantic.