Men don’t generally expect gifts on Valentine’s Day but when (and only when) they lavish you with dinner, flowers and expensive jewellery it is only fair that they get something…
Written by Mike Foley Last updated: February 14, 2013
Saint Valentine’s Day - three words that mean so much to both men and women… For her it’s a time for romance, a lovely a meal for two, and perhaps this year he will finally pop the question… For us blokes it is possibly the one chance we have to make up for being a total idiot for the other 364 days of the year. We may find the whole idea of it totally confusing, but we will try our best. Why is this day so baffling, and what can we do to make it wonderful for both of us? Before look at these questions, let’s take a trip through time and space to remind ourselves how this peculiar day wormed it’s way into our lives.
Way back when we were boys life was so simple. We liked Star Wars, Slade and The Goodies. Girls liked The Slipper and The Rose, Abba and E. Nesbit adaptations. We were different, and never should we meet other than for mutual taunting. Girls were mysterious creatures, and far too complicated for us. Carefree simple days! Then one day we noticed them, and that they looked interesting and pretty, and to win them over bike stunts and tree climbing were our tools of romance. What girl could resist a guy who can ride hands free down the road without falling off? All of them actually. Which is where Hallmark saw our problem and invented Saint Valentine’s Day. All we had to do was wait, and the class beauty was sure to send us a card! Obviously it never occurred to us to send her a card, or heaven forbid actually talk to her. Finally the big day arrives, and the post is delivered before breakfast (I’m writing about the late 70s here – for the benefit of any younger readers the post used to arrive about 7.00am, not 2.45 in the afternoon. I speak the truth), and there it was on the mat… A CARD! From mum…
Of course after that inauspicious start we began to learn the Ways of Woman, and after much discussion with our other spotty learned friends we decided that Valentine’s Day was a Good Thing, and a sure way to win the heart, and other bits, of the love of our youthful lives. So on February the 13th we would wander down the shops and look in WHSmith at the dazzling array of declarations of love. But which will impress the most? The biggest one with most hearts on the front of obviously. We’d smuggle the card into school and sneakily slip it into her bag when she wasn’t looking, and run for cover. Safely hidden at our desk we could see her take the card out, open it, giggle with surprise and watch her eyes study the boys for signals as to who sent it. The card was not signed, as we wanted to appear deep and enigmatic. We would look suitably mysterious, yet alluring, hoping that our air of aloofness would kind of give us away. After a few awkward moments, the class Handsome Boy piped up “I sent it, but I guess you knew that.”, and a beautiful romance blossomed. A lesson learned…
Finally we have reached adulthood, or at the least some form of stunted adolescence, and have met, possibly even settled down, with the woman of our dreams. Everything is going well in the relationship, and our life together is pretty good. Then it’s early February, and she drops a few subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, hints that The Day of Love is fast approaching. A menu from that special bistro will appear casually lying on the coffee table, or brochures for weekend breaks in lovely locations suddenly find themselves mixed in with the Radio Times and the music magazines. Now this is where we start to be baffled.
We love our partner very dearly, and delight in showing our feelings towards her, for we are modern men not afraid to declare our emotions. At the mention of Valentine’s Day though, there is a chance that the inner cynic in us all may rear his ugly head…
She: “I do hope he is planning something romantic and wonderful. A break in the country would be lovely. To spend some time together in the peace on the countryside would bring us even closer together.”
He: “I think she’d love a stay at that country hotel we visited a couple of years ago. It had a lovely trout stream. I’d better fetch my rod from the garage.”
She: “I love the romance of Valentine’s Day. He always gets me a beautiful card and a special surprise meal out. I love him, and these little gestures show how much he loves me too.”
He: “I love her very much, with all my heart. I don’t see how spending £6.50 on a piece of printed card is at all romantic. I’ll book a table at Tottos. Love their Lamb Guvec.”
She: “A beautiful bouquet of red roses with a hand written message is so romantic.”
He: “I’ll pop into the garage on the way home. Flowers are flowers aren’t they?”
We are baffled because although we can be as romantic and loving as women are, we can also see the day as a bit of a marketing ploy designed to make us spend our hard earned cash on bits of card, flowers that will die, a meal in a restaurant full of other soppy couples, or a break in hotel which will cost more than it would a week later. We might think that way, but we still go along with it all. Why? Because we are in love with our partner and being the romantic fools that we are, will do anything to show how much we care, and also if we ignore the day, we will get the cold shoulder for a week, and it will be brought up at random moments for the rest of our lives together. It’s not worth the risk!
So, let’s book that meal, buy that card and flowers, and be happy when we see how pleased she is with the meal out, which was much better than you expected (and rather reasonably priced). Enter into the spirit of romance, and embrace the loooooove, even we don’t quite ‘get’ what this day is all about.
Don’t forget the other 364 days of the year though. My wife and I declare our love for each other at least once a day, and that means as much to us as any bunch of roses and pretty card, because it comes from the heart. As a fellow Lancastrian lad once said - all you need is love!
Find more romance on our special Valentine’s Day pages!