Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A day of dread and loathing called love

Originally Published in the Utah Statesman on February 13, 2008
A day of dread and loathing called love
By Seth R. Hawkins and Debra Hawkins

I'm setting myself up for failure, and the worst part is I know it.

You see, in just one day it's Valentine's Day, the women's holiday of all women's holidays. Yeah, there are tons of these: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Buy Your Wife an Insanely Expensive Diamond Day, your wedding anniversary, your engagement anniversary, your first kiss anniversary, your first date anniversary, the first time you looked at each other without throwing up anniversary and the list goes on and on.

Women have taken over nearly every holiday, and if there isn't one to fit their needs, they invent one. That's fine. I'm a festive sort of guy. But the thing I have a hard time with is every one of these holidays requires me to empty my wallet faster than on April 15. At least with taxes, I usually get some sort of return. With women holidays, all I get is loathing and an extreme letdown.

But before I alienate myself to the entire female audience and get any male in trouble for reading this and agreeing with everything I've said and will say, I've decided to let my wife, Debra, participate in this column. I figure it's only fair since I've talked about her enough in these columns. It's about time she gets to explain how things "really are." So we will participate in a bit of friendly debate about this most wretched of all holidays.

DEBRA: It's not a wretched holiday, it's a celebration of love and devotion...

SETH: And suffering.

DEBRA: Watch it, or you'll be the one suffering.

SOON TO BE SLEEPING ON THE COUCH: That's probably true. Let's start out with Valentine's Day expectations. You see, a man on Valentine's Day expects very little. In fact, most men aren't even aware it's a holiday. It's so close to Super Bowl Sunday that we're still on Cloud 9 from watching the Patriots blow a brilliant season to the forgotten Giants. Sorry, I can't get over this. All we know is suddenly Wal-Mart gets rid of footballs and big-screen TVs to make way for all sorts of red and pink stuff and giant teddy bears. This stuff immediately passes through our man filter – you know, the part of holding a man card that blocks out diva music, reality TV, emotions, common sense and anything pink and girly – and gets replaced by thoughts like, "Wow, it sure is red in here. Blood is red. Steak is red. I want a steak. I wonder if my wife will cook it for me."

DEBRA: That's the problem with men, they can't remember anything. I'm pretty sure my husband would forget my name if I didn't write it on a Post-It note and stick it on his toothbrush. Come to think of it, he forgets that too. Sure, big screen TVs you'll never be able to afford can hold your attention for hours, but you can't break away from sweaty guys hitting each other for five minutes to pick out a genuine card. If guys were really genuine about holidays, maybe they would get rewarded for them more.

MR. UNGENUINE (no, that's not a French word for love): Cards, cards, like baseball cards? I just can't stand the principle of dropping $5 on some card that has a poem that's more uncreative than a 3-year-old ADD kid could write. And here's the thing, it's not just a card. You have to write something endearing in it, but it has to match the flow of the rest of the card. Tell me how to add onto, "Roses are red, violets are blue, my love for you goes on like the deep caverns of my heart." That doesn't even make sense! Somehow tagging on, "I love you dear," just doesn't do the trick. And then it has to be more than a card. Flowers are required. Someone please explain to me how a weed with a colored tip that will die in three days can possibly cost $40. Yet, this is mandatory.

DEBRA: What? I'm not worth even a card and some flowers? You cheapskate. Even if something does cost $40, it should be worth it if you love the person you're giving it to. As for the card, if you hate the poems on the store-bought cards so much, why don't you make it yourself?

MR. UNCREATIVE: I've thought about making my own card, but last time I checked, girls don't really get into duct tape and Sharpie cards. But, back to my point. A card and flowers are mandatory. And so is dinner to a nice restaurant. This is the part of the day I don't mind. I'm a fat kid and I love food, so at least there's something enjoyable in the day. But even after I do all these things and spend more money on her than on a shirt from Hollister – and that's saying something – I get blasted for not being creative.

DEBRA: It has nothing to do with money, but how much thought you put into it. Flowers, chocolates and a card don't cut it.

MORON: Dang, I forgot the chocolates.

DEBRA: If you would just put more thought into your gifts, you wouldn't have to spend as much, and we'd both be happy.

THOUGHTLESS IN LOGAN: Here's the thing that gets me though, flowers, chocolates, card and a dinner are mandatory, yet are still deemed as uncreative. It's a total Catch-22, which I'm becoming more and more convinced is how women think. They want something, yet they don't, but it's still your job as a man to meet both those needs. But even when you try to meet those needs, you get in trouble for trying to fix things, and women don't need anything to be fixed. But, what can you do?

DEBRA: How many times have I told you that I just want you to listen? But, that doesn't apply to holidays. I expect something out of you, and it shouldn't be too hard. I just want you to show me you love me.

JERK: See what I mean? I'm supposed to listen, but then I'm not. I'm not supposed to do anything, but then I am. Here's what I really think is happening. Women can't let you know you actually succeeded on Valentine's Day, because if you know you did it right, you won't have the motivation to try something different next year in the hopes of getting it right then. So women you keep you guessing as to what it is they really want the whole time, though I'm pretty convinced they actually enjoy what you do for them. It's an evil trick passed on from woman to woman. It's embedded in the extra X chromosome.

But don't worry men, I've thought up a way to beat the system. You see, all they want is for us to put some thought into our gifts and be creative. So, all we have to do is give them a little box wrapped in something other than newspaper. They'll open it and there will be nothing inside, but that's OK because then you can say you put your thought into it and you created the box. Check and check. Happy Valentine's Day. Somehow I get the feeling that won't work though. So until we figure this all out, pony up the money and make Hallmark richer.