The Girlfriend and I have an understanding wherein she accepts the fact that I often buy bad presents and in return she doesn’t break up with me.
No holiday is worse than Valentine’s Day. For some reason, I can’t wrap my head around buying someone a substantially useless, romantic present like flowers or chocolates. I’ve been given chocolates as a present before, and while it’s awesome that, thanks to the present, you get to eat chocolate, you can’t help but think “This could have been a DVD.” And flowers? The Girlfriend and I have had this conversation at least five times:
Me: “But they die.”
TG: “But they’re pretty.”
Me: “But they die.”
Not that any of my ideas have been much better. One year I bought her a dinner that I would have paid for anyway. More recently I gave her a perfume she now uses to freshen up the waste basket in her kitchen. This year I was determined to do things differently. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I went to Victoria’s Secret.
On any average, normal day Victoria’s Secret is a store full of underwear and the women who need it. On Valentine’s Day it transforms into a store full of underwear and the men who want their wives to have sex with them. It’s a circus of lace, carnal intent, but most of all utter and complete confusion. I imagine if there was a holiday centered around indecisiveness, fear of commitment and an insatiable appetite for sex, women would be walking around Home Depot the same way men walk around Victoria’s Secret on Valentine’s Day – gingerly picking up items off racks afraid they might get dirty or, worse, have to describe what they are looking for to a sales associate. You don’t really know yourself until you’ve asked an overaggressive saleswoman where you might find a matching panty for this tank top.
I spent almost an hour walking around the store alternately trying not to be noticed and to avoid noticing anyone else in the store. I don’t know what’s worse: the shame of a woman catching your glance as she rummages through a bin of thongs or the “WTF?” face of a guy holding a chemise up in the air knowing he is trying to picture his wife in it. Fact of the matter is, wherever you look there are people holding women’s underwear and it’s about as close as the average guy is going to get to an orgy. And everyone knows that. And it’s a little awkward – except for the one guy who walks around like he’s in the food store picking up Cheerios and a taco kit. You just know this guy has been in a porn.
Anyway, in the end I came away with what I thought was a great present, until I gave it to The Girlfriend and she informed me that I had bought the wrong sized bottoms and the wrong sized top. Nothing says love like, “But I thought you were bigger than that.”
Good thing I also stopped into Sharper Image to buy something for myself and spied this awesome Pedometer – you know, one of those devices that counts how many steps you take and the distance you walk? So I bought that for The Girlfriend as well, essentially offering her a bundle of presents that suggest that I think she is big and should keep track of her exercise regimen more closely. Ah! The romance!
I will say this: there is something oddly empowering about a co-worker asking you a legal question while you assemble a Victoria’s Secret gift box in your office. It just smacks of “The hardest part of my life right now is wrapping this lingerie for my girlfriend to wear tonight.”