I mean it — desperate.
Hordes of men were at the Austin’s original Central Market last night a/k/a Valentine’s Eve. They were in the flower section, eyeballing roses and sunflowers and carnations. They were pawing the bright gold boxes of Godiva (and, if they were at all thoughtful, they were wondering whether their prospective valentines were on a diet, which would be totally sabotaged by a massive box of chocolates and result in a cataclysmic shame spiral that would not bode well for romance. But men in a panic may not be thoughtful until it’s too late).
They stood in line, clutching bouquets wrapped in green paper, looking equal parts sheepish and relieved. “Those poor guys,” my husband said sympathetically, shaking his head. Last year, our zillionth Valentine’s Day together, he somehow (how shall I put it most charitably?) dropped the goddamned ball. “I’m getting you roses this year, of course,” he announced loudly.
Of course, I said.
Looking around at all the male discomfort and borderline despair at an ordinary grocery store, I had to wonder what on earth was going on at lingerie stores around town, too. Surely, it was worse there. I’d seen men in those stores close to major holidays as they fumbled from counter to counter, eyes plastered wide like sacrificial animals at the altar.
“What size does your wife wear?” the saleswomen always asked the men, clearly striking even greater terror and indecision into their hearts.
“Oh, about your size,” most of the men would invariably say to the women behind the counter.
Would it be worse to get an inappropriate negligee that was way too big or way too small? Did my husband have any idea what size I wear in anything? No, he did not. However, he has been extensively prepped on my weight, since I have nightmares about being kidnapped and held hostage while he gave the police the wrong weight (too high, always too high).
We paid for our groceries and walked out into the night. I told myself I should feel bad about all the terror-struck men I’d seen, how I should regret taking part in this disgusting commercial display of hearts and flowers and avarice once every year.
Oh, but a year is a long time and this year, it’s even a day longer than usual. I can’t help myself: I think it’s good to occasionally put the fear of God into some of these guys now and then. They’ll be back to their usual behavior February 15. They’ll have plenty of time to forget once more whether we’re on a diet and whether we wear a size 2 or 22.
Life’s not an endless beer commercial, guys. Once a year, you can man up for a little romance.
(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Please see #13 on this list about a Valentine’s Day gone horribly wrong