I am not a romance person. First of all, I’m not good at it, second, I tend to scoff when the subject comes up. Not on purpose, just in a general pah-aren’t-I-such-a-cynical-adult way. Luckily, Husband and I are well-paired in life, because while I’m not much for romance, he doesn’t have a flipping clue what it is to begin with.
Way back when, in the days when Husband was still The Last Boyfriend, I assured him as we approached Valentine’s Day that I wasn’t really a jewelry sort of person. As in, I have some, I like it well enough, but I’m allergic to most stuff and frankly the only thing I actually wear are necklaces. All in all, no need to buy me any. He jokingly responded that okay, he’d buy me bacon instead.
You all have already spotted this, I’m sure, but guess what wasn’t a joke?
However, this is not the stupid gift it would have been had we both been living in America at the time. In Japan, bacon is difficult to find and expensive. Therefore, on Valentine’s Day I was delighted to receive two lovely large packages of bacon, and responded with a box of homemade, rather alcoholic chocolates. All in all, a successful holiday.
Ah, the budding beginnings of a relationship.
A year passed as a year does, and we came upon the next Valentine’s Day. I made chocolates because I make chocolates every year. Husband responded with…
I could give you a month to guess and you’d still never get it. Go on. Guess. Try. Nail gun? Burial plot? Hot air balloon? Block of cheddar?
You’re wrong, every one of you. He got me…
Crème de menthe and paprika.
Again, what seems like the stupidest present was in fact very thoughtful; you can’t get crème de menthe in Japan for love or money, or decent paprika; he’d sent away for both. Romance escaped once more without a nick, replaced by thoughtful charm.
Now, I know many of you are thinking what I once thought: but those are romantic gifts! A thoughtful gift is a romantic gift.
No. They were lovely gifts which I treasured, and I enjoyed them mightily, but you know what? I’m sticking with Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast on this one: romance is “chocolates, flowers, and promises you don’t intend to keep.” You know, the silly stuff. The frippery. The things where someone asks me, “Oh, what did Husband get you for Valentine’s Day?” and I don’t have to launch into a ten-minute explanation that ends in them murmuring, “If you say so, dear.”
The next year, I sat Husband (who was by then Fiancé) down and told him I wanted romance. He responded by getting out a piece of paper and asking for an exact definition. So much for surprise. But if that was how I was going to get it, that was how I was going to get it. I told him we needed a lovely dinner and chocolates and flowers.
And then, er, I spoiled it all on Valentine’s Day by having a minor case of hysterics because I was so stressed out and exhausted by work. It happens. Skip that year as a bad job all around.
The next one, I was suspicious during the lead-up to the holiday. Husband (who was finally Husband) had said nothing either way. Was he planning something? Did he remember it at all?
In fact, he’d made elaborate plans, unbeknownst to me: he’d made me macarons. A rainbow of macarons. Got up in the middle of the night and secretly baked them while I was sleeping and hid them with the help of my mother.
I was absolutely delighted. This, I declared, this was romance. Husband was pleased with himself for having figured out the formula, and a wonderful Valentine’s Day was had by all.
This year, it’s a little harder for him to hide things from me, owing both to the small size of the apartment and the fact that I’m the one who receives all the mail. Therefore, I know for a fact I have presents awaiting me. They’re still in their original packaging, too. Husband just came out from poking at them in the closet where he has stashed them away and asked if one is supposed to wrap Valentine’s Day gifts.
Me: We only have birthday and Christmas paper.
Him: I can turn the paper inside out.
I pointed out that I’d still see the little trees or happy birthdays when I opened them, to which he said, “But how will I give them to you otherwise?” because apparently handing them to me has been deemed not romantic, but having them wrapped in sort of dull gray paper that says “Happy holidays” inside is. I asked what’s the point of wrapping them if he isn’t going to display them, and he disappeared for a bit to ponder this, returning a minute later with his brow furrowed in thought.
Husband: Does Valentine’s wrapping paper exist?
Husband: Why would people want that, though?
Me: Weren’t you just asking me about this two minutes ago?
After consulting about whether hiding them in a toner box would be sufficiently nice of a presentation, Husband concluded that he’d wrap the gifts in a dish towel to give them to me. Because Cogsworth had it wrong; romance is apparently “sturdy cotton, Ikea florals, and that one curry stain that won’t go away,” and me laughing so hard I can’t breathe while Husband stands puzzled in the doorway wondering why I’m not taking this seriously.
And you know what? In some ways, I rather agree with that.
Got any Valentine’s Day plans in the works? Had any especially odd gifts you’ve received over the years? How about particularly romantic ones? The good, the bad, the silly—tell us below!
Also, if you’re not feeling the Valentine’s bliss, how about reading a story about a Valentine’s Day that leads nowhere good with my short story “The Foreigner’s Loneliness?”
No, really, it’s a Valentine’s story. Just click and you’ll find out…
Thanks for reading!
[Picture at top credit to Pixabay.]