There’s this guy who wants to date me. I haven’t actually done so yet. Today he texted me an article–about a woman whose husband made arrangements to have flowers sent to her every Valentine’s Day–even after he died.
“This will probably make you laugh or cry,” he said.
I blinked at the article. What am I missing? I thought. No tears or laughter in sight.
The other day in line at the grocery store I was flipping through one of those trashy celeb gossip magazines. According to this highly trustworthy site, Channing Tatum gives back rubs after sex, and Ellen DeGeneres sprinkles her bedroom with rose petals.
Pushing my cart up to the cash register, I thought, Rose petals? Really? What am I missing?
Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing the gene that appreciates romance. I don’t like my date to pay for everything, or to fuss over opening the car door for me. I find it annoying when a man who’s just met me bombards me with compliments. And although I’ve been lucky enough to receive a dozen red roses a couple of times, and appreciated the gesture and expense very much, I don’t really like flowers.
If you compared that reaction to my squeals of delight at a pair of quirky socks or a bit of jewelry picked up secondhand because it reminded someone of me. . . Let’s just say it’s a more rewarding response than the way I’d react at the sight of the bed covered in rose petals.
(Does anyone really find the idea of a rose petal covered bed appealing? I would find it much more romantic to discover a pair of black heels on the bed, and be ordered to put those on with nothing else.)
This also extends to the traditional trappings of courtship and marriage. I have only the vaguest admiration for a well-cut diamond. If a man ever asked my father for permission for my hand, that would be the end of our relationship. I would much prefer a lover give me a gift randomly on a day in March, than give me a pink Hallmark card on Valentine’s Day.
All that said, historians might argue that my engagement a few years back ended when I opened my Christmas present from my fiance and found a wood writing pen. Just because I bristle at typical romantic gestures doesn’t mean I want a lover to treat me like his accountant.
I am baffled by rose petals and traditional ideas of romance because they seem more concerned with impressing rather than understanding one’s suitor. Or, they’re based on the equation breasts + estrogen = love of flowers.
I am a sucker, on the other hand, for the more idiosyncratic types of romance, the kind that come from a personal place or spontaneous moment.
Finding a Mason jar filled with Christmas lights in a New York studio–a firefly-filled lantern lighting a tiny room as rain pours outside. (This was pre-Pinterest). I don’t care if he likes opera or if turning it on is his cheap ploy. Opera is a classy cheap ploy.
Walking through the dark with someone I have just met, hoping I won’t get lost trying to find the bed and breakfast where I’m staying, and then he takes my hand.
Dancing in the garage to classic rock.
Casually inventing words and phrases in conversation that at any time sum up what we are trying to say in a way that only we two understand.
These examples are from different men I have been lucky enough to know. These moments are what strike me as romantic. They draw me closer, curious to know more about this person. They remain in my memory. And although I’ve never been in a twenty-year relationship, I’m willing to bet gestures like this will be even more important to me–far more important than a Hallmark card–when we know each other so well it’s that much harder to be spontaneous.
This Valentine’s Day I wish y’all a moment when you step outside your comfort zone, inspired by what you are sharing with your lover, partner, husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend or just. . . good friend. No roses in sight.