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February 13th, 2019

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Valentine's Day, or: Epic Fail

The fact that I'm reposting this from three years ago tells you all you need to know about how well I handled Valentine's Day this year. Turns out it's on the 14th. Who knew?

 

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Unfortunately for me, Valentine’s Day comes during a time of year in which I don’t do well. I’ve said before that the only good thing about February is that it isn’t January, but let’s face it: they’re not all that different.

The best way to describe most men on this dedicated-to-love holiday is: epic fail. This is two steps beyond complete fail, which is itself three steps below just fail. As a result, any store that’s open the morning of Valentine’s Day is sure to see an influx of desperate, rather dazed looking men, searching for flowers or chocolate. If they can’t find a place open with Valentine chocolate, there’s always the corner convenience store.

“Let’s see … what’s more romantic, Baby Ruth or Milky Way? Say, do you have any wrapping paper here? No? I’ll just use the real estate listings, they’re a little colorful.”

My wife is not a fan of flowers, and is allergic to milk chocolate. She also doesn’t like to go out to eat, citing the expense and the crowds on a holiday. At first glance that seems like a great thing. But it takes away all the emergency “I’m in trouble” backups.

Now, you may be thinking, “But Mark, what does she get you for Valentine’s Day?”

If you’re thinking that, you’re a man.

Valentine’s Day, like weddings, is for the woman. The man’s job is to show up, look fairly nice, and make her the center of the day. With weddings men can usually focus just well enough to handle that for a day, having been around the planning stuff for months beforehand. With Valentine’s Day, the word “planning” puts them on life support.

I love my wife. I wouldn’t have married her if I didn’t love her. The idea of marriage for convenience ignores the fact that making a successful marriage isn’t convenient at all. And yet, as each holiday approaches, I utterly freeze up. I stink at shopping. I stink at picking out cards. And—this coming from a man who actually writes romantic comedies—I stink at being romantic.

The fact that most men have the same affliction is in no way an excuse.

At least, that’s what I assume my wife would say, if I was dumb enough to ask her.

My conclusion—and guys, you can all benefit from my hard-won wisdom—is this:

Being a man is no excuse. Suck it up, fellas. If, like me, you can’t seem to function during winter, try this: Go out in the summer and buy a bunch of generic presents. It’s your job to find out what your wife likes, I can’t help you with that. Figure it out, buy a bunch of them, and hide them away somewhere. When you hit that inevitable panic point—and you will—and realize the holiday happens to fall on a Sunday and there’s no store close enough for you to sneak out to, don’t gift her a zippo lighter from the Sunoco station. No, break into your horde of presents, and—surprise!—you’re a hero.

That’s what I’m going to do. Next year. This year, wish me luck.

"Yes, I promise to try to remember ... what was I supposed to remember?"

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