Gift giving in February is fraught with danger for any guy. Don’t give chocolate if she’s on a diet, but if you don’t give chocolate you might be implying that you think she’s fat. Jewelry has to be precisely the right style for your beloved, without her telling you what she wants. The card can’t be funny; it has to be romantic, but it can’t be schmaltzy.
It’s a gigantic, day-long “Do these pants make me look fat?” trap.
What follows is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
What transpired that day will live in infamy, to be sure, but what started out as Fred’s worst gift-giving moment ever was transformed into a sweet demonstration of his creativity and persistence.
All Edwina wanted out of Valentine’s Day that year was a nice dinner at home. So she was mystified when, under Fred’s expectant gaze, she unwrapped a book, titled “How to Make Any Man Fall In Love With You.”
She really didn’t want to be one of those women. You know: picky and dismissive of an honest effort. But this book would have had to try hard to be considered lame. When Fred confessed that there was too much pressure on him to pick out gifts, Edwina lost her temper.
“PRESSURE? I can fix that” (I believe that at this point she was getting a little screechy). “Gift giving is supposed to be a pleasure, not a burden. You never have to have any pressure ever, ever again.”
And that’s then Edwina issued her edict: “You are not permitted to give me a gift ever again.”
It was a simple mandate: no trying to sneak something in from the kids. Anything that looked like a gift would be returned, unopened. She was never again going to be a party to anything that caused Fred to flash that deer-stuck-in-the-headlights look he probably was sporting when he grabbed that book at some gas station at the 11th hour. Certainly it was better, Edwina reasoned, to expect nothing.
And that’s when Fred went to work.
For the next eight months Edwina’s car was mysteriously washed every week, her laundry anonymously washed and folded. Kindly seniors would show up in her hospital office, holding a “little something” from the gift shop volunteers. She couldn’t turn them away.
Then, on their anniversary, he sent a dozen roses to the receptionist, with this note:
“Rhoda, please display these flowers with this card, so everyone knows that this is the anniversary of my wife making me the happiest man on earth.”
She melted. Who wouldn’t? You’d have to be made of rock not to. The gift ban was lifted, and the Whos down in Whoville rejoiced.
Oops. Wrong holiday.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.